John Meinert was known for many achievements, the greatest of which was his 50 years of marriage to his beloved wife, Joyce, and raising two daughters, whom he said were “improved versions of himself.” We mourn his passing at the great age of 96. John’s brilliance of mind, sheer force of will and spectacular energy powered his professional and charitable accomplishments, plus supplied his drive to be the kind of dad who would read you a story, pitch wiffle ball with the neighborhood kids, help with homework, stay awake until his daughters arrived home in high school, and eventually, check in on his grandchildren's endeavors.
Born in White Cloud, Michigan, on a kitchen table in his grandparents’ farmhouse, John began working as soon as physically able. Starting at age 12, John contributed financial support to his mother, baby twin sisters, and brother with a variety of jobs including ranch hand, grocery clerk, typesetter and clothing salesman, graduating high school at sixteen as valedictorian. He received a scholarship to the University of Michigan, served in the US Army from 1945-1946, then concluded his studies at Northwestern University in 1949, graduating with a Bachelor of Science and earning his C.P.A. Much to his surprise, he was drafted again and served as a Sergeant in the Army Reserves from 1955 – 1958. John’s notable professional accomplishments started in 1950 at premier clothing retailer Hart Schaffner & Marx (later Hartmarx Corporation), where he moved up the ranks over forty years to become Chairman of the Board. Every family travel plan included factory or store visits tucked in between visits to relatives, monuments, parks, and zoos. In 1990, John became Chairman Emeritus and started a new twenty-two-year career as a principal at J.H. Chapman Group LLC, a Chicago investment banking firm, retiring from there as Chairman in 2012 at the age of eighty-five. John also worked as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.
Beyond his responsibilities at work, John contributed his time to numerous endeavors and volunteer positions including the Evanston Hospital Board, Northwestern’s John Evans Club, the Better Business Bureau, the Duncan YMCA, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. John was President and later Chairman of the Clothing Manufacturer's Association of the USA from 1982 to 1990. He was a trustee of the Amalgamated Insurance Fund and the Rotary International Retirement Fund. John educated accounting students at Northwestern University and as a faculty member at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He additionally served with the Leadership Circle Advisory Council for Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and chaired the University of Illinois (Gies) business advisory council. In his accounting profession, John was President of the Illinois CPA Society, with two terms on the board of directors. He additionally served on numerous committees with the American Institute of CPAs, ultimately as their Vice President. He wrote a column in the Journal of Accountancy for many years and was a long-time member of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. He was President of RotaryOne International where he insistently advised on the worldwide inclusion of women, then moved to be a foundation trustee and assistant district governor, completing this service in 2000. He later served on the Chicago Council for Foreign Relations and Chicago Sister Cities International.
His activities accrued many accolades and honors for John, including the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for Distinguished Service at its Centennial in New York City in 1987, the Alumni Merit Award from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (1989), and the Public Service Award from the Illinois CPA Society (1996). Most meaningful to him was the recognition of his wide ranging civic work, which was honored by receiving the Chicago Humanitarian of the Year by the Five Hospital Foundation in 1995.
John was the most dependable and family focused person, engendering intense loyalty from others despite his demanding and driven nature. He believed in stewardship, knew the difference between need and want, and made sure you understood it, too. He taught that talent was a gift to be shared without reservation. John Meinert was a member of Community Presbyterian Church, The University Club of Chicago, and the Rolling Green Country Club, all in the Chicago area, until he moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he passed on December 30, 2023. He is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth (Scott) Tinsman, Bettendorf, Iowa, Pamela Martin, Glenview, Illinois; sisters, Arlene (Horst) Lichtenberger, Darlene (Tom) Rinehart, and Richard (Dorothy) Reynolds; plus 7 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and many loving nieces and nephews. He will be missed greatly. Godspeed and may he rest in peace. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley (Scott County, Iowa YMCA), Community Presbyterian Church in Mt. Prospect, or an organization of your choice. Visitation Saturday, January 13, 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Friedrichs Funeral Home, 320 W. Central Rd. (at Northwest Highway), Mt. Prospect, IL 60056. Funeral Procession will leave funeral home at 1:00 p.m. for interment at Wheeling Township Cemetery, Arlington Heights. Memorial Services at 2:00 p.m. at Community Presbyterian Church, 407 N. Main St., Mt. Prospect, IL 60056, with refreshments to follow. Funeral information, 847-255-7800 or www.friedrichsfh.com