William J. Meyers Jr., 71, a former mounted patrol officer with the Fairmount Park Guards and the Philadelphia Police Department, died of a lung disease on Saturday, April 12, at the Courthouse Convalescent Center in Cape May Court House, where he had lived for the last three years.
A 1960 graduate of Cardinal Dougherty High School, Mr. Meyers, known as Bud, was an Army Special Forces paratrooper from 1961 to 1963, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"When he was ready to be discharged, they asked him to go to officer training school," but he declined, his former wife, Ruthann McGeever, said.
After working for a Philadelphia copy machine firm, "he was 27 when he went on the force in 1969," she said.
He chose the Fairmount Park Guards because "he liked the uniform, the boots. He was a paratrooper. He was one of those guys that liked that look."
She recalled that "he was a very social individual," and the uniform gave him "a nice presence" as he went about his job in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood.
When Mayor Frank L. Rizzo in 1972 made the Park Guards part of the Philadelphia Police Department, Mr. Meyers continued as a mounted officer, working out of the Ninth District on 21st Street near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
"He had the good and the bad" on the job, McGeever said, the good being patrolling Rittenhouse Square or watching folks heading to an evening at the theater or a concert.
Mr. Meyers had not ridden horses before joining the Park Guards, she said, but once in the saddle, "the guy loved his job."
"He didn't even consider it a job. That's how much he loved the Police Department," she said.
But in 1989, "he suffered a head injury" after being hit by a car while he was off-duty, and "was in a coma for two months and had to learn to walk."
Their divorce became official 10 days after the accident, she said, but because their oldest child was only 21, "I took over making all the decisions. That's how I became the legal guardian."
While she still lived in Olney, "he was institutionalized," but after she moved to Ocean City, N.J., "he lived in my house for 10 years."
Despite being divorced, she said, "I never had a problem making decisions for Bud. Bud was a good man."
Jim Kerrigan, a former Inquirer composing room worker, said Mr. Meyers "was a friend of mine since we were in fifth grade. He was the funniest guy I ever knew in my entire life. I'm 71."
Kerrigan recalled him as "a spit and polish guy," an attitude carried over from Army days.
"When he was in uniform," he said, "his boots were always shined . . . creases were perfect."
Besides his former wife, Mr. Meyers is survived by sons Sean and Ryan, daughters Shanan Evangelista and Tara Verdolini, and six grandchildren.
A visitation was set from 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 40th Street and Asbury Avenue, Ocean City, before a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass there. Burial is to be private.
Donations may be sent to www.phillypolicefoundation.org, for the Police Mounted Unit.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.godfreyfuneralhome.com.