Roland "Duke" Meinert worked at MU's School of Social Work, contributed to local papers

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | 9:46 p.m. CST; updated 6:53 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 19, 2014

COLUMBIA — For every holiday or family gathering, Roland "Duke" Meinert would prepare a prayer or a short story, often about himself and his friends, for the occasion.

Mr. Meinert loved to tell stories, his wife, Shirley Meinert, said. His daughter Susan Meinert couldn't choose just one favorite, but said he had a lot of fun stories he loved to tell his family.

Mr. Meinert of Columbia died Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, of brain cancer. He was 84.

He was born Dec. 3, 1929, in St. Louis, to Gregory and Mary Ann (Link) Meinert. He married Shirley Ruth McCallister on Sept. 27, 1958.

Mr. Meinert received multiple degrees in social work, including a bachelor's degree from Saints Joseph's College in Indiana, a master's degree from Loyola University Chicago and a doctorate degree from University of Saint Louis. He was the director of the School of Social Work at MU from 1975 to 1988, and later held the position at Michigan State and Missouri State University.

He served two years in the Army with the Berlin Brigade in the military intelligence unit. Mr. Meinert played football for both the Army's semi-pro team and the Saint Joseph's College team.

In addition to his academic studies and football, Mr. Meinert was also an excellent writer, his family and friends said. He wrote op-ed pieces that focused on religious and social issues for several publications including the Columbia Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune. He also authored and edited many advanced educational books for professionals.

Mr. Meinert was a lifelong pro-life Catholic and an advocate for social justice. He served on several social welfare boards, including the Missouri Association of Social Welfare, where he was the longest serving president. He also chaired the board of directors of Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services. Founding the Inter-University Consortium on International Social Development was one of his proudest accomplishments.

His work never kept him from his family though. His daughter Susan Meinert recalled a time when her sister was driving home one night and her car broke down. Sharon called her dad and he drove out and towed her home with a clothesline.

"He was a very helpful father," Susan Meinert said.

His son Gregory Meinert said sitting on his father's lap and steering the car when he was 8 years old was one of his favorite memories of his father.

Friendship was also very important to him. Susan Meinert said her father and his friends would bring their families together every Labor Day at the Lake of the Ozarks and spend time together.

One group of childhood friends called themselves the Walnut Park Athletic Association, after the area where they grew up in St. Louis.

Robert Firle, a friend from the association, said the men had been coming together since 1960. The pair's friendship started when they were around 16 years old.

Firle remembered enjoying Mr. Meinert's comic book collection with the other members of the association.

"We would go to his house and just read comics," Firle said.

Mr. Meinert is survived by his wife, Shirley Meinert; two sons, Matthew and his wife, Jeana, and Gregory and his wife, Julie; two daughters, Sharon and her husband, Mark Elliott, and Susan Meinert; two sisters, Mary Jane Buescher and Pat Dowd; and five grandchildren, Natalia and Aaron Winberry, Benedict Meinert, Melissa and Danielle Meinert.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave., Columbia, MO 65202. Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 903 Bernadette Drive. Entombment will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.

Memorial contributions can be made to St. Francis House in the care of Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave., Columbia, MO 65202.

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