By Amanda Dyslin
---- — MANKATO — Longtime friends of Rich Meyer point out the same thing: Everybody in town knew him, and the roots of his family's business went deep in Mankato.
“His family goes back a long way,” said Greg Vetter of Mankato, who was a friend of Meyer's for about 50 years.
Meyer died Thursday of cancer. He was 64.
Meyer & Sons' advertising jingle hints at its longevity: “Meyer & Sons since '31.” Actually, the family appliance business began in the mid-1920s when Rich's grandfather sold Frigidaire in St. James. And in 1931, Meyer & Sons established its presence in downtown Mankato where it still exists today and is recognized as the seventh-longest Frigidaire dealer in the world.
Meyer and his late wife, Vicki, owned and operated the business for many years and were third-generation owners.
Vicki Meyer died at age 62 in December 2012, and Rich Meyer had been diagnosed with brain cancer during the summer of 2009. But Vetter said Meyer was still working at Meyer & Sons when he went into the store in the spring.
Vetter first met Meyer through the Jaycees in the early 1960s, and they did business together through Meyer & Sons. They also curled together at the Mankato Curling Club, which Meyer's elder family members had been heavily involved in over the years, Vetter said.
The Meyers curled with the Vetters and many other friends for decades.
“He was outgoing but quiet,” Vetter said. “Always very friendly.”
Lorene Bleess of Mankato — who curled with the Meyers beginning in the 1970s for about 20 years — said the same. After curling they would often socialize, and they attended many of the same parties over the years.
“We've had some fun times with him,” Bleess said. “He was just a great guy and always gracious when you would go into his store.”
When Meyer was diagnosed with brain cancer, Vicki Meyer told The Free Press it was a shock because he had always been in good health.
He had surgery in fall 2009 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Surgeons removed the tumor, but Meyer said the following year that it was possible there may still have been some cancer lingering in his brain. He underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments and drug therapy.
Even during treatment, he was working at least part time at Meyer & Sons.
“I think it’s good for him,” his wife told The Free Press in 2010. “It makes him feel like he’s doing something.”
Meyer is survived by the couple's daughter, Kim Carlson of St. Clair, and two grandchildren. Their son, Brandon, died in a car accident in May 1995, leading Vicki Meyer to be one of the co-founders of One Bright Star, an organization that helps people who have lost a child.