Former MTHA President Rich Meyer Passes
Richard J. Meyer, a Thoroughbred owner and advocate for horsemen and backstretch workers in Maryland, passed away at Anne Arundel Medical Center June 20 after a brief illness. He was 81.
Meyer, who was raised in St. Louis, Mo., where he played soccer, basketball and football as a student, graduated from St. Louis University in 1963 and then moved to Maryland to work for the federal National Security Agency as a mathematician. His technical and management skills led him to the top echelons of the NSA.
Meyer, who accepted a leadership role, received the NSA Exceptional Civilian Service Award. After 30 years of service, he retired from the agency to work for Raytheon, a defense contractor. Five years later, he returned to the NSA for a few more years before going to work for Federal Data Systems, a position he held until his death.
A fan of Thoroughbred racing, Meyer in 1984 partnered with his first group of associates to purchase three racehorses. He discovered a new passion in researching bloodlines to aid in the purchase of horses at auction. He created a partnership called M. O. M. Stables, with Josephine Owens and then Timothy Keefe as his trainers.
“Richard was not only a friend I trained for, but a business partner,” Keefe said. “We owned horses together for many years, and he was a wonderful friend and a father figure. As far as the racing business, he let me know I could do what I needed to do. It was always about being in the best interest of the horse, be it racing them or deciding when to retire a horse.
“He loved pedigrees and nicks. We would go to sales and he would let me select horses but would always want me to look for a certain pedigree. He was also a breeder but on a small scale; we had two 3-year-olds that we bred (in partnership) and a couple of other horses. He enjoyed it.”
Meyer was a member of the MTHA Board of Directors and served as President before Keefe was elected in 2014. He was a force in establishing the MTHA Backstretch Pension Plan, which currently contributes $1 million a year to support those who work with horses on a daily basis, and facilitated on-site health fairs for the backstretch community.
Meyer also served as President of the Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Foundation, which provides financial assistance to those in need.
“Richard did most of his work on the benevolence side,” Keefe said. “He was very much involved in that. Not many people know about his influence in that regard. He would serve meals at the backstretch kitchen on Thanksgiving, and he would regularly watch his horses race from the backstretch. He loved that part of the business.”
Meyer is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Meyer; son Douglas Meyer; daughter Karen Schemmel; son-in-law Michael Schemmel; grandchildren Gregory Meyer, Abigail Schemmel, and William Schemmel; and sister Rosemary Sampson.
A celebration of life will be held Friday, July 7, from 4-7 p.m. at Barranco Severna Park Funeral Home & Cremation Care, 495 Ritchie Hwy in Severna Park, Md. A memorial mass will be held Saturday, July 8, at 10 a.m. in St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 689 Ritchie Hwy. in Severna Park. In lieu of flowers, consider a memorial contribution to Feeding America or the ASPCA.