Cover photo for Charles Meredith Iii's Obituary
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1935 Charles 2020

Charles Meredith Iii

August 17, 1935 — December 11, 2020

Charles M. Meredith III, former owner and publisher of the Quakertown Free Press and lifelong civic leader in Bucks County, PA, died Friday in the beloved Quakertown home where he grew up. He was 85. Meredith followed both his father and grandfather into the publishing business, his grandfather having bought the newspaper in 1910. In its heyday, The Free Press was the main source of news in Quakertown, and Meredith believed that a small town paper shouldn't simply convey the news, but should also serve as the community's archivist, historian and cheerleader. It should promote the area and rally its citizens during difficult times, praise the community when things went well, and criticize it when they did not. In addition to publishing The Free Press, Meredith founded the Emmaus Free Press and the Indian Valley Echo. He served as president of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and was a director in the American Newspaper Publishers Association, relishing his position as a small fish in a very big pond, swimming alongside the likes of publishers Kay Graham of The Washington Post and Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger of The New York Times. Before he turned 30, he had been elected to the Bucks County Board of Commissioners, and was also Captain of the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary, America's oldest military unit. Founded in 1774, its men have served in every war since the American Revolution. Meredith was Master of Quakertown's Masonic Fraternity and president of the Quakertown Rotary Club. He served as Chairman of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, chairperson of the East Penn AAA, and was also on the board at Quakertown National Bank (now QNB Bank). A bon-vivant and renaissance man with an insatiable hunger for knowledge, Meredith never stopped reading or writing. He had a wicked sense of humor and delighted in stirring the pot, yet he was also a dedicated philanthropist who fought for Bucks County's open spaces and Land Trust. As Bucks County Commissioner, he spearheaded the project that would become Lake Nockamixon. Meredith's customary salutation was an exuberant "Huzzah!" and when asked how he was feeling - even after the stroke that would eventually kill him - he invariably answered, "I'm in the pink!" In his final years, he was a columnist for The Morning Call and the Bucks County Herald. When asked why he still wanted to write columns well into his 80s, he replied, "Because I am curious." That curiosity was the driving force behind everything Meredith did. Charles Montgomery Meredith III was born Aug. 17 in Reading, PA. His twin loves - politics and music - came to him naturally. His father Charles was a raconteur who taught his son how to command a room and tell a good story; his mother Ella was a gifted singer who passed her love of music and perfect pitch to her only child. After attending The Hill School, Meredith went to University of Pennsylvania, where he was a song and dance man in Mask and Wig, making television performances on Jack Paar, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan. He graduated with distinction from The Wharton School in 1957. Meredith met his future wife, Betsy, when a St. Anthony Hall fraternity brother suggested visiting the young woman who lay in traction at University of Pennsylvania Hospital after a car accident. Betsy was physically unable to chase Meredith from her room, as he proceeded to cartwheel, sing and dance for six hours trying to impress her. Evidently he wore her down. When Meredith introduced Betsy to his parents, his father pulled him aside and said, "Marry that girl as soon as possible!" Six months later, he did. Three children and 60 years of a vibrant partnership followed. Together with his wife, Meredith sang with the Berkshire Choral Institute, The Philadelphia Singers, the Philadelphia Orchestra's chorus, and the Lehigh Choral Union with Steven Sametz. They were members of the Richland Friends Meeting, and Meredith robustly played trombone with the Quakertown Band. Following quadruple bypass surgery in his mid 40s, Meredith took up rowing with the University Barge Club in Philadelphia. He became a great ambassador for the sport, teaching many young people how to row. He famously put more than 15,000 miles on his car in order to row 1,000 miles on the Schuylkill River. Meredith was predeceased by his wife in September. He is survived by daughters Anne and Catherine, a son Charles "Ty" IV, and grandchildren Grace and Charles "Quint" V. Shortly before he died, he wrote, quoting Isaiah 41:10: "Fear not, for I am with you." He continued, "Hopefully my life will have been spent helping others. Let us all help one another, and all of us leave the world in a better place than we found it. Do not follow. Lead."
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