Dr. James Meyer never stopped enjoying his work.
“He loved practicing medicine,” said wife Karen Meyer. “He would have gone back to med school and done it all again if he could.”
Meyer continued working after retiring from his Minnesota urology practice in 2010, by volunteering at the Neighborhood Health Clinic near his winter home in Naples, Fla. The clinic provided medical services to working people who couldn’t afford health insurance.
Meyer died on May 26 at his home on Christmas Lake in the west metro after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 80.
“He was the kind of doctor, and friend, you could call at 2 a.m.,” said Harvey Mackay, a neighbor and friend. “In a delicate profession, he always put the patient at ease. He had a tremendous bedside manner. He was an excellent listener and gave excellent advice.”
Meyer, who was born to John and Eleanor Meyer on April 24, 1940, in Melrose, Minn., displayed a strong work ethic from an early age. He was the youngest of eight siblings and worked at the family-owned business — a lumberyard.
After graduating from Melrose High School in 1958 he enrolled at St. John’s in nearby Collegeville as a pre-med major. He worked his way through his undergraduate years by playing the saxophone in a big band that performed at area events.
After graduating from St. John’s, he was accepted at the University of Minnesota Medical School. After completing medical school, which included a semester of study in London, he began a residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
His residency was interrupted by military service. During the Vietnam War, he served as a captain in the Army, stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska. After the war he returned to the Mayo Clinic and completed his residency.
He then started his career as a urologist, practicing through Urologic Physicians PA, primarily at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. He eventually served as chief of staff at Fairview Southdale and president of the Hennepin County Medical Society (now Twin Cities Medical Society) and the Minnesota Urological Society.
“One of the reasons Fairview Southdale became the hospital it is today,” said Dr. Mark Fallen, a former colleague of Meyer’s, “is that it hired good people, like Jim, in specialties. He was a general urologist with an in-depth interest in benign prostate diseases and coming up with new ways in treating them.”
Fallen said medical companies sought Meyer’s advice and he had a great rapport with referring doctors.
“He was caring and honest and focused on the doctor-patient relationship,” Fallen said.
Outside of work, Meyer was avid about fitness. When he was 68, he completed the 500-mile Ride for the Rockies, a weeklong cycling tour in Colorado. He and colleagues took an annual ski trip and he was an avid golfer.
“From the get-go, he was someone you wanted to be around,” said Fallen. “He came from a large family in Melrose. He was a farm boy who hunted and fished and had musical talent. He was well-rounded.”
Mackay agreed, saying that he and Meyer attended many ballgames together over the years and, “he was friendly and would strike up conversations with many strangers.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by son Christopher and daughters Lyndsay and Kelly, four grandchildren and six of his siblings. His first wife, Linda Kay Cunningham Meyer, died in 1988.
A private service will be held and a celebration of his life is planned for later this year.