F. L. Meeder, globe-circling Christian


Although Franklin L. Meeder Jr. was dying, he still visited and walked on the Great Wall of China.

Mr. Meeder, 66, who as an advocate of Christian missions had visited more than 73 countries and six continents, died Thursday of cancer of the pancreas at a son's home in Pylesville.

His last trip abroad was in March, when he went to China and, despite being in great pain from his illness, walked on the Great Wall.

"He was indomitable. He just kept going until the last," said the Rev. Dr. John Murray Smoot, who accompanied him on the trip. "This very month, he had planned to go to Turkey to visit friends and associates."

Mr. Meeder's travels -- or "peregrinations, like a falcon's," as Dr. Smoot described them -- put him in touch with more than 100 missionaries.

Upon returning home, he would share his experiences through pictures and lectures at Central Presbyterian Church in Towson.

"He was going over there and bringing it back here. He helped to keep a revolving interest in world missions," said Dr. Smoot, pastor emeritus at the church.

Mr. Meeder did much of his traveling after retiring in 1983 from the Chesapeake& Potomac Telephone Co., where he had worked for 37 years.

His wife, the former Mary Bedsworth, died in 1980.

For the past decade, Mr. Meeder traveled six months of every year, touring such countries as Hungary, Yugoslavia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In Taiwan, he developed a relationship with orphans in impoverished areas of that country's west coast and sent money to help support them.

In 1987, while touring what was then the Soviet Union, he met an Army general in Moscow and heard his Christian testimony.

In 1986, Mr. Meeder was within 150 miles of Chernobyl on the day of the nuclear disaster.

In June and July 1990, after having visited Honduras, Nicaragua and Ecuador, he worked in East Berlin and West Berlin as a street missionary with volunteers from other countries.

"Dad was there at the Berlin Wall when communism was collapsing, and saw people hammering at the wall with sledges and hammers, shouting for their new freedom," said Daniel T. Meeder, one of his four sons.

For four months in June 1991, Mr. Meeder traveled by ship to Hong Kong and other ports in Asia.

After undergoing surgery for cancer in December 1991, Mr. Meeder continued his travels, said another son, David P. Meeder.

"He returned from trips and often would go directly from the airport to Johns Hopkins Hospital for scheduled chemotherapy treatments," David Meeder said.

Years ago, Dr. Smoot performed the marriage ceremony for Mr. Meeder and his wife, who at the time were young Sunday school teachers at the Port Mission in Fells Point.

Soon after their marriage the Meeders joined Central Presbyterian Church in Towson.

Mr. Meeder studied for one year at Kings College in New York. He left school to spend more time teaching foreign sailors who attended the mission.

He is survived by his four sons, Franklin L., Daniel T., David P., and Stephen B. Meeder; his mother, Ethel B. Meeder; a sister, Ruth Degele; and six grandchildren.

A funeral will be at 2 p.m. today at Central Presbyterian Church, 7308 York Road, Towson.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the Franklin L. Meeder Short Term Missionary Scholarship Fund of Central Presbyterian Church.

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