In Memoriam: Fred Meeker

Professor Emeritus Fred Meeker, who taught at Cal Poly Pomona for nearly three decades and served as a library docent, died Dec. 31.
Professor Emeritus Fred Meeker, who taught at Cal Poly Pomona for nearly three decades and served as a library docent, died Dec. 31.

Professor Emeritus Fred Meeker loved Cal Poly Pomona so much that after nearly three decades of teaching in the Department of Psychology and Sociology, he kept serving students one-day a week as a docent at the University Library.

Known for his dapper style of dress and wry sense of humor, he saw his role as a library docent as a chance to watch the student hub become what he called “the heart of campus.”

Meeker, who taught in the Behavioral Science Department from 1970 to 1999, died Dec. 31.

The Frederick Meeker Memorial Fund, which will raise funds for a scholarship in his name, has been created and a memorial service is set for noon Thursday, Feb. 25 in the University Library’s events room.

Professor Emeritus Gary Cretser, who once served as chair of the psychology and sociology department, recalls that Meeker stood out because of his style and manner.

“He brought a certain formality to the department,” Cretser says. “He always wore a three-piece suit. He always referred to his colleagues as doctor.”

Meeker was very good with students and very dedicated to the Western Psychological Association, Cretser says.

A graduate of Occidental College, Meeker also completed his doctoral studies in psychology at the Claremont Graduate School in 1972. He wrote his dissertation on an unusual topic — wine appreciation among college students.

Professor Susan Siaw, who has taught in the psychology and sociology department for more than 30 years, says she and Meeker collaborated on several research projects.

“When we did projects, he was the brains behind them,” she says. “He was the driving force and very resourceful.”

She describes her friend as smart, funny and generous in a quiet way. Siaw recalls Meeker donating money to the department and wanting the plaque recognizing his gift to read “anonymous.”

“He rooted for the underdog,” Siaw says. “He helped fellow professors who needed it, and he would buy textbooks for students if they couldn’t afford them.”

University Library Dean Ray Wang says that as a docent, Meeker was knowledgeable, kind and well-liked by students, faculty and library staff. He recalls often chatting with the retired professor about various subjects.

“He always had something witty or wise to say, which had the magic to put a smile on your face right away,” Wang says.

Meeker once told Wang a funny story about how he hurt his back on his honeymoon and how his wife Margit, who really didn’t know how to drive, had to take the wheel and get them across the country. Wang recalled Meeker saying “I taught her how to drive in that condition,” with a wink.

“He was especially kind to students who were in need of help, emotional or otherwise,” Wang said. “I saw several origami paper planes he made for Traci, a library student assistant who had health issues. He was such a kindred spirit and a kind soul, and I’m going to miss him dearly.”