Former Junction mayor, businessman remembered as a ‘great negotiator’
When he wasn’t crafting city happenings or plotting his next move in the furniture business, Ray Meacham and those around him were having fun, friends and family said Friday.
W.R. Bray, 82, of Grand Junction, remembers a trip he took with Meacham to Montrose during his longtime friend’s decade of public service with the city of Grand Junction in the 1950s and 1960s.
Bray and Meacham had just sat down for drinks at Montrose’s Red Barn Lounge, when they were approached by a police officer.
The officer arrested Meacham, then turned him loose about 10 minutes later.
“Just a mayoral joke between Montrose and Grand Junction,” Bray said with a laugh Friday, remembering his late friend. “I don’t think Ray had an enemy in the world.”
Meacham, 91, died Thursday afternoon surrounded by family at his Grand Junction home.
“That was his one request,” said Dr. Steve Meacham, Ray’s son.
Ray Meacham served on the Grand Junction City Council between 1951 and 1959, which was followed by a mayoral term between 1965 and 1967.
Meachman also founded American Furniture, since relocated to 865 North Ave., and served as president of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce between 1974 and 1977.
Steve Meacham on Friday said his father was perhaps most proud of his role in Operation Foresight, the 1960s initiative that eventually shaped Main Street into its snaking configuration.
“He was just a great negotiator and had the ability to put things together,” Steve Meacham said.
Ray Meacham also essentially controlled happenings at one downtown Grand Junction intersection.
In 1951, he founded Empire Furniture, formerly at the southeast corner of Third and Main streets, at the same time he was operating American Furniture at the southwest
In 1965, American Furniture moved to the intersection’s northeast corner.
The business moved to its present location in 1994.
“He was a tough businessman who expected a lot from his employees, and he pretty much got it,” said Mike Bennett, now president of American Furniture.
Steve Meacham said his father was forced to move out of his home as a teenager, working full-time before graduating high school and putting himself through two years of college at Southern Idaho University.
“He was young, industrious and knew how to handle people and make things work,” Steve Meacham said.
“He’s always been that way.”
A memorial service is planned Aug. 29 in Grand Junction. Meacham’s family said more details will be announced at a later date.