Horace David Myers, "Father of Grand Island Athletics," passed away at 97 years of age in the Town of Tonawanda on May 13. He fought until his final minutes.
Myers was a champion of public school athletics and was instrumental in the expansion of the Grand Island school system. He oversaw the construction of all the athletic facilities in the elementary, middle and senior high schools and was honored for his efforts in September of 2014 when the new Grand Island High School athletic complex was dedicated to him.
He named the Grand Island athletic teams the "Vikings." He always felt he had the support of the Grand Island residents and was proud of all the GI Viking athletes and the men and women he hired as teachers and coaches.
Myers was born Aug. 19, 1920, in Hornell, the only child of Horace David and Gertrude Bunker Myers. He grew up in Eden with his childhood sweetheart and later wife, Alice Jean Baldauf. He spent his formative years playing sports, hunting and working odd jobs.
In 1938, Myers attended Springfield College, but a family emergency forced him to return to Buffalo. He restarted his education at SUNY Cortland, where he ultimately graduated with a degree in physical education, however his return and graduation were interrupted by World War II.
Rejected by the armed forces due to residual lung scarring, he supported the war effort building aircraft engines at the General Motors-Chevy Aviation Plant. His co-workers nicknamed him "Heavy Duty" because of his compact strength and his initials "H.D."; the nickname "Heavy" followed him.
He married Alice in 1943 and they moved to Lockport before settling in the Town of Tonawanda. In 1949, Veronica Connor hired him to teach at Sidway Elementary School and together they inspired athletic and academic excellence for four decades.
Alice passed away in 1994 from Parkinson's disease and in 1998 he married Julia Hill Laing (deceased 2013) of Eden. He and Julie then "snow-birded" between Deland, Florida, and Western New York enjoying traveling, new friends and bowling.
While in high school and college, Myers excelled in gymnastics, tennis, boxing, badminton, chess, hockey and, above all, soccer. He received numerous trophies and awards throughout his career. A soccer scholarship has been established in his name.
As a parent, he took great pride in the academic and athletic achievements of his children and their spouses as well as the achievements of his grandchildren and their spouses.
From his first marriage, he is survived by his sons, Douglas D. (Jean) Myers and David E. (Patricia) Myers, M.D., of Williamsville; his daughter, Deborah L. (Cliff) Myers Meilun, M.D., of North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Grandchildren include David Scott (Michelle, M.D.) Myers, Gwendolyn (Jonathan) Gingrich, Daniel (Elana Korn, D.D.S.) Myers, Kimberly Meilun, Rachel Meilun; and two great-grandchildren: Margaret Myers and Camille Gingrich.
From his second marriage, he is survived by his stepsons, David (Rose) Laing, William (Jill) Laing, and Harry (Karen) Laing: and is predeceased by a stepdaughter, Sue (Stevan) Light. He is also survived by seven step-grandchildren, four step-great grandchildren and five step-great-great-grandchildren.
Visitation was held at the Laing Funeral Home in Eden.
A private funeral and internment is planned. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the H. David Myers Soccer Scholarship Fund during visitation hours or mailed to 353 Kenmore Ave., Kenmore, NY 14223.