Thursday, November 22, 2018

Meredith Beyers (1899-1996)-Part Two

Wilbert D. Sleep and Jean (Meredith) Sleep had one son, Meredith D. Sleep, born on April 13, 1899, in St. Louis, Missouri. When he was counted in the U.S. Census of 1900 in Cicero, Illinois, the son still bore his birth name. In 1910, though, after his father was gone, he was called Lewis Beyers. The name change had come about because of Jean Meredith's marriage to a widower, Henry W. Beyers (dates unknown). In 1920, the name of Jean Meredith's son changed again. This time he was L. Meredith Beyers. (In 1910 and 1920, the Beyers family lived in Evanston, Illinois.) Henry W. Beyers died in 1936, probably in Chicago, but by then Jean was out of his life and long gone.

Here is a curiously brief and relatively uninformative newspaper item from the Buffalo Evening News, February 20, 1922: "The marriage of Mrs. Jean Meredith Beyers of Evanston, Illinois, to Charles M. Ransom, will be quietly solemnized in Pasadena, Cal." So what happened in the marriage of Henry and Jean Beyers? Who knows. But in marrying Ransom, she seems to have finally settled, as she spent the rest of her life in Pasadena. Ransom, who had come from Buffalo, seems to have been a wealthy man. He had been a manufacturer of medicines in his hometown. In Pasadena, he switched to another kind of medicine: wholesale liquor. Ransom died in Pasadena in 1955 at age eighty-seven. Jean Meredith Ransom, who was selling real estate in 1940, survived him by seven years. She died on February 1, 1962, in Pasadena, at age ninety-two. Both were buried in Buffalo.

So, two big personalities have pushed Meredith Beyers, the subject of this biography, to below the fold. Well, when he was a child, he had this name and that to go along with whatever man was married to his mother. In the earliest record I have from his adulthood, though, he called himself Lewis Meredith Beyers. The record is his World War I draft card, filled out in 1918 when he was nineteen. Beyers was a student in the college of engineering at Northwestern University at the time. Not long after that he was inducted into the U.S. Army, with dates of service of October 5, 1918 to January 17, 1919.

Meredith Beyers attended Northwestern University and Harvard University. He was an engineer, mathematician, and physicist and worked in aerospace at Indian Bay Research Corporation in Michigan and at Convair and Ryan Electronics in California (probably other places, too). I don't know when he moved to California, but he married Florrie May Gosse, on November 8, 1958, in San Diego. She was a Canadian-born teacher. They were close and loving. In their dotage, they walked hand in hand to lunch every day. In 1966, Beyers came out of retirement to help with elections in San Diego County. An astute and exacting man with figures, Beyers kept election results in line for years. "He's always 100% on the mark," his wife said. What's missing in all of this is an account of Beyers' young adult years, a time when his work wasn't so entwined in science and mathematics but came closer to matters of the occult, or at least to a cult of personality.

To be continued . . .

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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