In Memory of Will Meikle

--by John Geohegan


After a long period of declining health, Will Meikle died suddenly Friday, February 21, due to heart problems.

My friendship with Will started in 1984 when he called me on the phone after seeing my letter to the editor about misuse of the Second Law of Thermodynamics by "scientific" creationists. At the time, I believe Will was a member of a Committee of Correspondence which kept watch on creationist activities.

As our friendship grew and Will's health worsened, I visited him at his home on a fairly regular basis where we would discuss a variety of topics from a scientific perspective. Will was a chemist, whereas my approach emphasized physics, and we often found disagreements which made for lively discussions. Occasionally we went out for together lunch or a lecture. I think the high point of these outings was when we heard Linus Pauling speak at UNM. Pauling was one of Will's idols.

Will was a member of NMSR from its beginnings, and served as advisor on science and creationism. His extensive collection of writings on evolution and creationism were of great value to NMSR .Only one week before his death he provided a copy of Reports of the National Center for Science Education which added a significant chunk to the Thomas-ReMine debate. Will called often on the phone, leaving cryptic and amusing comments on the answering machine. On Thursday the 20th he proposed that our next get-together we would discuss the Scientific American article on dark matter. On Friday he was discussing with Dave Thomas the possibility of a science advisor for our new governor.

Two issues important to Will deserve mention here. First was all the current attention to fuel cells powered by hydrogen as if they might solve our energy problems, but the lack of attention to the energy necessary to isolate the hydrogen. Second, all the hoop-la about possible manned missions to Mars when it is a practical impossibility at this time. Unmanned missions are the clear choice.

Will was a chemist and found a deep satisfaction in understanding many phenomena such as tastes, odors, pheromones, DNA, heredity, and evolution in terms of their basic chemistry. It's difficult to over-emphasize the importance of such a scientific footing as a basis for a happy life. At times it seemed to me that Will thought it was necessary to explain to me that matter was made of atoms, but I now believe he was trying to emphasize the importance of the basics I already accepted. Our conversations caused me to grow.

Will's Obituary

Williasm Jackson Meikle, age 82, retired organic chemist, died Friday, February 21st, 2003, of heart complicatiuons. He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and did post graduate work at Iowa State University. During WWII he worked at various powder plants in Sunflower, Kansas and Baraboo, Wisconsin, and later at Olin Mathieson, East Alton, Illinois. He moved to Albuquerque in 1960 to work at Sandia Corporation. He later taught for the Albuquerque Public School System at Community School. He is survived by his wife, Frances; and seven children; son, Andrew Meikle and wife, Dana Renz and grandsons, Alexander and Braedon of McLean, Virginia; son, George Meikle of Cary, NC; son, William and wife, Anne Neuenschwander and granddaughter, Irene of Montpelier, France; daughter Susan Meikle of Bethesda, MD; daughter, Catherine Potts and husband, Brian Potts and grandchildren, Nina and Liam of Brookline, MA; daughter , Barbara Meikle and husband Bill Plitt of Tesuque, NM; daughter , Maggie Silva and husband, Bill Silva and grandchildren, Simone, Nathan, and Madeline of Albquerque. He was past president of the St. Andrew Society of Albuquerque, and Science and Creationism advisor to New Mexicans for Science and Reason.

Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to the National Center for Science Education, PO Box 9477, Berkely, CA 94709-9477.