Obituary: Jeanette Meyer was tireless champion of Brooklyn Park

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2012 - 9:05 PM
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Jeanette Meyer in 2011

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A couple of weeks ago, Brooklyn Park City Council Member Jeanette Meyer visited with Mayor Jeff Lunde.

Confronting fourth-stage lung cancer diagnosed in March, Meyer was clear that she wanted the city to start looking for her replacement.

"She leaned over and said to me, 'Do what you have to do,'" Lunde recalled on Monday. "She was very upfront and honest about that, that we should not wait. The city was more important."

Meyer, the longest-serving member on the current council and a tireless champion of the city, died on Sunday at her home. She was 58.

She grew up in West Concord in southern Minnesota and came to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota, said her husband, Terry Gearin.

"She was a Vietnam War protester, and I was a Vietnam vet," he said.

They were married in 1974 and built their Brooklyn Park home in 1977.

She worked as an accountant and business consultant. She first was elected to the council in 1998, representing the West District; voters gave her a fourth term in 2010. Her husband joined her on the council from 2005-2009.

Over a career in public service, she also was a charter member and frequent officer of the Citizen Long-range Improvement Committee.

Meyer was dogged in sticking to a long view of the city, Lunde said.

Even through the recession, when development-hungry Brooklyn Park was presented with opportunities that didn't quite fit the council's vision for the city, she stuck to her guns, he said.

"She was focused on making sure that we are patient in development," he said. "When the economy got tough, she wasn't willing to say 'Let's loosen up and take whatever we can get.'"

The extension of Hwy. 610 through the city was a high priority to her. On a smaller scale, Meyer also was devoted to neighborhoods, said longtime colleague Mike Trepanier.

Those efforts included everything from crime prevention to code enforcement, foreclosure mitigation and single-family rental management.

"All of those things," Trepanier said." Everyone on the council has said our rudder is neighborhoods. If you take care of neighborhoods, the city can take care of itself."

Still, he noted, while he admired her work and her dedication, that didn't mean the two always agreed.

"She and I would disagree, but that was OK," he said. "Both of us understood, and we talked about how having some level of disagreement is really important, because in the long run you make better decisions than when everyone's thinking is the same all the time. We agreed much, much more often."

Meyer continued attending meetings and city functions as long as she could. She was answering constituent e-mails as recently as last week, her husband said, noting that someone asked why he didn't prevent her from exerting herself.

"She was doing things she loved," he said. "You couldn't stop her. That was her heart."

In addition to her husband, Meyer is survived by adult sons Charlie and Joseph Gearin, both of whom live in Brooklyn Park.

A memorial service still is being planned to accommodate out-of-town family.

The city has not yet determined when or how it will fill her seat.

The loss was the council's second in the past 15 months. Mayor Steve Lampi died of cancer in February 2011.

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409

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