NORMAN — Hadley Meinders was born in Okarche 90 years ago on Feb. 21, 1923. Hadley was the sixth child of his parents, H.H. Meinders and Rosella Andrews Meinders. Hadley died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday morning, April 20, 2013.
Services will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Tulsa.
The family moved from Okarche to a farm half mile west of Yukon when he was six months old, and that is where he spent his boyhood. Hadley enjoyed watching Route 66 being paved in front of the farm in 1927 and observed his mother offering food to men passing through looking for work during the Depression. That impression formed a basis for his active volunteerism throughout his long life. He attended schools in Yukon and was a 1937 graduate of Yukon High School, growing up with his siblings who have all predeceased him: Lily Wildman, Anne Wicken, John R. Meinders, Wesley Meinders and Harvey Meinders. The year he turned 10 years old, Hadley and his sister, Anne, witnessed their mother being struck by a car and killed right at dusk as they crossed the highway to remind their father to check on new chicks in the brooder before walking to town for the evening. He spent that school year living with his older sister, Lily and her family in Kingfisher.
After his mother’s death, Anne, Wesley and Harvey left for college and Hadley and his father ran the family dairy together while Hadley completed high school. His brother, John, formed a trucking company to deliver the fresh milk to Oklahoma City. Hadley learned how to work hard and appreciate the ways of rural life in those years. Active in the FFA, he raised Duroc hogs, Buff Orpington chickens and a Jersey cow. He achieved Tenderfoot through first class in the Boy Scouts and started his stamp collecting hobby, all of which dovetailed well with his love of American history and agriculture.
Hadley attended Oklahoma A&M College from 1941-43 and 1946-49. He joined his brothers Harvey and Wesley at the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house and graduated with a B.S. and master’s in agronomy.
From January 1943 until Dec. 8, 1945, Hadley served in the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet in World War II. He was awarded the American Theater Ribbon and World War II Victory Medal. He was truly part of America’s “greatest generation.”
Hadley’s first job was as a soils laboratory technician for the Soil Conservation Service. He was promoted to the position of soil scientist for the SCS in 1949 and moved to Guymon, where he served all three counties of the Oklahoma Panhandle, helping farmers learn good farming techniques to overcome the Dust Bowl years.
In April 1956, his friend, Royal Jackson, set Hadley up on a blind date with a young legal assistant who worked in Oklahoma City, Lois Marie Schroeder. They soon learned they were both from the Okarche area and both of their fathers had helped build the Lutheran Church in Okarche, the oldest in Oklahoma, and both played in the community band. Although their older siblings knew one another, Hadley and Lois had never met. It took quite a bit of convincing for Lois to leave her urban ways and agree to move to the Oklahoma Panhandle to marry Hadley, but she came to love that wide-open land as much as he did, marrying on Sept. 7, 1958, in Okarche in the church their fathers built. After a honeymoon to San Francisco, they returned to their careers in Guymon and she became pregnant with their first child, Teresa Ann.
Before Teresa was born, Hadley was promoted to a soil conservationist. The new family moved to Chickasha, then to Shawnee, where their son, John Hadley, was born, and finally to Purcell and Norman, where Hadley retired in 1980. Lois was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at a young age and Hadley was widowed in January 1987.
He began volunteering for the American Cancer Society soon thereafter, driving cancer patients to their treatments, and for the Norman hospital, where he was a volunteer until retiring in December 2012. He was recognized as the Cleveland County Red Cross Volunteer of the Year for his years of compassionate work. He was active in the seniors group at Trinity Lutheran Church in Norman, where he worshiped until late last year. Throughout his life, Hadley was an avid OSU Cowboy fan. He loved attending sporting events with John and his family and he rarely missed a home football or basketball game.
Hadley moved to Tulsa in December 2012 to be closer to his family, his daughter, Teresa Meinders Burkett and her husband Robert and his son, John Meinders and his wife Lori and their two children, Rachel and Robert. He enjoyed living at Inverness Village and sharing regular visits with his family.
He was sharp and witty right to the end and was planning a move back to his independent apartment from the skilled nursing area of Inverness at the time of his death.
He enjoyed a rich and wonderful life. He loved to travel and he loved the great outdoors. His engaging stories and great laugh will be sorely missed by his immediate family and his extended family of nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews, with whom he remained extraordinarily close through the years, traveling to weddings and graduations and never forgetting a birthday. Hadley was blessed with a life well lived and well loved, and we all will miss him greatly.
Visitation for Hadley will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. today in the Ninde Brookside Funeral Home.
Interment will be 4 p.m. Wednesday on the family farm in the Yukon Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations in Hadley’s name be made to the Trinity Lutheran Church, 603 Classen Blvd., Norman, OK 73071.
Arrangements are by Ninde Funeral & Cremation in Tulsa.
Norman Transcript, Tuesday, April 23, 2013