By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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God Bless Thornton J. Meacham
When I received the news that Thornton J. Meacham, the dean of New York Black Lawyers, had made his transition last Sunday, October 4, 2009, I was sad for a minute. That is until I remembered that Thorny (or Meech, as I called him), had lived to be nearly 92 years old, and had accomplished so much in his lifetime.

I was impressed with the fact that he was the first African American to graduate from Fordham Law School, and that he was a formidable barrister in his own right. Those are definitely milestones that he accomplished at a time when there were few of his peers in that realm.

But I was even more impressed that he was a man who loved life, loved people, and people, including yours truly, loved him back. Though he had attained awards and accolades for his accomplishments, it was the fact that he was unpretentious, engaging, and fun loving that endeared him to everyone. 

Thorny was comfortable and often present in board rooms and high profile political and social events; but just as comfortable and present in community events, local clubs, parties, and celebrations of things that impacted Black people. In fact, you were just as likely to see him downtown at the Waldorf Astoria for a function, and at Showman's or Perks, later in the evening.

Remember the Copasetics boat ride? Meacham was there. The Support Network New Year Event? Meacham was there. The Omega Psi Phi boat ride? Meacham was there! If there was an after party going on, so was Thorny. The song "Daylight's Going to Catch Me up Again" should have been his theme song. At 4:00AM, Thorny was just getting revved up. He was truly a party animal. 

So, no, this is not a sad farewell, this is a message of gratitude. I'm grateful for having known Thornton J. Meacham. For his being a good friend. For his wisdom, knowledge, understanding, energy, and fun loving spirit.

Not only was Thorny a spirit of energy, he loved to dance, and did it beautifully. Woe betide the lady who got on the dance floor with him and could not hold her own. He had steps that attested to the fact that he was a skilled dancer.

The guys who saw what they thought was an old man were soon disabused of that illusion when he outdanced them, leaving them gasping for breath after having danced between six and eight songs straight without stopping (sometimes even with a cane to help him balance!) His dance partner may have been worn out, but he would just grab another partner and keep going.

Speaking of partners, honor and tribute has to be given to Shirley Scott, his life long companion and lady. It's clear that part of what made Meacham the dynamo he was, was her constant presence in his life, at his side, thick and thin, up and down.  What a striking pair they were. In this day and age of adversaries, it's wonderful to be in the company of people who are dedicated to each other the way these two were. 

My deepest condolences to you Shirley. My blessings to you as well. Saying that he is in a better place is a cliché. And I won't use it here.  Because I think the best place he ever was, was when you two were together.

There are, however, so many, many memories that you can look upon with fondness and pride; so many adventures and ventures that you two have shared. You are a sister to be admired for having the energy and grace that matched his (or was it that he had the energy and stamina to match yours?), that has transcended a quarter of a century. WOW!!!

I will miss the little man with the slightly raspy voice, the designer suits, the big smile, the iron clad handshake, and the energy that put ten men to shame. 

As we bid him farewell, I have but to hope that each of us is also blessed with the same energy, stamina, love of life, and longevity to go partying through the rest of our days with someone great in our lives, with good friends that are happy to see us and be with us. What a major blessing that would be.

With love,

Stay Blessed and Eclectically Black,

Gloria Dulan-Wilson



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