Memories and Thoughts

Dear Peter, Eli, and Jessica,
Barbara and I were very saddened to learn of Meredith’s death. In my last communication with her in the fall, she talked of seeing the eclipse at Yellowstone. When we didn’t hear from her while we were in Denver, we simply assumed that you were on a post eclipse travel adventure or had gone west to see the Grand. Your email came as a sad reminder of how life and death play fast and loose with the best laid plans.

Meredith was a remarkable women, as you all know, and a good friend to us. She helped me land a job at the VA, helped us find our home in Ann Arbor, and even though I met Barbara years before I met Meredith, I’m pretty sure she had a hand in that too. She also helped clothe Libby for the first 2 or 3 years of her life with clothes from Eli.

She was a friend and also a mentor to me. She helped me navigate the ways of the federal bureaucracy and taught me a lot about politics, office and otherwise. I will always remember her advice “if you control the flip chart you control the meeting”.

Even though our contact was infrequent, we will miss Meredith. But that doesn’t begin to approach what you all are feeling. Meredith’s death has left a hole in all our hearts, some much bigger then others.

Our sincere condolences to you all.

-Love, John and Barbara Paglione

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“My first memories of Meredith are from when I was in high school in Ann Arbor. She was pregnant with Eli and she had come over for dinner. I had lent her my yellow hooded sweatshirt from my high school volleyball team. I remember listening to my parents and Meredith talk about the hospital and I was mesmerized. Once Eli was born, I babysat for her on occasion, then she moved to Madison. When she learned that I was coming to Madison for college I babysat for her again, this time for Eli and Jessica. She was wonderful about inviting me over for a home cooked meal every once in a while which was very much appreciated when the cafeteria food got very repetitive. She had a confidence in me that I didn’t have in myself. When I graduated she told me, “Go get some work experience, and come back and work for me.” I always thought she was kidding, why would she want to hire me? But then I received a call from her and she offered me a job and I worked for Meredith (and Tom) for 15+ years. Meredith was a huge influence on me and treated me like family. She was extremely hard working, creative, smart, assertive, and caring. She was such a natural leader, she made me want to work hard and do my best to make her proud. I credit her for teaching me how to write! When she moved to Colorado, we didn’t keep in touch as much as I would have hoped, but when we reconnected, it was like we hadn’t missed a step.
I will miss you Meredith!”
-Susan Mooney
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“The most insightful person on healthcare ever. A wonderful warm friend. Always think of Meredith when I make some of the dishes we made for dinner together. The funniest however was the “baked in the microwave ” when the Spear oven was not in operation”. So many wonderful memories. Wish there were more in the future. Miss you Meredith”
-Bobbi Wolfe
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 “Meredith and I met about 46 years ago in Boston and became fast friends. We travelled together to Ireland, where she mentioned to me there was a Doctor in the lab where she works (her words”he might just be fun for a night or two”). She fixed us up, we had our blind date, and 44 years later we are still married happily with three grown married kids, and five grandchildren.
After it was clear Bruce and I were on the road to marriage, Meredith felt she deserved a Finders Fee. I was quite shocked, but her powerful reasons led me to give her a brand new KLH stereo set I had just bought.
We kept in touch off and on for many years and many phases of our lives.
Ironically about ten years ago, Meredith was pitching a job to UCSF where my husband was dean…he was astonished to see her in her professional mode, and even more than that impressed with the presentation. She got the job!…and we started a whole new phase of our friendship all over again!
She was one of a kind…bright,sympathetic,a great listener,witty,savvy…there are not enough adjectives to truly describe her.
I feel blessed we shared soooo much, and of course forever grateful she introduced me to my husband. I really loved her.”
-Marya Wintroub
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“I have lots of memories of Meredith having worked in the close confines of the Madison office, traveling through all those airports, and all those drives back and forth to Chicago where we plotted to annoy “Navigation Lady”. I would love to hear how Meredith interacted with Suri or Alexa.
But more importantly, I remember the precise shifts in my view she provided that informs the professional I became after leaving KSA. Some of those view shifts came directly from her boldness and willingness to challenge conventional thinking. Other view changes came from being included in the unique thought leadership engagements she attracted that allowed me to see institutions, innovations, collaborations and trends as other life forms that mature, morph, die and rebirth. When she told stories – personal and professional stories – she re-framed situations so that you could see a deeper truth or deeper connections.
She also shifted my views on cats. Remember the black cat throw rug in the guest bedroom. We have live performance art of that piece in our house daily.”
-Joye Ebert Kuehn
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“I’m afraid I’m not very good with memorials, I’m overwhelmed with how poorly my words convey both my understanding of living through the death of someone you love and the mystery and awe of those that have had to do something that I have luckily never had to live through.   I know that there is an enormous depth of sadness that comes with death of any loved one, and when the loved one is your mother, to be honest I can even imagine it.  But, I can’t help but smile when I think of your mom.  She was always so wry, so funny.  Thinking of Meredith literally makes me feel good, makes my memories richer, makes me happy that I knew her.  This goes back a long time.  I can’t remember if it was 1965 or 1966 when we met in Ann Arbor.  She was the least likely member of a sorority to be a member of a sorority.  These weren’t my best years, and Meredith got me through some of the most difficult times of my life.

Of course, Ann Arbor was the sort of place everyone left in different directions.  I didn’t see Meredith again until we moved to Madison in 1983. I was pretty confident that it was that moving was bad decision, until within a few days or weeks of our getting there I spied Meredith and Peter in line waiting for the same movie.  I remember her greeting me as if fifteen years was fifteen days.  She and Peter (and Eli and Jess) turned our confidence that things were going to turn out badly into confidence that they would turn out well.  And they did.

I feel terrible that we haven’t been able to see your folks in so long.  I did get periodic news from your mother and how joyful they were after Peter’s retirement.   But we moved east, as you all moved west.  As you doubtless now know, New Yorkers are afraid to cross the Hudson (I think you need a visa to do it).  The photos on your mother’s memorial website shows it so well.  The warmth of smiles is contagious and reminds me of your mother when we first met a half century ago.  We’ll be back this summer and we’ll see you then.  In the meantime, we’ll celebrate Meredith with a damn good wine.”

