"Dad" Meyers: Custodian of Coe
the halls of old Coe College
Of the great and famed Coe College
Stands our Prof of Dust and Ashes
Mr. Myers of dust-pan fame.
How he sweeps and dusts and shovels,
How he rakes and mows the campus,
How he yells for old Coe College,
For the great and famed Coe College.
Myers was a simple man, born in Ohio in 1842 and raised on a farm in
Iowa. He enlisted in the army, soon after the civil war broke out, as a
member of Company D of the 28th Iowa Infantry.
Having completed his military service, he
moved to a farm with his wife near Blairstown, and then they moved to
Cedar Rapids to provide their children with a better education.
Myers first began work as a custodian at the college in 1893, when Coe
was nothing more than Old Main and Williston Hall. He saw changes
through the years, as chapel services moved from third floor of the
Main building to Sinclair chapel, where he was in regular attendance.
There was a special chair reserved for "Dad" in the rear of the chapel
and the Cosmos reported in 1924 that "no monitor was necessary to check
up on his attendance."
for his lawn care, Myers would instruct students at the beginning of
each school term to keep off the grass. "Then, as if by magic, fences
spring up across the places where people have been accustomed to make
short cuts, and flower beds are dug up and planted. Soon comes the time
when Mr. Myers can show his true worth. When this green grass springs
up and begins to lengthen, then his portly form may been seen calmly
and serenely following the lawn lower as it makes its regular trips
across the campus...thus comes our beautiful campus," The Acorn, 1903.
was a great deal of love and respect for this man, pictured in the
Acorn as an older gentleman, with a black hat to keep out the sun, a
large handlebar mustache and a hose in hand, carefully spraying the
lawn of Old Main. "Dad" was responsible waking students from their
slumber by banging a snare drum and then ringing the victory bell to
celebrate the signing of the armistice, it is said he was "wise" to
college pranks without number, and that, in all his years here, he has
never made an enemy. In fact, an entire chapel period was dedicated to
him on his eightieth birthday, where he was presented, by the faculty,
with a shiny gold watch fob with a Grand Army of the Republic emblem
emblazoned on it as well as a cake from the Cosmos staff.
in demand, "frequent calls are made upon our worthy friend for
assistance." The 1903 Acorn reported. "One of the girls must have some
help, for she is changing her room again...Another must have the bed
nailed up for they had a scrap on it and it collapsed. Down the hall
comes the cry, 'Where's Mr. Myers! Can I borrow your screwdriver?'
Another one asks, 'Can I take your keys a minute?' Then along comes a
Professor with 'Where's Mr. Myers? I want to see him.' " In constant
demand, "Dad" had a few joys, those being swapping stories with the
boys in the print shop and rooting for Coe's athletes.
dedicated fan, Myers wouldn't even let retirement keep him from the
games. After twenty-nine years of service to the college, "Dad" retired
at the age of eighty. He had been suffering from rheumatism for several
months, which made it difficult for him to perform his janitorial
duties and attend the Coe athletic events. In his retirement, it was
arranged for him to attend games by automobile. He was provided with
the best seat in the house, as the car was to be parked on the field in
order for "Dad" to be able to see the game. "I never miss a game if I
can help it," says this most enthusiastic fan in the October 11,1923
Cosmos. "There’s nothing I enjoy more."
dedicated fan and servant of the college passed away February 21 of
1924 from old age and complications of rheumatism. Though " 'Dad' was
far from being a college professor or a college trustee," a cosmos
editorial stated, "he was truly a scholar, a graduate of the university
of men. Old grads will remember him alongside Dr. Burkhalter, as
outstanding men...whom they cam in touch with at Coe. They will
remember his kindness of manner, his friendly advice, his reminiscences
of the Coe of old, and his never-failing optimism as far as Coe and Coe
athletics was concerned. Coe misses 'Dad.' "