Old Cahawba advocate, Meador, dies

Published 9:59pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

Daniel John Meador, a former dean of the University of Alabama Law School and lover and advocate of Old Cahawba park passed away Saturday at the age of 86.

Meador, who was born in Selma, left a legacy in many different places with different people. In Greenville, where he grew up, friends and family will miss him. In Charlottesville, Va., where he passed away, he will be remembered as a retired law professor at the University of Virginia. Meador will be missed by those who studied under him at UA’s Law School from 1966 to 1970 and those who studied with him at the Citadel, Auburn University and Harvard in 1954.

But in Selma Meador will leave a legacy for his contributions to Old Cahawba after he started the Cahaba Foundation in 2008.

“He was our knight in shining armor,” Linda Derry, park director for Old Cahawba said of Meador after returning from his funeral. “He has meant everything to us. He is such a great man. I can’t put into words how much he has done for Cahawba. It all started when he was a little boy and he was riding his pony named Nancy around Cahawba and he got to know the place and he grew to love it. So as a very small child he developed that attachment and then in his later years in his 80’s, he came back to his roots again and he put his own finances and reputation on the line to bring people together for Cahawba.”

Derry said when she first started at Old Cahawba they barely owned any land, but with a sizeable donation from Meador, they were able to purchase hundreds of acres to incorporate as part of the park.

Meador was the son of Mabel Kirkpatrick, of Cahawba, and she attended the charter class of Tremont Street High School. Meador as a child lived on Gary Street in the Ice House District.

“I grew up just loving him to death because he had such an infectious laugh and he just had a huge zest for life and that’s the legacy he leaves for me — I know he had lots of accomplishments and I so admire him for those — but for me it was the fact that he lived life fully while he was living,” said Vaughan Johnson, Meador’s cousin and resident of Selma. “Even when he lost his eyesight in the mid-70s, which was devastating, he never missed a beat. When you were with him you almost forgot that he couldn’t see.”

And others from Selma said they were amazed too by his ability to triumph over blindness.

“I was in his first law school class, the class of 1966,” Ralph Hobbs, Selma attorney and board president of the Cahaba Foundation, said. “He was just a remarkable person, a very accomplished motivator of people and an identifier of people who could do what needed to be done and getting them to do it. He will really be missed.”

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