School of Rehabilitation Therapy remembers Bill Meyerman
Queen’s University is remembering Bill Meyerman, a dedicated, long time volunteer mentor for health sciences students. Bill lived with a spinal cord injury for over 50 years since he was hit by a car at age five. He spent his childhood and teenage years living in a rehabilitation facility in Toronto. After a career in social services, his occupation focused on raising his two daughters and assuming household responsibilities while his wife worked outside the home.
“I am very frank with students and tell them about what is important to me. Politically correct language and labels are not helpful. Call me crippled or handicapped - I don’t really care. The rehabilitation I received as a youngster was about basic life skills and how to manage in the world as it is. I appreciate professionals who are honest and direct with me. I know that their expertise is valuable, but I will make my own decisions. Give me information and treat me with respect. I know myself and my needs best…and just call me Bill!”
Bill was known and admired for his kindness, energy and determination to find the best solutions for himself, willingness to share his personal story and insights, predicting future career paths of his students, and being honest to a fault. He was always frank, having no patience for unnecessary protocols or self-pity. Bill’s courage and compassion were noteworthy as he maintained control over his own health choices and destiny to the very end of his life.
Bill was a mentor to students, volunteer patients and faculty in his many voluntary endeavours, including:
- 20 years as a mentor to Occupational Therapy students through The Lived Experience of Disability course (OT825)
- 18 years as a member of the OT825 Advisory Committee, reviewing all aspects of the course to update, refine and improve its content and delivery and to present the course concept at health sciences conferences
- Meeting with Japanese educators from Niigata University as part of sharing the Occupational Therapy curriculum at Queen’s (OT825)
- Host to an Occupational Therapy professor from the Singapore Institute of Technology as she planned a course based on OT825
- Patient representative on the Steering Committee for the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice (OIPEP)
- Panelist on the interprofessional education event Sport & Disability hosted by OIPEP – Bill won several medals in swimming at the national level and was involved in a National Film Board documentary when he traveled to the Caribbean with other young people with disabilities to learn how to scuba dive
- Mentor for interprofessional FHS student teams in the Collaboration in Action education initiative (OIPEP)
- Host to Japanese professors through the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (including hosting a lunch in his home with ICACBR staff and their international visitors)
While devoting significant time to health professional education as a volunteer mentor, with the aim of improving the health care system one student at a time, Bill was always focused on his family. He lives on in the hearts of his wife Kim and daughters Maya and Kylie. He is fondly remembered by his colleagues and friends, Debbie Docherty and Jeanette Parsons (co-mentors), Anne O’Riordan and Nicole Bobbette (Occupational Therapy Program faculty), the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and myriad students who have graduated from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University.
Anne O’Riordan, January 2021