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Published: Friday, 4/29/2011

Herbert J. Meier, 1928-2011: Insurance agent aided Christian missions


ARCHBOLD, Ohio -- Herbert J. Meier, a farmer, insurance agent, and corporate board member who was a strong supporter of Christian ministries, died April 22 in Fairlawn Haven nursing home, Archbold, from complications of cancer.

He was 82. He and his wife, Mary Ellen, lived in the Fairlawn Retirement Community more than 15 years.

He and his family moved to Archbold in the mid-1960s, when he took over the insurance agency of his father-in-law, Ora Rupp.

"He was involved in mostly casualty insurance, and he knew a lot of the farmers, and he also sold crop insurance," his son, Dr. John Meier, said. "He knew a lot of people in the community, and they trusted him.

"He was never a hard-core salesperson," his son said. "It was more relationships and service."

Mr. Meier owned the agency until 1989.

For 32 years, he was a director of Sauder Woodworking Co. in Archbold, taking the seat held by Mr. Rupp, who was a contemporary of company founder Erie Sauder. Mr. Meier's son now is on the board.

Mr. Meier was active in Archbold Evangelical Church, and he was on the board of Miracle Camp, a Christian summer camp in Lawton, Mich., for which he helped raise money to support building projects.

"He had a real passion for youth ministries," his son said.

He was on the foundation board of Taylor University, a liberal arts school in Upland, Ind., where a building is named the Rupp Communication Arts Center, for his wife's family. He supported and volunteered for Gideons International, which places Bibles in hotels and hospitals and distributes them to college students.

"He felt it was part of his mission field to help others have the same faith he did, but not in a pushy way," his son said. "He never did it in a pushy way, but in a supportive way."

Indeed, working for faith-related ministries "was the driving force for his life," his daughter, Sarah, said. "He was a man who first of all served God and served his family and served others."

He was born Nov. 13, 1928, in Wauseon to Elnora and Ernest Meier. He was a graduate of Wauseon High School and an Army veteran, serving in Germany during the Korean War.

His father managed the Wauseon farm of Dr. L.E. Botts, and for years afterward, so did Mr. Meier. On 200 acres -- part of which became the site of the Fulton County Health Center -- Mr. Meier grew corn, wheat, and soybeans and, early on, raised beef cattle.

"He enjoyed being outdoors and working with his hands. And he enjoyed working God's creation," his son said.

He also enjoyed his time outdoors at the family cottage on Bird Lake in Hillsdale County, Mich., where he "spent a lot of time water skiing," his son said. "He was probably close to 70 when he stopped water skiing."

Surviving are his wife, Mary Ellen, whom he married Dec. 31, 1955; son, Dr. John Meier; daughter, Sarah Wagoner; sister, Marguerite Kingsbury, and six grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Archbold Evangelical Church. Arrangements are by the Short Funeral Home, Archbold. The family suggests tributes to Miracle Camp, Lawton, Mich.; Defiance Area Youth for Christ, or the Gideons.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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