Our Hero, brother and uncle, Vern “Doc” Meyer, age 68, of Grants Pass, Oregon, went on to his horse ranch in heaven. Vern died peacefully October 22, 2014 after a short illness with his sisters by his side.
Vern was born June 22, 1946 in Montevideo, Minnesota to Vernon & Helen (Helgeson) Meyer. He grew up on a farm in Sacred Heart, Minnesota where he graduated from High School. Vern was very active in school sports and belonged to the Amigo Riders Saddle Club. He enjoyed riding his horse, Beauty in gymkhana’s and parades, but riding big bad bulls at rodeos was the thrill he really enjoyed.
In 1965 Vern moved to San Pablo, California to be close to his sisters, Dorothy and Henrietta (Hank) and their families. His goal was always to enlist in the military and in spite of his severe asthma, he became a United States Marine and very proud of it. Shortly after boot camp he arrived on Vietnam soil where his nickname was “Cowboy”. Vern’s job was front line machine gunner. Throughout his two Vietnam tours he received several medals, Bronze Star w/”V”, three Purple Hearts, Combat Action Ribbon with two stars, Presidential Unit Citation with one star, Good Conduct Medal 2nd award, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Certificate of Commendation 2, Meritorious Mast, Republic of Vietnam and Cross of Gallantry with Palm. Vern’s military education consisted of Law Enforcement, Criminal Investigation, Warrant Officer School, Drug Enforcement, Polygraph Examiner, FBI Course, Terrorism Course, Hostage Negotiation and was an Undercover Drug Agent. After two tours in Vietnam, he spent a year in Okinawa working with Joint Tasks Force involving DEA and Marine Corp Criminal Investigation. Vern retired from the Marine Corp as Chief Warrant Officer 4, he was the commanding officer “The Boss” of the Criminal Investigation Division. His 23 years served as a marine were 1966 to 1989,
Vern met Laura Miller after he returned from Vietnam, who was also in the Marine Corp and in 1972 they were married. They enjoyed spending time with their horses, they were later divorced.
In 1986 Vern married Lynn Watson, she was very patriotic and proud to be married to a Marine officer. In 1990 Vern & Lynn moved to Grants Pass to begin a life of breeding and raising horses and being part of a wonderful community.
Vern started working as a private investigator from 1992 to 1999, he was in partnership with Frank Loew and later started his own Company, Vern Meyer Investigations. Vern sold his business and then he worked with Josephine County Sheriff’s Office as a Civil Deputy.
In 2003 Vern managed the Feed and Pet Supply Store at Farmers Building Supply, where he was known by almost everyone in the area. In the beginning it was more from past employment in law enforcement and PI work, along with association with the many horse involved organizations in the area including local high schools equestrian teams.
Vern had a very special quality in that he tried to take time for everyone and doing so made everyone feel special, they had a friend in Vern. He had a very caring attitude and would often take a young person under his wing when recognizing the need and became more of a father figure than the person may have otherwise experienced at their own home. In one case a young boy who had lost his father and may have fallen into a lot of trouble had it not been for Vern’s intervention and his watchful and caring devotion. Vern had a special knack for making him and many other teens accountable without realizing the role he was playing in their life. He was a wonderful mentor.
Today this young man is a fine upstanding person, along with many others Vern had mentored.
His involvement with horse groups often placed him right in the middle of many bureaucratic situations focused on preserving facilities such as the fairgrounds and many other horse related properties and activities. Vern had very little tolerance for bureaucratic ways and would rather get things done instead of wasting so much time talking about it. When rules and policies seemed to get in the way, Vern would just pull out his wallet and take care of the cost, never expecting reimbursement. He especially liked doing this if he could keep it a secret.
Duties at Farmers often brought him in close connection with the Oregon Extension Service and the 4-H groups helping promote their programs. Vern always enjoyed being involved with this aspect of the business because of the children and parents he was able to help in relation to raising their annual project animals.
Vern was not much for having the spot light shining on him, but over a period of time he became a very good speaker helping teach the children and parent’s things they needed to know in raising successful projects.
The end of the fair season, you would find Vern walking and visiting with the 4-H kids, leaders and parents about each of the kids’ animal giving them a chance to show off their hard work raising their animal. He then would line up as many buyers he could find to help purchase project animals. As you might expect he raised his hand more than he was able to find help in purchasing. This was never an issue, as he would dig deeper in his pocket and buy several animals on his own. With the animals Vern purchased, he would donate the meat to a charity to lend them a hand as well.
As the years passed, Vern became proficient working equine trade shows and truly enjoyed it, and it was another opportunity to help people.
Much of his time was spent making calls on local horse farms helping them improve their feeding programs.
A whole novel could be written about Vern regarding stories and events that few will ever hear, those stories will just have to remain a special experience each individual person had with the LMF Horse Feed man called “Vern”. He touched countless people throughout his time in Grants Pass and his memories will live on for a very long time here. The family hopes all are mentioned and if anyone is missed please meet and share at the gathering.
Vern belonged to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Posse for many years.
Vern’s lifetime passions were numerous including anything to do with animals, he loved raising and training paint quarter horses and took great pride and love in his horses. Vern rescued many dogs and cats, they all found their new home to be Vern’s home.
Vern is survived by his sisters, Dorothy Parnell and husband, Jim and Henrietta Smithson and husband, Tom, both of Billings Montana and six nieces and nephews, Penny Vavricka, Cyndi Kolp, Mitch Vavricka, Steve Vavricka, Shane Smithson and Stacy Smithson.
Donations can be made to the Grants Pass Animal Shelter, Josephine County Fairgrounds, Josephine County Sheriff’s Posse or a charity of your choice.
Vern’s family would like to thank the wonderful staff at the Three Rivers Medical Center, Lovejoy Hospice and Hull and Hull Funeral Directors. Many thanks to all of Vern’s friends for the love and support you have given Vern’s sisters and families. Thank you so much.
A viewing will be from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, October 30, 2014 at Hull & Hull Funeral Directors.
A Celebration of Life will be at 6:00 p.m., Friday, October 31, 2014 at Josephine County Fairgrounds. All friends and family of Vern’s are invited to a potluck following the Celebration of Life service. Vern’s cremated remains will be interred in Laurel, Montana where he will be buried at the Yellowstone National Cemetery.
We will all miss Vern’s quick sense of humor and sly little smile – Rest in Peace “Doc”.