Doris Meyer recounts 28 years as Monett city clerk

Saturday, July 22, 2017
Doris Meyer, left, described her service as Monett city clerk for the Monett Historical Society at its July meeting. President Barbara Henson, right, introduced the speaker. Murray Bishoff/

Changing roles, personalities made interesting city hall career

Doris Meyer, who served as clerk for the City of Monett for 28 years, recounted her service for the Monett Historical Society at the organization's July meeting.

Meyer, a 1955 Verona High School graduate, began her professional career working for attorney Almon Maus. On light days she also helped out with tax returns at Jarvis Tax Service, also located in the First National Bank building. Meyer has her own tax preparation service today. She left the jobs when her daughter was born in 1959.

City Commissioner Albert McIntyre recruited her in the spring of 1963 to help City Clerk Pete Jarvis on a part-time basis. When Jerome died unexpectedly in April 1968, Meyer was appointed temporary clerk. On Dec. 1, 1968, the city council appointed her as the new clerk. McIntyre opposed the appointment because no woman had ever held the job, and took several years to be persuaded that a woman could handle those duties. Prior to Jerome, both the clerk and the city treasurer had been political appointments.

In that period, Meyer recalled the city hall also served as the home for the Monett library on the north side, and had an office for the Monett Chamber of Commerce. The building was erected in 1929 by contractor M.E. Gillioz for $50,000, which Meyer called the city's "best investment ever."

Meyer said she had always been proud of the commission form of government that only Monett and West Plains use, offering greater efficiency than what many towns experienced. Her duties as clerk involved preparing the budget and payroll, handling elections and occasionally helping to collect utility bills.

She helped the city to carefully follow the Sunshine Law, noting that other observers watching city practices and legalities included Monett Times publishers Kenneth Meuser and Dick Brady, and resident Earl Atwell, a frequent critic.

Meyer served under nine mayors and 12 council members. The year 1983 was an especially difficult one, when both city commissioners McIntyre and Warren Rauch died in office. Changes occurred over time, such as the introduction of computers. In 1994 the technology innovation offered a massive hiccup with the entire system crashed, forcing reentry of 6,400 property tax statements, Meyer recalled. She also noted that in the 1990s, Mayor H.C. Beckwith successfully raised the wages of city workers to comparable levels with industry.

"We were one big happy family," she said. "The people of Monett were my people."

Pete Rauch, who served as utility superintendent under Meyer, commented, "It's said that Dennis Pyle was the city city administrator. Doris was really the first administrator."

"I was pretty rough and tough," Meyer added.

Meyer was introduced by Barbara Henson, the new president of the Monett Historical Society, presiding at her first meeting.

The next meeting will at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 at the museum's education room at Fifth and Broadway. Gordon Brown will speak on early Monett recreation.

The museum is open fro 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings, and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.