Obituary: John Charles Meeks, 1947-2024 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: John Charles Meeks, 1947-2024 

Grand Isle man was a longtime educator, lifelong sailor and gracious host

Published January 22, 2024 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated January 22, 2024 at 9:32 a.m.

click to enlarge John Meeks - COURTESY
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  • John Meeks

John Charles Meeks passed away on January 11, 2024, at the age of 76, with his loving family by his side, after struggling with chronic lung and heart disease over the past year. He was born in Lynbrook, N.Y., to Charles John and Julia Elizabeth Meeks, the second child and the only boy, with three sisters.

John grew up on the water — water-skiing, sailing and spending many hours surfing with his best friend, Joe Cenis, sleeping on the beach, and, of course, taking a quick break to attend mass. He was an accomplished gymnast and soccer player in high school. After high school, he attended Springfield College and moved to Maine, where he was a lobster fisherman and then an optician.

John moved to Vermont in 1976, first as a ski bum at Smugglers’ Notch and later a counselor at a group home, where he discovered his love of teaching. He then met Lynne, the love of his life. John returned to school at Trinity College, majoring in early childhood education, an avocation he truly loved.

Lynne and John married in 1980 on the top of Mount Philo. They spent many happy hours together renovating their homes and sailboats, skiing, sailing, and hosting many family events at their home. John was a gracious host who loved cooking and planning wonderful meals.

After their daughter, Julia, was born, John opened a home childcare. John later went to work at the YMCA preschool, where he worked for 20 years, becoming famous for his Thanksgiving feast, where the entire preschool and parents were able to enjoy his fabulous turkeys, and for the Tin Can band of preschoolers, who collected food shelf donations by threatening to continue to play until the lucky recipient of the concert made a donation.

After retiring from the Y, John continued to work with children as a substitute teacher at the Grand Isle elementary school. John adored the children and staff and had so much fun working there; he absolutely loved it. He continued to work as long as he could, even after he became ill, with amazing support from everyone at the school.

In addition to being a skier and snowboarder, John was also a lifelong sailor. He and Lynne joined the Malletts Bay Boat Club in 1991. John spent many years racing with Lynne’s dad and cruising on the lake with Lynne and Julia. John loved MBBC and dedicated many hours to serving the club in various capacities, not in the least on the entertainment committee, where he brought his joy of cooking and hosting and sarcastic sense of humor. During the pandemic, John was elected master of MBBC and successfully managed the challenges of safely opening the boat club during that time, enjoying every minute of that endeavor.

John was a supportive dad who delighted in assisting Julia with many projects and interests, including her love of horses, constructing a kit horse carriage together, building a hovercraft, planning epic camping trips to Hermit Island every summer, and reading so many good books together, including Swallows and Amazons, which of course led to the construction of the sailing dinghy Swallow. John was so proud of Julia, her wit and accomplishments, and was thrilled that she found her fiancé, Dan, a loving addition to our family.

click to enlarge John Meeks - COURTESY
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  • John Meeks
John was predeceased by his mother and father; his sister Pat; and his father-in-law, Edward Ziemer. He leaves his wife, Lynne; his daughter, Julia Meeks, and her fiancé, Dan Matton; his sisters Barbara Wiggins and Marie Meeks; his mother-in-law, Shirley Ziemer; his sisters- and brothers-in-laws, Meribeth Ziemer (Bob Bajak), Gary (Darcy) Ziemer, David Ziemer and Doug (Nicole) Ziemer; and his nieces and nephews, Ali Marcus, Katie Matsen, Melanie Olzak, Meredith Wright, Erik Ziemer, Zachary Ziemer and John Schenne.

We wish to thank Grand Isle Rescue; the doctors and staff at the University of Vermont Medical Center, who were so supportive and kind to John and Lynne during this difficult year, especially Dr. Berger, Dr. Koko and Dr. Kane; the staff and students at Grand Isle School; and our friends and family, who loved him.

Donations may be made in John’s memory to Grand Isle Rescue, Grand Isle School, United Way or the charity of your choice.

A celebration of life will be held in the spring.

“Be safe, be smart, and above all be kind.”

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