Warren H. Meeker: Longest-Serving School Board Member
In March 1912, Warren H. Meeker was sworn in as an Ames School board member for the first time. For the next 33 years, he continuously served the Ames board, 16 of those as president, until his retirement in March 1945. He is the longest-serving member in the history of the Ames School Board.
Born May 5, 1868, Meeker grew up in Binghamton, New York. He arrived in Ames directly following his graduation from Cornell University when he took up duties as an instructor in the mechanical engineering department at Iowa State College (ISC). In 1892, he became an assistant professor, then associate, and finally head of the department in 1907, a position he held until 1933 when he was automatically retired as department head. In 1934, he was named professor emeritus, and his portrait was hung in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union for several years. As a member of the Iowa State College staff for 55 years and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering for 26 years, Meeker used his wisdom and understanding to help both students and faculty as a school board member.
During World War I, acting ISC President E. W. Stanton appointed Meeker as director of war training under a contract with the war department. He helped train groups of 500 enlisted men sent to Ames for special instruction as auto mechanics, blacksmiths, and machinists. At around that same time, Meeker was appointed to a committee to investigate conditions at Camp Dodge in Des Moines, where he made recommendations for improvement.
In addition to being a school board member, Meeker served on the board of directors of Iowa State College for many years. For about 15 years, he was associated with the YMCA as chairman of the scholarship committee. Among his other professional affiliations were memberships in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Cardinal Key.
Meeker served the Ames School Board from 1912-1945. As noted in a centennial District publication, “his experience and knowledge of public school procedures proved most valuable in solving difficult problems and was especially helpful to new members.” In 1940 during his 29th year of service, he held the distinction of having served a longer term than any related member of a school board in Iowa. He devoted his life to the teaching profession and working with youth.
Professor Warren H. Meeker passed away on Friday, May 30, 1947. In 1951, an elementary school opened and was named in his honor. A new Meeker Elementary building was built behind the original building and opened in 2015.