-Larry Hirschfeld

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“I had “met” Meredith many times over the years, but I truly met her when I became interested in some alternative ways to provide help to persons who could use some, and asked for her thoughts. That was when I really experienced the range of her piercing mind, the creative approach to life, the sly but on-the-mark sense humor, and her devoted interest in making world a better place. It is said of many that they will be missed, but there has rarely been a truer example.”
-Paul Repetto
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“Meredith always brought a smile to my face whenever I saw her. It was hard not to get swept away by her positive attitude. She will be missed!”
– Sameer Oza
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“Dear everyone in Meredith’s wonderful orbit,
It is hard to imagine that so much life force has exited the world! Somehow, I have the feeling that her spirit is out there making keen observations with great style.
Peter and Meredith befriended us in 1985, prior to our move to Madison, when we were househunting. They reached out and created a friendship of 32 years. Typical…warm, inviting and having space for new friends in their already large circle and also having the ability to sustain and nourish a friendship over many years.
Some thoughts and memories:
Meredith was so smart, classy, funny and, as we know, had a great artistic sense. Their houses were always welcoming with the most beautiful, fun and inviting decor that reflected the fullness of their lives.
I came Boulder for a visit about 2 years ago. Meredith picked me up at the airport. “Don’t worry, you’ll recognize me, my hair is the same blue as my car!”
From the beginning, I loved talking to Meredith about the health care scene. It was a shared passion. Meredith was an astute observer with a sharp mind. We probably would have all done well if she ran the whole thing.
Meredith’s reach was vast. She believed that for academic physicians, their offices should be separated from their clinical space so they wouldn’t try to do their research when they were supposed to be caring for patients. A few years after she told me this, a medical school classmate (a pediatric intensivist and my former bridge partner) at Penn mentioned “someone moved my office 2 blocks from the ICU, now I’m just stuck in the ICU! I chuckled but didn’t let on that that someone was a good friend and that she made her point.
This was one awesome woman. Peter, Eli and Jess…I can only imagine your loss. I send your my condolences. I have also known you all for many years and know that you carry the spunk and love of life that were her trademarks.
My love to all, Susan”
-Susan Davidson
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“Try to imagine the conservative mid-west, the repressed VA, the slowness of progress in that environment, the world’s dullest cafeteria: then imagine Meredith walking into that room!!! Whoa…who dat? what’s dat? Our new Associate Director? You’re kidding! What a burst of light, fashion, originality, courage, insight, energy, and perpetual knowing smile. A smile that wasn’t insulting, just philosophical. Meredith was a pleasure to know, and an inspiration to observe. She thought “outside of the box” before that expression was invented, and we were sad when it became apparent that the VA was simply a box too small. Lucky family – short-changed friends.”
-Ted Goodfriend
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“What a fantastic person!

I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Meredith at Kurt Salmon. She was quick, passionate, and always kept me pushing to do my best. I’ll never forget the first time I met her. It was at her house while I was filling in on a project at the University of Wisconsin. About the first thing I try to do is sit on a piece of art that looked an awful lot like a chair….. I was fortunate to be able to work with her on a few projects and met with her a few times in Tucson after her retirement to give me advice which she was always willing to do. I will miss her and pray for you.”

-Luke C. Peterson

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“Dear Peter, Eli & Jess,
We have lost one of the good ones – one of the best. My aunt Meredith was so damn cool, so sharp, so hip and authentic. She always got the joke. Everything would be ok if Meredith was around because her perspective was so clear, optimistic, and novel. I’d like to believe in heaven if only to believe my mom and Meredith are going shopping with a cocktail in hand right about now.Some tidbits that stay with me for various reasons:
1. Last summer, Meredith and I took my 13 y.o niece shopping. This kid could make a trash bag look chic, all gorgeous dark hair and long limbs, with a personality for days. My niece came out of the dressing room in a tiny romper, glow-y tan, smiling expectedly at us, and Meredith just turns to me and goes “Well F_ck.” I mean, what an exquisite use of the English language and hilarious grasp of the injustice of age.
2. About 20 years ago, Jon and I stopped in Madison on our trip cross-country. Meredith and Peter were hosts extraordinaire. One night, late into evening talking on the couch, Meredith was sharing something going on with one of my cousins and explained nothing upset her “but the edges.” Meaning, there wasn’t a thing she’d judge or condone in their lives, but she wanted to hear the bulk of a problem versus just getting a sense of the edges. I always think of this with my own kids: just share the heart of the thing instead slowly revealing the jagged edges. Edges are harder to smooth.
3. A Meredith gem, shared in Boulder: Screw serving food hot for guests. Make it ahead, serve it lukewarm, and actually enjoy your guests’ company when they arrive. No one will give a shit.
4. Same trip in Boulder, I asked Meredith some deep, pretty personal questions about my parents. I think it would have been easiest to answer them in a way that allowed me to preserve my innocent, naive perspective of them. But Meredith explored what I was asking and why, considered the truth in all its layers, and then answered, trusting I was an adult asking an honest question in hopes of getting an honest answer. I wish I had told her that that talk allowed me to love my deceased parents so much more deeply and authentically, and I am so grateful.Meredith was all sorts of fantastic things – and always direct. I think when you are so fair and strong, you can always be honest because your intentions and words reflect your decency. I will truly miss that honesty, will miss all of Meredith actually, just knowing she was out there. I will miss observing the partnership between Meredith and Peter. It was one of brilliant, loving equals traveling the world, enjoying the day to day, and sharing their love with their community, family, and friends.I love you guys.”
-Jeni Howe

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“It’s been several weeks since the call from Tom DeChant about Meredith’s passing. I needed time to digest the news of Meredith before I could even look at the memorial site. Meredith to me was a spitfire of a woman, a force to be reckoned with and a fearless leader. Traits that were impressionable and admirable to a young 30 something year old assistant at KSA. Meredith was an accomplished business owner a loving mother and an art piece in and of herself. She always came into work, looking trendy with some new spikey hair color that had attitude and flare. She reminded me of what an ageless goddess truly is. I enjoyed my five years working with her and I will miss her dearly. May she be in peace and live forever in our hearts.”
-Lucy Kubly

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“I met Meredith a few years ago in Tucson. I don’t have any stories, but I was lucky enough to have had lunch and dinner conversations with her. Of course, they were fabulous talks! The one thing I do remember is how proud she was of her children. So, to Eli and Jessica, I’d like to share a poem.
‘I am fooling only myself when I say my Mom exists now only in the photograph on my bulletin board or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I hold so tight. She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay. Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide.’ We will miss you Meredith. Hugs.”

