Joseph Avery Meigs

June 6, 2019


Joseph Avery (Joe) Meigs of Cullowhee, age 77, passed away June 6, 2019 at the John F. Keever Solace Center (Asheville) after an extended period of declining health.  He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Carolyn Beardsley Meigs, his sons Tim Meigs (Julie), Ted Meigs (Karen), and Dan Meigs (Yovita), a sister Mary Wise (Otis), and seven grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Paul Meigs and Margaret Beall Meigs, sister Jane Schaaf (James), and brother Thomas Meigs (Barbara).    


Joe Meigs was a teacher, athlete, scholar, artist, author, musician, and do-it-yourselfer in countless ways - a true Renaissance man.  He was born in Atlanta, GA, on July 16, 1941, then grew up in Berkeley, CA, before moving to Jacksonville, FL, mid-way through high school, where he met the love of his life, Carolyn, over 60 years ago.  As the city’s basketball scoring champion and a Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star selection, he earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Florida where he played on the Gators’ varsity team before subsequently earning BA, MA and PhD degrees in English.  Prior to graduate school, he taught high school English and coached basketball in Neptune Beach, FL.  In 1970, Meigs joined the faculty of Western Carolina University’s English department, where he taught until his retirement in 2005 with standing as Professor Emeritus.  While at WCU, he directed the University Honors Program, helped establish an Honors residence hall and film club, coached the men’s varsity tennis and golf teams, gave numerous presentations at conferences, and taught a variety of popular courses that included Renaissance Literature, Shakespeare, and Film as Literature.  He received multiple teaching awards, and inspired thousands of students while sharpening their skills in writing, reading, and critical analysis.  After retirement, he undertook a second career as an author (publishing two novels and a collection of short stories) and award-winning artist, intensifying his efforts toward his lifelong love of painting.  He displayed and sold his art and photographs frequently at festivals, street fairs, and craft shows in western NC, including Mountain Heritage Day.  He served on the board of the Jackson County Arts Council, co-chaired Gallery One (Sylva), was a member and past president of the Visual Arts Association, and a member of Dogwood Crafters.  During his 49 years in Cullowhee, he found time for many additional hobbies and activities including movies, reading, restoration of early Datsun Z-cars, gardening, guitar, piano, choir, basketball, running, snow skiing, tennis, and golf.


Joe Meigs was an avid supporter of education, animal welfare, and the arts.  He volunteered as a leader in Boy Scouts troop 914, served as a reader for preschool classes, and donated paintings and photographs to various causes in western NC.  He supported Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra, Girl Up (AC Reynolds High School chapter), Humane Society of Jackson County (ARF), The Community Table (Sylva), and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Donations to any of these organizations in his memory, or to the NC Arboretum or Botanical Gardens at Asheville, in lieu of flowers, are greatly appreciated.


As Joe Meigs’s family members, we are grateful for the example he set as a father, husband, grandfather, brother, and uncle.  His memory, influence, talent, and love will live on through us, our descendants, and countless others he impacted in his nearly 78 years of life. A celebration of Joe Meigs's life will be held on Saturday, June 29th, 5:00 pm, at the Jackson County Recreation Complex's outdoor pavilion, 88 Cullowhee Mountain Rd, Cullowhee, NC. 



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