Get To Know Piedmont UU Church Members
Meredith first visited Piedmont UU Church in 2000 after she and her husband Don had moved into their new home close the church. She was amazed once she saw how accepting the members were to each other. She felt welcome and joined soon after. She said “I consider the members family, especially when I was diagnosed during my surgery for brain cancer and recvery. I think the church is doing well, with new members coming in. Our ministry, led by Rev. Amy Rio, has a bright future.”
Meredith graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1975, where she started her first Library Science job. She went to the University of Arizona to earn her master’s degree and then worked in Wyoming before moving to Charlotte to join the library staff at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). She published articles and was tenured as an Associate Professor in the Atkins Library. Her husband Don came to UNCC in 1997 and he and Meredith were married in 1999. In the same year Meredith took early retirement on disability for MS in 1999.
Meredith is both an artist and a writer. Over many years her art works (paintings, colleges and 3D assemblages) have been exhibited in numerous gallery shows. After undergoing surgery for astrocytoma five years ago, she published a book detailing her experience. “Astrocytoma: My Journey” was published in 2021 and received excellent reviews, including a five star Amazon rating.
One reviewer wrote:
I have read many books that chronicle individuals’ journeys with catastrophic disease. Universal themes are often expressed uniquely in individual stories. Meredith’s book “Astrocytoma: My Journey” is written in an unusual format of 80 small chapters, each one a vignette that is full and complete within itself. They are held together by the narrative of her journey through and into hell. then emergence. Each chapter in turn is a container for a multitude of losses as unexpected humor, profound poignancy, lack of hope and hope reborn, spiritually an ultimately – insight that also enriches the reader’s life. I was both deeply moved by her story as well as achingly jealous of the rich relationship she has with her husband, their combined courage, love and steadfastness in the face of devastation and the strong community ties that helped support her along the way. This book is truly a gem.
Another reviewer wrote:
Reading Meredith Joy M. is indeed a joy. We meet not only her many selves in this book, but also her cat, her husband, her friends and her many doctors, specialists and therapists. She sets each chapter as if here a scene, for she is an artist as well. In this book, or rather this incarnation, she becomes a painter of extraordinary inner imagination, using her artistic skills to craft a stunning canvas of the written (and bravely spoken) word.
Meredith’s husband Don is also a professional librarian and a published author. He grew up in southern rural Michigan, where he was raised in a UU church in a community still active today in the church built in 1881: The church’s website description feels very appropriate for Piedmont UU as well! “We are Unitarian Universalist, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist. Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, atheist, believers in God and more.”
Don first attended the California Institute of the Arts, and completed a BA (English & Linguistics) at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He then earned a Masters in Library / Information Science at the University of Michigan/ Ann Arbor. As a graduate student, his first collection of poems won top prize in the annual Hopwood Awards in 1977.
Don worked in public libraries for 15 years, and moonlighted, teaching the Evening Poetry Workshop at Duke University in the late 1980’s. In 1997 he was hired by UNCC as Associate Director of Atkins Library. That year he also started attending Piedmont UU off and on. In 2000 he became Director of Library Services (and a tenured professor) at Belmont Abbey College, where he still works, now mostly remotely.
He still writes poetry and feels fortunate to have an academic publisher at Wake Forest University, with his 5th collection recently released. The book is entitled: Hexagrams: A Poet’s Journey through the I Ching. Meredith provided the art for the book.
Don shared this about the book:
“Fifty years ago this spring, as a CalArts student (1972-73) I took a course with Marshall Ho’o, Professor of Oriental History. His tutorial on I Ching sparked my idea to craft 646-line poems shaped and inspired by the I Chin’s 64 hexagrams. Two year ago, after my previous four collections of poems had been published with multiple awards, I finally decided to take on this project.”
The book has now been published. Anyone interested can browse Don’s author page for book notices, published reviews, interviews, and podcast readings: donaldbeagle.carrd.co
— Anne L.