-Carole Feistmann

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“Dear Peter and family,
After reading many of the memories of Meredith I’m sorry I didn’t know sooner what an amazing, loving, giving, person she was, apart from the little bit I knew of her from our interactions at SVP meetings. I’m also sorry I didn’t meet her sooner and didn’t have longer to get to know her better, because I think that would have been a joy in my life as it was so obviously in the lives of everyone she touched. I’m sure she will be very much missed by everyone who knew and loved her, as well as by our community, which was very fortunate to have had her support for so many years. My heart and thoughts are with you all during this sad time of missing her and I trust so many of the memories are inspiring and happy that her legacy will be one of hope, love, and courage.
In peace and love.”
– Dianne Ladd

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“Dear Meredith,
It has taken me two weeks to have the courage to say goodbye to you.
I am sitting here deeply saddened and still in shock at the loss of my friend. I simply cannot believe you are no longer here and we will no longer be holding hands.
My name is Cindy and I have provided manicures to Meredith for 20 years. One might think how odd that is to express missing holding hands of a friend, but it makes a connection have deeper meaning. Every two weeks for all of these years, with the exception of the few years Peter and Meredith were away from Boulder, I have gotten to dive into the life of Meredith. I loved her enthusiastic inquisitive and inclusive nature. She was profoundly passionate about life, family, friends business, people, travel, animals and her charitable work to the causes she loved. I marveled at how strong she remained through all of her health challenges. She showed grace and a beautiful form of dignity unlike I have ever seen. She consistently showed concern and interest in all details regarding my son and me. she offered sound advice every time I asked her opinion, and she was never judgmental. Meredith blessed me by calling me a good friend to her one of the last times I spoke with her. For this, I am profoundly grateful.
Meredith, I can’t believe I am saying goodbye to you for now. Thank you for everything you have added to my life. Thank you for calling me your friend and thank you most of all for being my friend.
Deepest sympathies for your loss Peter, Eli and Jessica.”
-Cindy Gross
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“Meredith, my Meredith – are you really gone? I feel so privileged to have known you and shared in your wisdom. You understood the world and were willing to cut through all of its crap. You demanded (and deserved!) the spotlight. Your single goal was to help us all (and particularly your healthcare colleagues) to evolve. Whenever I see the following quote, I will be reminded of you –
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.”
You were my Darwinian hero – and I will miss you. My heartfelt condolences to Peter and your family.”
-Craig Acosta
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“Dear Peter, Eli and Jess –

My clearest memories of Meredith are from my early college days.
Like many kids who all too willingly flee the shelter of home for the relative freedom of college, I quickly found that while I liked making some of my own rules, I felt too adrift without any family keeping me within bounds. Surely that is why I chose to attend University of Wisconsin* – Scott and Marie and Peter and Meredith were all there, holding it down for the Spears.

Meredith was an adult who could treat 18-year-olds like adults without seeming like she was trying too hard to be cool, and utterly without condescension. She understood me, as much as anyone could. Adolescence is an endless series of awful and uncomfortable moments cascading endlessly, one into the next. Sometimes the only thing that can get you out of that vortex is the reassurance from an adult who conveys in their tone and manner that you’re going to be fine and anyways you’re already fine, so stop worrying ya dumb shit. Meredith was one of those rare adults. She was reassuring without trying to be. She was kind and respectful to me at a time when kind and respectful were not the baseline of my experience. And that made her incredibly cool.
While I was taking stock of the time I spent with Meredith, one memory in particular cropped up. Somehow I am convinced that I had the opportunity to work for Meredith and her partner for what seemed at the time like boondoggle rates. Like many memories from this time of life, it could be timeworn and also mixed up with other half-digested events. But I’m pretty sure she gave me a chance to work for her. Or maybe I just hung out at her office for a day or two while I was in some kind of transit limbo. If I didn’t actually work for Meredith, then she just made me feel very welcome and important at her office. At some point during that (day, week, month???), she and I had a conversation. The words we exchanged didn’t matter as much as the impression it made on me at the time: here is a really competent and accomplished and kind person who has had and seems to still have a lot of fun, and I feel good being around her, and she makes me feel like I can be a better person.
I wish I could have personally thanked Meredith for that little push she gave me. Did she know she was giving it? Whether or not she did, I am extremely grateful for it, and I will miss her.
Love, Jonathan”
– Jonathan LaChance

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“The first time I ever met Meredith was in 1984 when my uncle Peter and she had recently begun seeing each other (or so I recall). It was in Columbia, MD and my grandfather Ivan Spear was close to the end of his life and family was coming in from all over to spend time with him. Peter brought Meredith and I remember that I was very curious to meet my uncle’s new girlfriend who was rumored to be quite smart, successful and independent. I was a 13 year old kid reading a book that was blowing me away; The Color Purple. I remember that this book was so different than anything I had ever read and it needed to be discussed. Meredith wanted to know what I was reading and engaged in a discussion with me, in a way that I wasn’t accustomed. With Meredith, I couldn’t just say “I love it”, I had to explain why and what the characters meant to me. The beauty of it though was that she listened and asked questions and gave me a voice. That I still remember this 34 years later, just shows what an impression she left on me.

Flash forward a few decades. It was January of 2000. I was going through a divorce and it happened my father and wife, Martha, had just had a baby that was very sick in the hospital in NH. Meredith was on business in the area and she asked me to meet for dinner. She was so incredibly supportive of me and what I was going through and was insistent upon going to see my little baby sister in the hospital. Now this little girl was no relation to Meredith, this was my dad’s child through a second marriage, but Meredith absolutely insisted that she go with me to visit Sarah. That moment of kindness was what I needed then and I’m not sure Meredith knew how much I appreciated it. It’s not lost on me that the recent years leading up to this time were also difficult years for Meredith and her health and I recall that she spoke so openly, that night at dinner, about her breast cancer and recovery and reconstructive surgery and I was left with this feeling that anything can be dealt with if one has enough courage. That may be the biggest gift she gave me.

One other, sort of funny, but not surprising story. When I was in grad school in 2000/2001, I found myself on a project with a team member who worked at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in NH. One day, while meeting with the team, this student started telling a story about an amazing consultant who was working with her group in the hospital. She told this whole story about how the consultant was helping the hospital maximize their space in order to accommodate more patients without having to add more exam rooms. My classmate was so impressed because this woman told the doctors that one way they could accomplish the goal would be to actually have a reasonable amount of hours in their day devoted to patient office visits! Apparently this was something the rest of the staff said under their breath every day, but had never voiced out loud. Who was this legendary consultant? Ours truly; Meredith Spear. To say I was proud would be a huge understatement.

Meredith, you led an impressive life. You acted with passion in every area and you were strong and loving. When I think of women who made their mark, you are right up there at the top.”

