Biography of George Meinert
By Vincent Meinert
George Meinert was born September 10, 1892, near Eldridge, IA. He was the youngest of four children born to Peter and Marie Meinert, Scott County farmers. George Attended Scott County schools, where he was an exceptionally good student, and later went to Brown’s Business College, where he took a commercial course, specializing in bookkeeping. Again, he made a good scholastic record.
Like his older brothers, Gus and Emil and his sister, Emma, George served at home doing the familiar and difficult tasks that were the lot of most farm boys—plowing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, etc. He, like his brothers, was a fast corn picker. However, George was not interested in farming as a career. Instead, he wanted to try his hand in the business world, especially in the accounting line, for which he was particularly well suited. In 1911, he got his chance. Brown Business College learned there was an opening at the National Cast Register Company. Knowing of George’s ability, they recommended him. George took the job and did so well the National Cash Register people sought to send him to a special school for further training for a higher place in the company.
About this same time, however, George’s brother Emil, a master auto mechanic, who had been with the Velie Motor Company several years, established a business of his own, known as Hawkeye Motor Company. It was located in Davenport. Lozier autos was their specialty as well as, general auto repair. George was persuaded to join the company and served with Emil two years, when the venture was discontinued because of over extension of credit, etc. It was a pioneer undertaking in a new field, but limited help and some carelessness on the part of employees added to the problem.
In any case, Hawkeye Motors went out of existence in 1914, with Emil going to the Cadillac company, and George, after getting his parents approval, headed for the west to take employment as bookkeeper at the Index Lumber Company in Index, WA. This employment looked promising until one day, a close acquaintance, who was an official at Index, tried to induce George to forge a check, using his father’s name. This, of course, was totally unthinkable as far as George was concerned, so he left Index immediately, unemployed and with no appreciable funds.
Shortly thereafter, while at the YMCA at Tacoma, George learned of a Standard gas Station seeking a temporary employee for the Fourth of July holiday. He applied for the job and got it. After three days of work, his good work was noticed by a company representative and offered him a permanent job in the Tacoma office. This marked the beginning of a career that continued for over forty years as an Oil Industry employee.
World War I broke out in 1914, but the U.S. was not involved until 1917. George was with Standard Oil at the time and on entering the war, was promised his job would await his return. He served with the 361st Infantry, headquartering out of Fort Lewis, WA and was discharged as Sergeant, 1st Class. Standard Oil was true to their promise, and for the next 12 years George served in many different capacities, including several very responsible sales and administrative positions.
All went well until a superior insisted that George Meinert train for a credit department position with Standard Oil. This was not to his liking because he preferred to be with people and to be in the sales field. He, therefore, resigned his position with Standard and shortly became affiliated with Socony-Vacuum until he reached retirement. In those years, he had ably represented Socony-Vacuum as an auditor, personnel manager, sales, manager, and district superintendent.
George married Ethel Edris, a former IA girl and a graduate of Penn College, of Oskaloosa. They met during WWI at the home of Ethel’s brother and were married shortly after the close of the war. Two daughters were born to Ethel and George. One daughter was Dorothy, who was a professional artist with J. Walter Thompson Company in New York and is now a professional designer located in New York. The second daughter was Mary, now the wife of Major Gordon Priest, a WWII army veteran who flew 25 missions over the ETO, escaping without a scratch, even though he was in the thick of the worst Nazi air battles. The Priests have two children, Robert, now (1964), a freshman in the University of Oklahoma, and Marsha, a junior in high school. The family has lived in many parts of the U.S., Europe, and Formosa in the Orient before their present assignment at Camp Robbins, Georgia. They own property in Florida.
During WWII, George was in HI, and was living on Waikiki Beach when the Japanese sneak attack took place on December 7, 1941. Strangely enough, George’s brother Emil also was in HI at he time of the Pearl Harbor attack and was, in fact, on Hickam Field when the enemy bombers swept over, devastating the field with it’s planes and the Harbor with its US battle wagons, etc. Emil had to seek refuge under a grader. George was farther from the scene of the actual bombs; whereas Emil, following his heroic work saving lives at the Harbor, left for other defense work stateside, George remained in HI throughout the war.
While in HI, George carried on with critical defense work in the fuel line. While there, he met with Emil several times, as well as with his nephew Grover, then an army captain bound for the Philippines and other Pacific combat areas. In addition, he also met with his future son-in-law, Captain Gordon Priest, stationed on a U.S. aircraft carrier during part of the war.
The marriage to Ethel was dissolved by mutual agreement. After leaving HI, George continued his work with Socony-Vacuum, serving in various capacities on the Pacific coast. While at San Jose, CA, he met Virginia Walker, an attractive business woman, born in Baltimore, Maryland, whose home was then San Mateo, CA. Some time thereafter, Virginia and George were married, making their home in San Francisco for many years before moving to San Diego, where they lived several more years before returning to an Oceanside home back in San Francisco.
George continued to be active, serving as a representative of the San Francisco Better Business Bureau, in which he has many interesting experiences, and in addition as a sales manager for the Materials Handling Equipment and Supply Company, of San Francisco, dealing with trucks and trailers.