Werner Meyer

Obituary of Werner Meyer

Werner T. Meyer died on September 3, 2008 with his family at his side after a long illness and a very courageous fight against blood cancer. A resident of New Canaan for 41 years, Mr. Meyer was 83 years old. Throughout his protracted illness, Mr. Meyer was resilient and determined and battled bravely. He fought with dignity never gave in to his vicious, debilitating disease. Mr. Meyer demonstrated the same strength of character, mental tenacity and spirit for which he became known throughout his professional career and personal life. He proved that mind over matter can make a profound difference. Mr. Meyer was the true epitome of the American Dream. He was born in Cologne, Germany in 1925, the son of the late Irma Kleinberger and Julius Meyer. At the time of his death, he had reached both great professional and personal success and lived a life which proved that dedication, perseverance and hard work paid off. In the business world and in the town he lived, he made a memorable impact and a real difference among the people who knew him. Until the age of 16, he lived and attended schools in Cologne, Germany and Zurich, Switzerland. In September of 1941, Mr. Meyer, along with his mother and grandmother, left Germany and immigrated to the United States. He arrived in Jackson Heights, New York as a teenager who spoke no English. Just two and one-half years later, in 1944, he graduated from Newtown High School – speaking fluent English – and went on to graduate from City College of New York in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. During his college years at CCNY, Mr. Meyer was part of an elite scientific research team that worked on the Manhattan Project. After a six-year technical career with Union Carbide in New Jersey, he became Director of Engineering and Development for Kordite Corporation near Rochester, New York (now part of the Exxon/Mobil empire). While at Kordite, Mr. Meyer conceived and negotiated a worldwide joint venture in plastic film packaging with Shell Limited of London complete with a reassignment to London for himself. His responsibilities included supervising the business enterprise itself as well as construction of the new office facilities. Mr. Meyer next served as Marketing Manager and Project Advisor for Exxon Corporation in both New York City and Brussels, Belgium where he was responsible for managing the marketing of European-fabricated plastics and coordinating plastics activities worldwide for this industrial giant. Later he became Vice President for Olin Chemicals in Stamford, Conn., where he was responsible for marketing, manufacturing, and planning and project development for the corporation’s international activities. In 1975 Mr. Meyer joined Gulf + Western in New York City as Vice President for Marketing, Natural Resources Group which ultimately led him to become President and Chief Operating Officer of the Zinc Institute, Lead Industries Association and Cadmium Council from 1979-1988. During his leadership of these three international trade associations, Mr. Meyer created and oversaw multiple programs for the associations’ 130 corporate members including: market development, transfer of technology, environmental health and safety, government relations, information and statistical systems, and advertising and public relation programs. He was known professionally to be an intellectual powerhouse and a tenacious businessman. One of Mr. Meyer’s proudest professional achievements was his instrumental role in bringing about a monumental change in United States coinage – namely, the conversion of the one-cent piece from 95% copper and 5% zinc to 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. This conversion created a very profitable new usage for zinc in the United States and this accomplishment earned him the title of “Mr. Penny” within the metals industry. In 1989 Mr. Meyer returned to his private consulting practice in New Canaan focusing on worldwide industrial marketing, technology transfer, plus acquisitions and mergers. Although he retired professionally in 2000, Mr. Meyer never stopped working – he became an ardent supporter of the New Canaan community and devoted nearly the rest of his life to volunteer service in town. He devoted untold hours to many worthy endeavors with the same strength of character, enthusiasm, loyalty and spirit for which he was always known. Mr. Meyer was a very dedicated, very active and very outspoken member of the New Canaan Republican Town Committee for many years and chaired its Personnel Sub-Committee for some time. He was a man of strong convictions and even more strongly-held opinions – a truly American right he cherished as a naturalized American citizen and immigrant from a war-torn country that didn’t always allow its citizens to speak out. A passionate patriot, Mr. Meyer was also a prominent Republican activist who worked hard to support local and statewide officials including Christopher Shays and Lt. Governor Mike Fedeli. Mr. Meyer also spent the last six years of his life as a dedicated member of the New Canaan High School Building Committee. He was proud to have offered this service to the alma mater of his three daughters and the future alma mater of several grandsons. Many years prior, while his three daughters were attending the New Canaan public school system, Mr. Meyer was a fervent and vocal supporter of the NCPS system and the Board of Education. In addition, Mr. Meyer served as past Director of the Norwalk-based Family and Children’s Agency for nine years as well as past Director/Treasurer of the New Canaan Inn for five years, leading him to be elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the Waveny Center Health Care Services Group. Mr. Meyer was also a member of the Senior Men’s Club and participated in its “Touch the Future” program which served the school system’s students with enrichment lectures and various scientific academic activities. He was one of New Canaan’s early graduates of the town’s Emergency Response Team (CERT) and was a member of the Poinsettia Club. Mr. Meyer held Professional Engineering licenses in the states of New York, Connecticut and Mississippi. He was also a lifetime member of the New York Chemist’s Club. He was a licensed Connecticut Real Estate broker as well as a Justice of the Peace in New Canaan. He was a long-time member of the New Canaan Field Club. A communicant at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, he also taught religious education there for many years. Mr. Meyer met his wife Wally at the Burby Hollow Ski Club in Rochester, New York, where they were married in 1959. Mr. Meyer’s multi-faceted career gave them the opportunity to travel abroad extensively and live for some years in London, England, and Brussels, Belgium, and in between in Scarsdale, New York. The Meyers settled in New Canaan in 1967 and continued to raise their three daughters. Mr. Meyer is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Wally Meyer of New Canaan, and his three beloved daughters, Gretchen Meyer Russell and son-in-law Stephen Russell of New Canaan, Nicole Meyer of London, England, and Claudia Meyer Newton and son-in-law Robert Newton of Darien. He leaves behind five grandsons: Graham and Oliver Russell of New Canaan, and Jack, Charlie and Alex Newton of Darien. Visiting hours will be at the Hoyt Funeral Home, 199 Main Street in New Canaan, on Friday September 5th from 4-8 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan on Saturday, September 6th at 10:00 am. Interment will take place at Lakeview Cemetery in New Canaan. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that friends and neighbors give the gift of life by giving blood in memoriam and replenishing local blood bank supplies. Mr. Meyer was the recipient of countless life-saving blood transfusions during the course of his lengthy illness. Or, memorial donations may be made to the Program for the Humanities in Medicine, in care of Dr. Thomas Duffy, Chief, Hematology Department, Yale New Haven Hospital, P.O. Box 208021, New Haven, CT., 06520.
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