He worked hard all his life to provide for his wife and seven children. And as if that weren’t enough, he also raised a grandchild and a great-grandchild.

Johnnie Marshall Meeks Jr. of Charlotte died at home April 2, 2012. He was 91, retired from Delmar Studios and had spent his entire career in the photography industry.

He met Rosalie “Rosie” Davis on July 4, 1948 at an Elks Club picnic, where she was helping with a fish fry.

“We met and hit it right off,” Rosie recalled. “He was a good husband, and we had a good life. He had no hobbies. With seven children, he had no time for fishing. He came home and helped me take care of the children. He didn’t want me to work as long as I raised children, and I didn’t.”

The couple added sons Robert, Frankie, Reginald and Johnny Leon to the family. They also welcomed daughters Brenda, Cecelia, granddaughter Nakhia and great-grandson Kennedy to the circle of love that was the Meeks family. Another son, James Davis, died at age 69.

Daughter Brenda Richmond recalls her dad saying, “The best thing I can give my children is to love their mother.” And he did that, long and well.

Faithful to his God

“He was just a good man,” Brenda said. “He was faithful to his God and his family. He led us to church and taught us about God and good ethics, He told us, ‘If you go to jail because somebody did something to you and you defended yourself, I will get you out. If you go to jail for stealing, I will leave you there.’

“If any of us ever fell out with one another, we did not go to bed without making an apology and reconciling what was wrong,” she continued. “If I got upset with Dad, I would call before I went to bed. Of his seven children, some did what he wanted, some didn’t, but he didn’t cast us out. He didn’t carry a grudge. I might be mad for the moment, but the next minute is a whole new day. He was a wonderful man of wisdom and honor. He was sometimes a man of few words, but we knew he meant what he said. He was simply a wonderful man, a man of his word full of grace, understanding and compassion.”

Johnnie, a Second Ward High School graduate, was a longtime member of Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church. He was a former member of St. Paul Baptist Church, where he was superintendent of the Sunday school.

“My father was the best”

Son Reginald said, “He was a faithful Christian and a good father who worked two or three jobs to support his family. He made sure we had food, clothing and church. My father was the best. If I had proposed him as Father of the Decade, he would have won hands down several times over.

“He made sure Mom had all she needed, and he treated everybody equal, no matter what the situation was,” his son added. “He had an open-door policy and gave anybody the benefit of the doubt. If you needed a helping hand, he was the first to open the door to his home.”

We feel sure that faithful and deserving servant Johnnie Meeks found an open door and a big welcome waiting at his New Home.

Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email editor@qcitymetro.com.

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