-Mariya Hurwitz

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“Dear Peter,

Erika and I were heartbroken to hear about Meredith’s passing. She was a wonderful and uplifting friend. We marveled at her energy, thoughtfulness, success and generosity. I enjoyed talking with her from the first time we met in the late 1990’s. She was a welcoming and gracious host at your beautiful home on Baseline Road after you moved to Boulder. I missed you both when you moved back to Madison and then retired to Tucson. I was delighted when you moved back to Boulder, and Erika got to know both of you. Erika and I loved our dinners together. Erika especially enjoyed getting to know Meredith. Erika admired Meredith’s intelligence, experience, success, and great outlook on life. Getting to know Meredith helped Erika reflect on her own career, and recognize her own successes. We will both miss her very much.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Eli, Jess, Rowan and Tom”

-Paul Beale and Erika Gulyas

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“Dear Meredith,
The first time I met you, I was transfixed by your hair, which seemed to me like a bold statement that could only be worn by a strong woman. I was right.
After you and Peter came back from your trips to Italy and then to Portugal and Spain, you invited me over to your house to tell me about the trips. And, when I came back from England, again you invited me over to hear about my adventure.
Each time you made both of us a delicious latte and motioned me to sit, always in the seat with the view – facing the magnificent Flatirons. Intrigued was the feeling sparked by this very interesting woman. Adjectives that best describe you – smart, irreverent, kind, generous, funny, direct, caring, trusting and always very fascinating. I chuckled when you’d throw in a salty word here and there.
Your love for Peter, Jessica, Eli and the fur babies, Rusty and Portia was evident. Beyond that, it was easy to discern your attraction to colorful flowers, wonderful art, choice cheeses, progressive politics, and bold trips around the globe. Upon learning of your death, a mutual friend described you as a “power house in the Boulder charitable community.” Isn’t it nice to learn when especially good things are said behind one’s back?
To learn that you died felt simultaneously like a kick in the gut and as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. I was looking forward to again sitting in the gazebo, sipping latte, reveling in stories of travel and in our mutual despair of the craziness going on around us and of getting to know you better.
After coming back from Washington, D.C., I was so excited to share the adventure. I knew you’d love hearing about it. I can see your expression, hear your laugh, and see you slowly shaking your head in approval as I related how many fine young women there were marching and of their tremendous energy. It’s a generation of women for whom you helped pave the way.
Thank you. Thank you for being an example of how wonderful a person can be.”
-Deb Grojean

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“Meredith changed my life.
I met Meredith when I was a graduate student at the University of Michigan. At the time, she was working at Wayne State University and I was interested in finding an actual “client” for my Architectural thesis project. I had set up a meeting with Meredith’s boss and he invited her to the meeting. That meeting became a turning point for me because I met Meredith.
Meredith became my client (for the thesis), graduate adviser, mentor and friend.
At our first meeting Meredith mentioned although she worked in Detroit, she actually lived in Ann Arbor and wondered if I could help move her from her Ann Arbor apartment to her new house on Manitou Court. I helped.
She officially became my thesis advisor and also worked with the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Architecture. The work she did at Michigan ultimately became the foundation of her consulting business, Space Diagnostics–but that was a few years later.
After Eli was born, I became Meredith’s “Official Photographer” and I recognize some of the photos on this memorial site as mine. Also, for the first time I will admit all the embarrassing baby pictures of Eli are mine too.
Meredith’s advice was invaluable in guiding me through my thesis and with Meredith’s guidance, I enrolled for a second Masters degree at Yale. Although I did not know it at the time, Meredith’s advise would be invaluable in guiding me through life.
After graduation, I joined an architectural practice in New York City and tried to bring Meredith in to as many of our projects as I could because she could analyze complex operational design problems better than anybody I knew–including me. One of our clients was the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer center where everybody is pretty much the world’s foremost authority in their areas of expertise. At the time I invited her to help on the Sloan Kettering project, Meredith was working for the Veterans’ Administration and consulting on the side. When I told the president of Sloan Kettering I was bringing in a consultant from the VA, he objected saying there was nothing in the VA that could be of interest to him or of value to Sloan Kettering.
Then he met Meredith.
After the meeting he continued to refer the “that very impressive lady” for many months. But, I already knew that about her.
Over the years, I tried to stay in touch but time and distance intervened and I have not seen Meredith for several years. However, I probably still think about her every day. Meredith inspired me to be the very best I could be. She had a great sense of humor and an intellect second to none.
I still think about that meeting at Wayne State University. The weather was poor and I hated driving to Wayne State because parking was impossible. But I went anyway and ended up meeting the most inspirational person I have ever know.
I am very sorry to hear of Meredith’s passing. I will miss her very much. I wish to express my condolences to Peter, Eli and Jessica. as well as her brother Ken.”
-Mark Walch

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“The first time I met Meredith in the fall of 2015 we had a “blind date” for lunch. She had just become my New Partner Buddy at Social Venture Partners and it was our first meeting. Because neither of us knew what the other looked like I asked her to describe herself. She said “I have blue hair”. I remember pausing and thinking: She must mean blue, as in “old lady” blue hair, like my grandmother had after she went to the beauty parlor and got a blue rinse. Boy was I wrong about her hair color and more importantly about her having any hint of “old-lady-ness”.
Sadly, my friendship with Meredith was cut way too short. But my admiration and respect for her will last forever. Whenever we talked she always cut to the chase, pinpointing what was most important, discarding all of the superfluous rhetoric. She had wit, she had charm, she didn’t hesitate to tell me her opinion or mince words. Like the blue streaks in her hair, she was a true original.
I loved her smile and her laugh, which often had a mischievous bent.
Since the news of Meredith’s passing reached me I’ve been thinking about how best to honor her. I’ve decided to try to live an authentic life and to recommit to my desire to share whatever talent I have with others, to make my community a little more just, and treat others with the dignity they deserve. That’s my pledge to you Meredith, along with my thanks for being my friend and my Buddy.
And every time I eat one of your favorite cookies, a Pepperidge Farm Gingerman, I will think of you and smile.
-Kay Paine

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“I have only recently come to know Meredith, only in the last two years. I wasn’t sure initially I would feel comfortable with her, but then there was this delicious night of getting to know her at an SVP (social venture partners) meeting where the late night speakers became such an unwanted intrusion. I have grown to respect Meredith tremendously, hanging on every word of her opinions and analysis of organizations and thriving in her belief of what we could accomplish. She inspired me! Her directness delighted me! I haven’t found many role models in my life and now I know how hard it is to lose one. She leaves a big empty space in my heart and at SVP lead partner meetings.”
-Lester Wall

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“I’m sitting in an airport lounge (perhaps fitting given how much time she must have spent in them over the course of her career), and have retyped this note half a dozen times already. In part because I still haven’t digested the news of Meredith’s passing, but mostly due to the fact that I am constantly revising my sentence construction and punctuation because I don’t want Meredith frowning down on me from heaven!
(I’m still not convinced my previous sentence would receive her approval, but I’m going with it for now. For those of us lucky enough to spend time with Meredith at various KSA conferences, never forget “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”).
I was a wet-behind-the-ears consultant when I joined KSA in 2003. Meredith was the awe-inspiring Facilities practice leader with the flamboyant hair and intimidating intellect. I spent more than a decade with the firm, but the awe never faded. It remains one of my biggest regrets that over the course of my career at KSA, I never directly worked for her on a project. (I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how that happened… I was on plenty of academic master planning engagements!) But despite that, she always took the time to call me, find out how I was doing and offer advice. Even after her retirement, she made it a point to stay in touch – and every six months or so we’d talk about all the crazy things happening in the academic medical center and children’s space that we both love.
I’ll miss having her around. I’ll miss our conversations. My heartfelt condolences to her family – she’ll be dearly missed.”
-Farzan Bharucha

