Born Nov. 12, 1919 in Chelsea, she spent a great deal of her childhood in Chelsea with her paternal grandmother, Maud Ethel Rogers Lane, Will’s sister. Among her fondest memories of her great-uncle were the things he did to make his sister more comfortable when she was ill and before her death in 1925, when Coke was just six-years-old and living with her grandparents.
Most vivid was August 15, 1935, and the Lane family lived in Bartlesville. The Bartlesville newspaper called their home to tell her father that his Uncle Will had been killed in an Alaska plane crash.
She said when Will came to Bartlesville he “ate with us, but stayed at Woolaroc in the main lodge (Will was a great friend of the Phillips family). His room was on the mezzanine.”
Coke and her husband, James William Meyer, operated a flower shop and greenhouse in Caney, Kansas, retiring in 1968 to Scottsdale, Ariz., where they operated a hardware store before returning to Bartlesville in 1984. He died in 2004.
Proud of her Cherokee heritage, soon after her return, she immersed herself in Indian and family lore and shared her love and history with her uncle with many, rarely missing any activities at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, even during the past year. She joined Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club and became a part of the Museum Ropers (docents).
She was often the spokesperson for the family and was responsible, with Joe and Michelle Carter, former Museum directors, with putting together a 125th anniversary celebration of Will’s Nov. 4, 1879, birth and family reunion during Will Rogers Days in 2004.
“Coke Meyer’s spirited efforts to enhance the memory of Will Rogers had tremendous impact especially within the Rogers family,” the Carters said. “Her vivid, human and warm recollections about her childhood when Will Rogers visited Oklahoma were greeted with cheers by hundreds who heard her speeches.”
Jennifer Rogers Etcheverry, Will’s great-granddaughter reflected on her last visit to Claremore in November when she and Coke were interviewed for an RSU TV production. “As I sat beside her, listening to her share memories of her childhood and relationship with my great-grandfather, I was in awe at her spunk, wit and humor. I will always treasure that day. We are so fortunate to have had her in our lives.”
She was always willing to participate in events at the Museum and across the state. “Coke made so many contributions to the Museum dedicated to her great-uncle. It has been wonderful to have that continuing family relationship and having her here to share her memories,” said Tad Jones, Museum director.
In 2012 Coke published I Called Him Uncle Will, a recollection of experiences with her great-uncle.
She lived in Claremore a short time before returning to Bartlesville, where she shared a home with her son, Jim, and his wife, Susan. A son, Jerry, and his wife, Suzie, of Liberty, Kansas, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren also survive. A son, Billy Bob, born in 1942, died in a 1946 accident.
Services will be 2 p.m. Saturday at Bartlesville First Methodist Church. A family visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Friday at Walker Brown Funeral Home in Bartlesville.