By Liz Best
DELRAY BEACH — Doris Asiel Meyer died peacefully at her Delray Beach home on Nov. 5. She was 96 years old.
She left her hometown of New York City, where she worked in former Mayor John Lindsay’s administration, for the sunny shores of Delray Beach in the late 1970s. Mrs. Meyer quickly made her presence known in the community here. She was well known for her small stature and king-sized heart.
Dr. Ted Bush, retired minister of First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach, knew Mrs. Meyer as both a friend and church member for the better part of the past 20 years.
“Doris was petite,” he said. “But she had tremendous insight and vision and could see beyond what was in front of her to see the bigger picture.”
This trait was never more obvious than when Bush’s son, Teddy, died at age 23 of a brain tumor. Mrs. Meyer wanted to do something in honor of Teddy besides just making a donation to an organization, so she combined Teddy’s love of baseball with her desire to do something lasting in his memory. Teddy’s Field was born.
Originally located in the Carver Estates public housing project, Teddy’s Field was the brainchild of Mrs. Meyer and the Bush family. In 2001, they found a neglected baseball field on Southwest 12th Avenue, and Mrs. Meyer donated $16,000 to renovate the field and turn it into a ballpark for the neighborhood children. Hurricane Wilma damaged the area so badly that Teddy’s Field had to be relocated to its current location at Pompey Park.
According to Bush, Mrs. Meyer’s attitude was simply, “Let’s do it. Dorrie made it possible to put down a field … and it gives a lot of kids a chance to play baseball who wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” he said.
Even though Mrs. Meyer’s health had deteriorated, she managed to visit the ballpark she built. Bush and his wife accompanied her on one of these visits and watched in amazement as children and parents approached her to say thank you. She then sat in the dugout talking with the young ballplayers while eating a hot dog.
“She could be comfortable with anybody, whether it was influential people or those kids in the dugout,” said Bush.
Her son, Bob Gimbel of New York City sums up his mother’s life like this: “She was a spunky lady (who) wasn’t afraid to stand up and speak her mind, and she had incredible intuition,” he said. “And she had a great sense of humor.”
Mrs. Meyer loved to play golf and she loved dogs. Gimbel said his mom played golf well into her nineties. He also said every neighborhood dog knew when she was taking her daily walk because she always had treats for them in her pockets.
Mrs. Meyer served as a nurse’s aid during World War II, and graduated from both Knox College in Cooperstown, N.Y., and Finch College in New York City. During the turbulent 1960s, Mrs. Meyer worked as a liaison for the New York State Federation of Republican Women.
Mrs. Meyer was preceded in death by her husband, Blakeman Q. Meyer. Along with her son and his wife, Despina Gimbel, survivors include three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral service, led by Bush, was held at the First Presbyterian Church. The family asks that memorial donations be made to Teddy’s Field, c/o the City of Delray Beach Parks and Recreation Department, 100 NW First Ave., Delray Beach, FL 33444.