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“I had the privilege of working with Meredith on a number of projects. Her intelligence was profound. She always had the right insight. And she suffered no fools. Her irreverence in just the right moments always kept us fresh and engaged. I’m sorry she’s gone. She was a bright light.”
-Robert Cull

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“THANK YOU for all your amazing contributions to our community. It was a joy and pleasure to work along side you! You will be missed dearly by so many. Soar with the angels!”
-Dan Catlin

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“We have so many wonderful memories of Meredith—her sharp wit, her deep passion for social justice, her incredible business acumen, and her love of friends. We met Meredith when Peter became dean at CU and it was an “instant match.” Over our many dinners together, at parties and our ski weekends, Meredith’s laughter and generosity created a wonderful friendship that has lasted many years. From Boulder, to Madison, to Tucson and then back to Boulder again, Meredith was the bond that kept us together. We shared a love of family and values that enriched our lives. She was such an original thinker and a creative force in everything she did. We will miss you so much, dear Meredith, and we feel privileged to have had the pleasure and joy of your friendship.”
-Janet and Gary Jacobs

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“Meredith and I met in our shared profession as advisors to academic medicine.  She and Tom DeChant founded a successful firm and over time we merged and all became partners at Kurt Salmon Associates.  Meredith became the first woman appointed as a national service leader, the first woman to serve on our global board and most importantly, we became friends.  Among the many memories I have of Meredith, one has and always will stay with me.
Meredith was leading a visioning discussion of a large group of academic faculty leaders and challenged them to imagine how they would be world leaders, serve if you will in the vanguard of medicine over the coming decades.  The subsequent discussion among the faculty was uninspired; incrementalism at best, with the status quo ruling.  While Meredith was tactful as a professional, she wore her emotions plainly and growing impatience became evident in her demeanor.  Still, patiently she persisted in prodding the group on, but to no avail.  Finally, she leaned forward and broke into the uneventful dialogue.
You are leaders in your field,” she intoned, pausing then to gather the attention of all in the room, “and I’ve just given you Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers and with these you may travel anywhere in the world!”  With full command now, exasperated, “and are you really telling me all you’re going to do is go to Kansas?!”  With this the entire inflection of the discussion shifted to bigger aims and contribution and importantly did so in an inspired, positive and hopeful way.
This was Meredith Spear:  insightful, brilliant, candid and creative in ways words cannot do justice.  She was truly one-of-a-kind.
A few years ago walking through the Kansas City airport, my eye caught a white shirt in the gift shop emblazoned with a brilliant glittering set of ruby slippers, totally Meredith and aptly titled, “Dorothy’s”  I bought it and placed it in my drawer at home intending to send it along to Meredith as a holiday gift.  Well, the time flew and I never got around to it.  Now I’ll just keep it as it’s been, reminding me of her.
Farewell my friend, safe travels!  I’d love to know where you asked your Ruby Slippers to take you, but no matter where you’ve ventured, it’s better place for you being there.
I miss you. ”
– Mark Wietecha   

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“I am so sorry about the loss of Meredith. She was a lively and engaging person and we are both happy to have spent good times with her in Boulder. Our love and sympathy.”
-Robert and Lorraine Kelley
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“When I first met Meredith, some 40 years ago, she was a hippy!! She was single, working for an Ann Arbor architectural firm as a student intern…. testing the waters, so to speak, since she was planning to get her PhD. in architecture.  I was married, had 4 children, was 10 years her senior and had recently completed a masters degree in public health. Unlike Meredith, I was a late bloomer. I was also a “proper Bostonian”, in other words, a total square. Against all odds, we became best friends.
The first project we worked on together was designing a health care facility inside of Jackson Prison, which was the largest walled prison in the world at the time. Together, Meredith and I designed a facility where basic health care could be provided at the prison. It had to be secure in terms of prison needs but also safe for physicians who came to provide services.   We were pretty proud of our plan but before it could go forward, we had to present it to the Director of the State prison system, his assistant directors and the wardens of every one of the many Michigan prisons. Talk about a bunch of macho men who could barely stand the idea of two women coming to their meeting . Actually,  the Director of the prison system was an enlightened, wonderful man; the rest, not so much. So, here I am in my proper navy blue suit, as tailored as could be, trying to make my best first impression.  And there’s my dear friend Meredith, who shows up in her jean jacket and slacks…..pantsuits were not “in” back then. I was aghast !But the thing is, she was so damn brilliant that as soon as she opened her mouth, they all had to listen. Happened every time. It was a joy to watch. I’ve also been known to say that she was the best bull shitter you ever want to meet.
Eventually, Meredith decided against going for a PhD in architecture but then she told me about her next best idea. She wanted to have a baby. OK, said I, but you aren’t married. Didn’t I say that I was a naïve square? Well, said she, she thinks she needs to get pregnant now because pretty soon she’ll be too old and besides, she had worked it all out. I was flabbergasted, of course, but Meredith taught me sooooo many things. Indeed, she did arrange it all, quite brilliantly, and soon gave birth to wonderful-beyond-words Eli, whom we all adore.
We were so thrilled when she met you Peter in Madison,WI.  Enter Meredith, all grown up but still her own person, the gracious and charming wife of the Chairman/Dean/ Provost/ at the University of Wisconsin and also the brilliant health care consultant. You guys were such an incredible couple. Meredith was also a wonderful mentor to our youngest daughter, Susan, who was fortunate enough to work for Meredith for several years at Space Diagnostics and then Kurt Salmon.  She taught her how to write and Sue knew she had arrived when she finally turned in a report and Meredith had no corrections.”
-Marilyn Lindenauer

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“It hard to say in brief thoughts just how I think of Meredith–amazing, warm-hearted to the highest degree, a mentor, a friend and a true colleague. If she believed in something or someone, she was totally committed and persevering. Never without energy, never not honest, and always there if she was your friend.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all”
-Laura Stillman
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“I had the good fortune to meet Meredith and Peter at a New Year’s Eve party in Tucson. Her energy was magnetic and it did not take but a second for she and I to realize that we had a fast and immediate Friendship to develop. And, our husbands were instant friends as well with their shared interests in cycling and motorcycles ! Absolutely, a win/win relationship right from the start !
I admired her poise, her grace and her dignity….her intensity…. We were both trying to define this new chapter called “retirement”…. we laughed, we lunched, we hosted a few fabulous New Year’s Eve parties…we raised cockapoos together….Harley and Velo….we shopped…Meredith loved to dress me…she even gave me some of her wardrobe items (oh, Giff, they will look better on you !)… I marveled at her generous Heart…. we shared a common Philosophy of Life….. And then she moved away….HOW DARE SHE !!!!
But being the devoted Friend that she is, we succeeded in keeping our long distance Friendship strong….. Ron and I shared a lovely Summer visit with Peter and Meredith in Boulder…. And a fabulous Rocky Mountaineer Train ride from Vancouver, BC
to Lake Louise and Banff…..
Every year at New Year’s, I choose a word to focus on for the rest of the year. This year, I chose PASSION…… How can I up the anti in my Passion for Life ? There are so many areas to practice this Passion including Family, Friends, my Volunteer work, travel….and, whatever else that might evolve. For all of us who knew and loved Meredith, we know that she was  “fiercely passionate” in most every area of her Life.
Little did I know that I chose a word that will now be practiced in memory of Meredith…..I will emulate Meredith as I follow my journey of Passion
Thank you, Jess and Eli for such a beautiful photo journal of a …..Life Well Lived…..
RIP, my Dear Friend, Meredith….I can only hope to see you on the other side.
I Love You !”
-Giff Foltz
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“Meredith was a key influence in my early career and I think of her insight, wisdom and guidance often. I will forever be thankful for the opportunities and connections Meredith provided me. Meredith will be greatly missed and I send strength and love to her family.”
-Jamie Armstrong
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“Growing up with two amazing brothers I still yearned for a sister. I was blessed with two wonderful sisters through my brothers’ wives. I sadly lost one in 1990, but was fortunate to have Meredith for more than 30 years.
Meredith taught me about the potentials of women. She was a role model in so many ways. She taught me about charity, beautiful clothes, and where to find good coffee in the most obscure places. She encouraged me to show my voice. When she took me on a tour of Bridge House, I returned to Vermont to get involved with our local shelter. Her enthusiasm was contagious. Her heart was immeasurable.
I watched Meredith go through more medical procedures than anyone I know; more than anyone should have to. And yet she took the ups and downs with determination and without complaint. Meredith taught me how to approach life’s hardships with courage and dignity. She was the first woman I ever met with a tattoo! Now I have one too.
It is not just that I am witnessing my brother’s loss and pain, not just understanding Jessica and Eli’s bereavement, it is the loss of my sister that I grieve. Your memory will live with me forever. I loved you Meredith and I have comfort knowing you loved me.”
– Nina (Spear) Salvatore
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 “She was to me an elegant, courageous woman, I admired her intellect, her sense of adventure and passion for style.  I thought their love story was unusual; with mutual respect they were great companions and had a lifetime of love.”
-Kay Smith
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“There are a few very special people in life who, because of the intensity of their very being, are truly unforgettable. That is Meredith. I consider myself very fortunate to have had Meredith in my life, to have called her my friend, to have had her mentor our daughter, and to have experienced her gift of caring for the world around her. Meredith will always be a special friend because there’s just something about Meredith that won’t leave me, something that I will carry with me every day as an inspiration in my life.”
-Bill Obermeier
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“To all who knew and loved Meredith (the two went hand and hand) I offer my heartfelt condolences. I was fortunate to know her back to her college days and treasured the opportunity to reconnect again and again in California and Michigan. She was a remarkably gifted woman who was calm even when she was in the eye of the storm. We met at the University of Michigan where she was an incredible managing editor of the Michigan Daily. Adroit, funny and the kind of person you turned to again and again. Meredith was fair minded and passionate about her work, family and travels. No matter how busy she was she was always able to take time out of her busy life to offer kind help. More than anything else she took joy in connecting good people and in my own case the results were amazing. Meredith had the kind of integrity that could take over the room. Sometimes just a look was all you needed to put you back on course.I have many treasured Meredith memories among them the night that we had to decide whether or not to publish a big scoop, a front page story on the forthcoming announcement of the new President of the University of Michigan, Robin Fleming. In the end, after exhausting all our sources, we had to decide if we were in over our head. The judgement call was ours to make and in the end we all turned to her knowing of course that our mistake would make us the laughingstock of the campus. She said go for it. The next day handing out our paper ahead of the Regent’s meeting scheduled to make the big announcement she was brimming with confidence. It was a proud moment for her who went on to share her good judgement across a long and distinguished career.”
– Roger Rapoport
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“Meredith played the hand she was dealt with aplomb, creativity, bravery, humor and warmth. We will miss her strong presence.”
– Judy and Ben Sidran
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“When I moved to Boulder in 2011 I didn’t know a soul. As luck had it, my realtor introduced me to Meredith. She welcomed me, and made room in her already busy life for our new friendship to grow. And grow it did! We shopped, we lunched, we traveled, we cried and laughed, and she became my best friend in the way that often takes decades to build.
Meredith was a private woman, yet outspoken about what mattered to her. Bold and daring, yet sensitive to nuance and individuality. A friend with the capacity to be brutally forthright, yet tenderly loving. A person who cared deeply about the human condition, and found ways to make an impact that transformed the lives of those she touched. Never one to stand on ceremony, she invested her time, her energy, and her love in ways that connected deeply with everyone. She had an extraordinary authenticity that never waivered, and perhaps was the reason so many people who knew her felt her advocacy and support.
I can honestly say that my entire sense of community in Boulder extends from that introduction to Meredith 5 years ago. Although she will no longer be with us, the extent of her reach will live on in all of her friends who love her so much.
My dear friend Meredith, I love you…I miss you!!”
-Laurie Hathorn
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“Our hearts breaks for Peter. And for Boulder, Bridge House, Jessi, Eli…..the list of those Meredith affected so powerfully may not not be finite.
Meredith was inclusive, warm and generous. I so enjoyed (and will grealty miss) our gin on the rocks together. Two olives, please.
For me Meredith was the definition of steadfast and kind.”
-Carrie Dalton
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“Jessica & Eli, You and your parents were such a transformative force in all of our lives. You welcomed us in at all walks of life regardless of life’s circumstances or geography, your family has been a beacon to me and many others. Our hearts share and feel the heavy burden of grief and also the celebration of Meredith’s strong spirit. Peace to you and family.”
-Austin Tierney
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“I love this woman.  I feel like I have known her all my life but it was only a few short intense years.  Meredith and I probably had 500 meals together.  Usually just the two of us.  We solved all the problems of the world – healthcare, homelessness, politics, poverty.  We talked about books, movies, kids, grandkids, dinner parties, houses, investments, animals, travel, breast cancer, art, operations, husbands, friends, sports, who was doing what to whom, haircuts, clothes, crock pot recipes, cars, how we could make the world a better place.  We planned parties and events and trips.  Meredith was the best advice giver ever and when you asked for it you better be prepared because it was unfiltered, not sugar coated, and not always what you wanted to hear but it was usually right.  Her family was the most important thing in her life, dogs second, and friends a real close third.  If you are reading this and you were lucky enough to have Meredith for a friend, you know you are lucky.  Her smile, her sense of humor, her intelligence, her integrity, her love of life, her dedication to the causes she cared about – it was what drew us to her and kept us coming back again and again for another Meredith fix.
There is a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that describes Meredith’s life so much better than I can:
‘To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.’
You succeeded, my friend.  I only wish it had taken you a little longer to do it.”
-Stephanie Rudy
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“Before we moved to Madison in 1995, we were nominally cousins seeing one another once a decade at most. In my initial interviews with UHS I went over for drinks at the house on Waunona Way and Meredith made the lark of an idea of moving 1200 miles from the known world in Austin to the frozen tundra seem eminently reasonable. From setting us up with her realtor who helped us find a great family house, to regular invites for thoughtful, delicious meals with cigars and scotch on the boat dock in fair weather, Meredith provided the glue that bound us to place and proved that the move was a fertile one for all five of us. And Eli and Jess became the big cousins for Ben, Di and Philip (who called him E-wi) teaching them to sled and skate–at Meredith’s gentle behest I’m sure. We would visit them in Boulder after the CU Dean move and would delight in their return to Madison as Provost. More meals and family visits and cigars on Lake Mendota were had. Relaxing visits to Tucson and Boulder II followed their retirement and our repatriation to Texas. Cousin Peter and Eli and Jess are in our thoughts, but I’m also feeling a great personal loss realizing I can no longer call up and talk to Meredith and pick up right where we left off and plan our next meal together. She was just very good at being a hostess and making a Spear male feel relaxed and amongst family and life will be much less fun without her.”
-Scott Spear
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“I first knew Mary Jo thru her early friendship with my sister back in Shaker Heights, and became close friends with her brother Kenny. That was a gift. I first got to really know her when I moved to Cambridge in the early 70’s and started hanging out some with her and Innes (McDade)at their Inman Square apartment. I needn’t add to how smart and totally ‘hip’ she was, and her great sense of humor, often self deprecating. What I most remember was the time, after some months, that she stopped introducing me as ‘my brother’s friend’ and switched to ‘my friend Lee’! I was genuinely honored and we laughed about it later. I feel lucky to have been friends once.”
-Lee Weisman
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“Eli and Jessi, I am so sorry for your loss. Jessi, I remember her making the Bernaise sauce from scratch for your wedding in the Pingree’s kitchen. It was the best sauce ever and she put so much love into it. She was also so cool! She let us hang out at their house in Colorado and then head up to the cabin when we were in college. I loved how she decorated the houses. Love you both!”
-Jessica Hoffmann
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“This is Kenny, the brother, again. It is such a gift to me that upon my wife Kelly’s suggestion, my granddaughter and I flew out to Colorado last August to see Meredith and Peter. They had never met Cammy and it seemed time for her first airplane flight, at 4 and a half years old.  She’s kind of in the “your not taking my picture” mode, but she had a wonderful time.  At the house Cammy would often wander into Meredith’s bedroom. I’d hear myself say, “What are you doing? That’s her room.”  To which Cammy would reply, “She’s always let’s me come in”
Meredith always let us all come in. I always felt she did her best to make everyone comfortable in any situation. So, one more thing. We went out to dinner and Cammy, as often, didn’t touch much food, but she was standing quietly at the outdoor table where we were seated.  Meredith said to her, “You know what you are?  You are poised.”  Neither Cammy nor I was sure what that meant. Meredith explained that she was able to stand still and wasn’t running around all the time. Well, that’s not exactly the granddaughter I know, but it was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever said to Cammy, at least while I was listening.
I wanted Cammy to see mountains for the first time in her life (we live in Ohio) so Peter and Meredith happily obliged. There we are!  At least my sister looks good. This location is very close to a part of the mountain where my parent’s ashes are spread. It is my understanding that Meredith may join them there. We will see. Every time I look at the pictures on this site I start to cry. Some of the tears are sad, but many are tears of joy. Thank you, Eli and Jess for putting this together for all of us.”
-Kenny

