February 11, 2009 in City, Idaho

Farmer, legislator Wayne Meyer dies

Associated Press
Jesse Tinsley photo

Wayne Meyer, one of the last grass seed farmers on the Rathdrum Prairie and a former state legislator, jokes with family members while clambering into a tractor on May 4, 2007, near Rathdrum. Meyer passed away Monday. He was 59.
(Full-size photo)

Former Rep. Wayne Meyer has died of colon cancer. He was 59.

Officials at English Funeral Chapel in Coeur d’Alene, which is handling the funeral arrangements, said Meyer died early Tuesday.

Meyer, a bluegrass farmer and Republican from Rathdrum, served in the Idaho House from 1995 to 2004 and served on the Education, Business and Joint Finance-Appropriations committees.

“I don’t think Wayne ever had an enemy in the Legislature,” Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “He was the type of person who tried to be a peacemaker and he had friends in both bodies. Everyone was aware of his background as a grass farmer and appreciated that he walked a fine line in that area.”

While in the Legislature, Meyer fought for money to protect North Idaho’s underground drinking water source, sponsored a bill that made the huckleberry the state fruit, helped maintain simulcast racing in Idaho and helped create the dual enrollment system that allows high school juniors and seniors to take college courses for credit.

Celia Gould, director for the Idaho Department of Agriculture, said she had lost a friend and agriculture lost a great advocate.

“When I served with Wayne in the Legislature, I knew him as a man that would stand on conviction,” Gould said. “Being politically correct never entered his mind and for that he was always highly regarded by his colleagues.”

Outside the statehouse, Meyer served as a high school basketball referee for 22 years and was chairman of the Rathdrum Chamber of Commerce’s legislative committee.

He was also one of the last bluegrass farmers on the Rathdrum Prairie to burn bluegrass stubble, which clean air advocates said harmed air quality and the health of northern Idaho residents. Farmers maintained that the burning was necessary to shock the ground into producing higher yields.

The practice, once widespread in North Idaho, has dwindled to about 550 acres due to environmental outcry and increased development. Last year, burning was limited to two days, and 408 of the acres burned were Meyer’s.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter honored Meyer for distinguished public service during the Rathdrum “Capitol for a Day” event in December.

Meyer’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Coeur d’Alene. Burial is at Evergreen Cemetery in Post Falls.

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