Walter Avery Meares Jr., a former Burbank Leader columnist who wrote about city issues during the late 1980s and early 1990s, passed away peacefully in his Burbank home on July 9. He was 87.
He wrote a column for more than five years covering everything from potholes to the Cold War and foreign relations. He published essays in the Journal of the Photographic Society of America, Aerospace America and Manage Magazine.
Born in Chicago, he lived in Burbank for 58 years.
He served in the U.S. Navy in the late 1940s and returned to Evanston, Ill., after completing his service. He received his bachelor's of science degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University where he was a member of the Triangle Fraternity.
He met his wife, Lynne, in Evanston and they married in 1949. He was hired by Lockheed Aircraft Co. and the family moved to Burbank in 1951. He received his master's degree in science from UCLA. He worked for North American Aviation and was then hired by Litton Industries in Mississippi where he attained greater responsibilities in Operations Research, Systems Analysis and Systems Engineering for aircraft, ships and warships.
While there, Meares joined the St. Martin Lions Club in North Biloxi, Miss. He was rehired by Lockheed in 1976 and the family returned to Burbank. After he retired, he was an aerospace consultant.
Daughter Julie Frybarger learned two life lessons from her father — to see the world as it is and not as you want to see it, and that if one person speaks up, it would make a difference.
"He was truly a Renaissance man," Frybarger said. "There was nothing he could not do and do well once he put his mind to it."
He was a voracious reader of mysteries, Westerns and sci-fi as well as poetry, which he read and composed. He was also artistic. He could draw, paint and loved woodworking.
"He made a dollhouse with an elevator, sailboat and furniture, and created a mini train table for my brother," his daughter said. "He loved gardening and grew flowers and vegetables. He became 'Chef Dad,' and attended all our school events."
Meares' son-in-law, Brooks Frybarger, added he was a "Helluva man."
"He always found the best in all of us," he said.
Meares ran for school board in the late 1960s, and attended City Council meetings regularly. Once a reader suggested that Meares should run for City Council.
Meares was a member of the Burbank Elks Lodge No. 1497, Executive Service Corps of Southern California, served as president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Writers Assn., president of the Burbank Symphony Assn., president of the United Homeowners of Burbank, chairman of the Burbank-North Hollywood UCLA Alumni Scholarship committee, president of the Southern California Conference of Camera Clubs and won awards for his photography in worldwide exhibitions.
"For me, the most memorable thing about Dad is that he had this broad range of interests and an ability to become expert in almost anything," said his son Walter A. Meares III.
He received an Honorary Service Award from the California Congress of Parents and Teachers and was active in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and YMCA Indian Guides.
Meares was supportive of wife Lynne's dedication to La Providencia Guild of Los Angeles Children's Hospital. He used his computer skills to help his wife create newsletters and programs for the guild and took photos and videos of its events.
He and wife Lynne would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in August. Meares is also survived by his brother, Larry G. Meares; his children: Sharon Commins, Walter Avery Meares III, and Julie Frybarger; grandchildren: Melanie Shannon Commins, Justin Avery Commins, Lindsay Meares, Whitney Meares, Brooks Justin Frybarger; great-grandchild Calvin Brooks Frybarger; and his beloved kitty Merlin.
Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Friday, July 18, at the Little Church of the Flowers in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.