Hinsdale shaped a life full of accomplishments

It's been a lifetime since Rich Meyer lived in Hinsdale. But a part of him still calls it home.

"It's a fairy tale town," he said.

A graduate of Hinsdale High School, Meyer said he would have been content to stay in Hinsdale and start working after graduation. But even in the early 1960s, his teachers, neighbors and classmates encouraged and valued a college education. More than 60 years later, Meyer said he's grateful for what his hometown and his education have provided.

Meyer said he begrudgingly attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1965 with a degree in electrical engineering. After visiting California to attend his brother's wedding, Meyer made the move out west not long after graduation. But even today, he has fond memories of growing up as the son of a Hinsdale grocer. Meyer said his father owned a small store on Quincy Street, about a half mile from downtown. At 5 or 6 years old, Meyer said, he began helping by sweeping the floors. His compensation was the pennies that his father would hide throughout the store.

"Dad would put a penny in a couple of spots. If I found the penny he knew I was sweeping," Meyer said.

At 82 years old, Meyer is still working and adding more lines to his resume. Along with roles such as electrical engineer, investor, real estate agent, minister, politician, historian, philanthropist, pilot and skipper, Meyer recently added the title of novelist to his list of achievements.

Meyer describes "Penney's Beach," published by Balboa Press, as a lighthearted yet insightful coming-of-age story of a girl growing up in a California beach town in the 1970s.

"What sets this novel apart is both its honesty and humanness and its truths and insights into many aspects of life," Meyer stated in a press release announcing the novel. "It aims to be a gift to generations past, present, and future."

Meyer said he hopes his book also shows young readers that history can be fun. While he stops short of calling himself a history buff, Meyer said he's fascinated by the evolution of the Western world over the centuries.

The book isn't the only gift Meyer has created for the next generation. A philanthropist who has chaired several nonprofit organizations, Meyer recently awarded scholarships to 16 students chosen from more than 3,000 entrants. Each applicant for the Windward Spirit Scholarship submitted an essay about how they see the world today and how they envision their place in that world.

While he never had children of his own, Meyer said he feels a responsibility to the generations that will follow him.

"That's really my calling today," he said of his desire to share his financial good fortune, especially with young people.

He said today's world is far different from the idyllic place and time of his childhood. He wants to do what he can to make growing up and succeeding in today's society a little easier.

"I hit the jackpot in life," Meyer said.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo submitted

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean