Former Jackson mayor of two decades dies at 86

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Carlton "Cotton" Meyer, who defined Jackson city government for two decades as mayor ending in 1993, died Friday at the age of 86.

Former alderman Jack Piepenbrok of Jackson said Meyer was an outspoken champion of the Jackson community.

"He never had anything on his mind but what was best for Jackson," Piepenbrok said. "He was a true city father."

"Cotton was big on riding around. You always knew when Cotton asked you to go for a ride, he was going to lobby you on something," Piepenbrok said.

"He was an old-school mayor," said former alderman and close friend Fred O. Jones of Jackson. "He came from a history of being a World War II soldier and taking charge of something when something needed to be done."

During Meyer's tenure, the city expanded its power plant and improved the sewage treatment plant. The city park was expanded.

Meyer, who served in the Army Air Force in World War II in Europe and the Middle East, owned and operated Jackson Frozen Food Lockers for 35 years.

But it is city government for which he is most remembered. Meyer served three terms as alderman in the 1950s and again from 1971 to 1973.

He served as mayor of Jackson from 1973 to 1993, winning election after election. But in April 1993 he lost to challenger Paul Sander, the city's current mayor.

"He kind of took it hard when he was defeated," Jones recalled.

"The people apparently wanted a change," Meyer said after the election. Even in defeat, he promised "to work for the success and growth of Jackson."

Sander has ordered the flag at city hall flown at half-staff until Tuesday.

"Cotton was always looking for what he believed to be the best interests of Jackson, and for that I always admired him," Sander said.

Carl Talley, who served as city administrator from 1972 to 1994, said, "We got a lot done. We worked together to lay the foundation for a lot of things. He was a real dedicated person."

During Meyer's tenure as mayor, U.S. 61 was widened between Jackson and Cape Girardeau.

"There were industrial expansions, park improvements. We expanded the power plant in Jackson a couple of times. Then there were water and sewer improvements," Talley said.

Former Cape Girardeau mayor Gene Rhodes remembers working with Meyer on industrial development and transportation efforts in the area.

"We had a very, very good working relationship," Rhodes said.

Visitation will be Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at McCombs Funeral Home in Jackson. An American Legion service will be held at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue after 9 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jackson.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church, with the Rev. Robert Henrichs officiating. Burial will be in Russell Heights Cemetery with graveside military honors.

Staff writer Chris Pagano contributed to this report.

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