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“I loved getting to know Meredith after she and my cousin Peter married. Whenever I saw her I was always taken with how smart, cool and beautiful she was. She had such a sense of style! It was obvious to me that she and Peter adored each other and I was so happy for my cousin that they found each other. I will miss her and am glad that I was able to visit Peter and Meredith in Boulder this past September. I wish I had fotos of Meredith from that visit but I only took pictures of the dogs!”
-Sona
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“There really aren’t words sufficient to describe this beautiful person. We met her and Peter around 1986 when we built our house on Thorstrand Road in Madison. They were the ONLY ones in that established neighborhood who would talk to us, especially after we put up our neon EATS sign…But we quickly became close. They were our Friday Night Friends, we spend almost every Friday night together, usually with all of our kids. We’d sip cocktails (gin for me and Meredith) before dinner and we’d watch scary movies that Meredith picked out to expand my horizons away from romcoms. We’d drink Meredith Mix (B&B and B) after dinner and smoke cigars. In the summer, this happened on one of our boats to watch the sunset. They had a beautiful house that they made even better when they expanded their closet into a walk-in and introduced a new meaning to the word “closets.”
When they moved away from Thorstrand to Lake Monona, we still did Friday Night Friends (and now so do our daughters and Jessi and Tom who are all in Seattle). Peter and Hawk and I were allowed only a few minutes about University issues, then we had to talk about something way more interesting.
She was such a good sport!!! Just so great. She really didn’t like sailing trips and was often down below in big blows. Sometimes she was on the bus…(not really, she always stuck it out). She was there every time. I loved that about her.
I loved a lot about her. She was so so smart but never condescending. So cool but never better than anyone else, except she really was. I loved her style, her beautiful clothes, her hair (which I copy) and her makeup (both my daughters and I still only use Trish). I will especially miss the laughter, the wide open mouth laughter because we found a lot to laugh about.
When they moved to Boulder we were devastated. We visited them almost every year, but so so happy when they came back to Madison. Meredith asked me to help them find their Madison house and we did! We were so honored that they chose the one we picked for them, and then we had Friday Night Friends again!
We retired the same year, moved away from Madison the same year, but still saw Peter and Meredith at least once a year. We did a couple more trips with them, so glad we did that New Zealand one! But so busy with our distillery we didn’t spend enough time in Boulder. So glad that the last time we saw Meredith was at the Willows at an amazing dinner we shared with Barbara and Luke.
Thank you Meredith for giving me Barbara, it helps a little to have her. But no one could ever replace you, I miss your sweet beautiful mind, your kindness, your incredibly interesting personality, how much you loved your Peter and your wonderful children.”
-Suzy (and Hawk) Pingree
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“When Eli called us, he asked us to write stories about Meredith. So, I started writing. I began 40 years ago, when we first met, and it has been a very helpful process so far. I’m not done and I’m not sure I’m ready to share what I’ve written with everyone yet……but I plan to keep writing and then I’ll decide. It will be wonderful to have these treasured stories for Rowan when she grows up. In the meantime, Marty and I send our love to Peter, Eli and Jessica. M&M xoxoxox”
-Marilyn and Marty
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“As a “new” friend, there is so much about her that I did not know.  Hearing from those who have a history with her, looking at all of the wonderful photos, brings her memory to life for me.  She has left her mark on the world.  She was one of a kind.  I have never known anyone quite like her.  And even though she touched my life for a relatively short time, I will always remember her. Much love to you.”
– Lynne Troup

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“Meredith was a cool cousin who was kind and generous to our family while our son, Jonathan, was a student at University of Wisconsin during the late ’90’s. We looked forward to our visits to Madison, which usually included a visit with Peter and Meredith. We always enjoyed our time spent with them. We are so sorry for Peter, Eli, and Jessica for their loss and send our love to you all.
-Emily and Dave
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“Meredith was my sister, and I may pop in here more than once since being her brother, her only sibling for that matter, I’m allowed to. I am her little brother, 3 years younger. She controlled me most of my younger days simply by saying, “Be a good brother and get me a coke” or “Be a good brother and help me clean the kitchen” or a hundred other things. But let me tell you what a great sister she was. When she started dating in the early sixties, she would often go to La Cave, a folk hang out in Cleveland. So, if she was going to see Phil Ochs, for example, she’d say, “Why don’t you come with us, I think you’d like this guy.” How many teenage girls would invite their brother along on a date just because they thought they might like the music? One night Phil came over to our table to ask her, “What’s there to do in this town?” (Phil must have had something else in mind since he went to Ohio State and often performed in Cleveland.)
Anyway, I don’t think I would have taken up guitar were it not for her introduction to the cool music scene. And my first guitar was actually one she had bought for herself and lost interest learning to play. Meredith, or Mary Jo as we called her, was always just cool and nice. She always seemed to know what was going on, on many levels. Her friends seemed to have great respect for her. I remember once when she was with a few girlfriends I happened to sharply disagree with her about something. She just listened, not giving a rebuttal. Then she got up to get a coke or something and one of her friends was starring at me. I said something like, “Do you think I’m wrong?” and her girlfriend replied, “No, I just never heard anyone talk to her like that.” I suppose she would only allow her brother to do so.
Well, that’s a bit of Meredith the wise teenager and great sister. I will check in later. My heart and prayers go out to all. We are missing a remarkable woman.”
– Kenny Eiker
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“Meredith and I were not lifelong friends.  We didn’t work together.  We didn’t raise our children together.  Those are occasions and activities that generally bond friendships.  It’s unusual to make a BFF as adults with grown children and busy lives so well lived.  I was lucky to have found Meredith.
We had just returned from our five years in Australia and it wasn’t too long after you moved back from Tucson.  Maybe 2010?  Six short years ago?  We were at an art celebration at Jane Butcher’s house.  It’s unusual for us to be there and we didn’t know anyone.  We got our food and were sitting on sofas beside you and Meredith and we all started to talk.  That led to a plan for dinner the following week and we’ve been doing things together ever since.
In many ways, they have been big years.  We all traveled, watched small grand children grow, and invested in the community that meant the most to each of us.  I ran three marathons, Peter climbed and biked up and down many amazing places, Bill built the new Dairy and Meredith guided Bridge House.  We (almost) all turned 70, Portia joined the family and we celebrated special milestones together.  It was an easy, nice time and we had meaningful days.  As I reflect on how Meredith enriched all of our days, here are my highlights about the person who gave us all so much:
*  Smart!  Creative!  Great questions and great ideas.
*  She chose, or at least knew, the “best,” most interesting, contemporary books.
*  There was not a petty bone in her body.
*  She cared deeply about the world we live in.  And she worked to make it better.
*  She was a lady who lunched and she drew me in (even tho I am not a lunch date).  She didn’t let a week go by without a plan.
*  She invested in her children and in mine.  She guided Lara professionally with firm wisdom to give her a good decision making base.
*  She selected THE best art!  And she encouraged artists.  We have matching quilts that we both bought 20 years ago 🙂
*  Good food mattered to her and she and Bill were a great kitchen team.
*  She valued her friends and the luckiest people were the ones in that sphere.
*  Life was about living, not about complaining or wishing.
*  Her Fuss Day stories, and her Valentine babies were fun and funny!
*  She believed in $$$’s but she didn’t live an entitled life.
*  She built a home that was warm, welcoming, inspiring and substantive.
I’m not positive that I have another friend who measures up in all these ways.  I’m really going to miss asking Meredith a question and knowing we needed more time than we would ever have to explore the topic.
And I know that I have only a fraction of the memories that you have…and that will keep you going and that will bring you up short.
Her memory, her standards, and her inspiration will help all of us to live better, more meaningful lives.
I love Meredith and I will pay tribute to her memory for the rest of my life.”
-Michele Obermeier
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“Oh my god I am so sad. Mer was the smartest woman I knew and my dearest friend at Byron Jr High School and Shaker Heights High. The gift of her friendship and her smarts and her encouragement early on made ALL the difference in the life of an unsophisticated, plain, not-so-confident, uber sensitive girl with huge yearnings.
Mer was the first person to do my horoscope (I still have it.) and she told me I was going to live my life in public. I went on to have a Broadway career and am hugely active still after more than 50 years. She introduced me to tarot, which became a very large and important part of my life 20 years later, becoming friends and teaching with world class tarot luminaries like Mary Greer and Rachel Pollack. She gave me my favorite ever birthday gift when we were both living in Cambridge Mass. An orange tee shirt with a photo and caption that said : “Lenny Bruce died for our sins.”
She encouraged me to write which I have been doing ever since. . I still have her letters from those way back years in her amazingly distinctive handwriting.
We both played flute in the Byron Jr. High School band when we met. That’s when I knew flute playing was cool. I wanted to sing and she wanted me to. I left the flute behind and joined the high school choir.
Decades later when I had to become a wig wearer, she gave me the Frederick Fekkai, personally styled wig she wore when she fought breast cancer.
God, she was smart and generous of spirit and I am so lucky that she shared some of that with me.
RIP Meredith Eiker Spear, Shaker Heights High School class of ’64.”
–  Alaina Warren Zachary, nee Weisman