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MEREDITH, ALSON A.

MEREDITH, ALSON A. (1891–1963). Alson A. Meredith, conservationist and city manager, one of five children of George and Aline (Carroll) Meredith, was born on January 24, 1891, on a farm in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana. After graduating from high school in Monroe, he attended Meridian Military Academy in Meridian, Mississippi. There he was stricken with malaria, and doctors advised him to move to the drier climate of Texas. Accordingly, in 1909 Meredith enrolled at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Two years later, while taking malaria treatments at Mineral Wells, he met Grace Bernice Haynes, whom he married on December 25, 1911. They had seven children. After completing his college education Meredith began working for the Gulf Refining Company (see GULF OIL CORPORATION) in Fort Worth. In 1916 he was transferred to Amarillo, where he became active in the local Rotary Club and was involved with Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs. He was also a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the West Texas Chamber of Commerce. Meredith moved to Plainview in 1931 and returned to Amarillo a few years later to take charge of the Potter County relief program. In 1935 he was appointed area director for the Works Progress Administration (see WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION), which helped pave streets and construct sidewalks, tennis courts, and a grandstand in Amarillo. Some $400,000 in federal funds that Meredith obtained went to support building projects at West Texas State College (now West Texas A&M University) and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon.

In 1941 Meredith moved to Borger and was elected city manager. In that position he engineered tax-reform measures to curb financial instability brought on by the Great Depression. Under his leadership thirty-six miles of Borger's streets were paved, Main Street was widened, and a water system and sewerage plant were installed. As early as 1926 Meredith saw the need for a dam and reservoir on the Canadian River to furnish water for the Panhandle and South Plains areas. He promoted the project in numerous speeches and was foremost among the organizers of the Canadian River Water Users Association on June 17, 1949. In August 1952 he resigned as Borger city manager to devote himself full time to the association as its executive secretary. As part of his promotion campaign he published pamphlets, held meetings, and lobbied in both Austin and Washington. In addition he coproduced a color documentary film, entitled Water: Our Greatest Natural Resource, that showed how a dam would benefit area agriculture, industry, and recreation. His efforts came to fruition with the state legislature's approval in 1953 of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority. Meredith was a member of the Texas Water Conservation Association and the National Reclamation Association. Governor Marion Price Daniel, Sr., appointed him a delegate to the forty-fourth annual National Rivers and Harbors Congress at Washington in 1957.

After the death of his wife on December 22, 1949, Meredith remained a widower until April 18, 1954, when he married Mrs. Foy Cannady Stewart, a widow from Floydada, who had three children by her first marriage. For his work in soil and water conservation Meredith was given the sixteenth annual Save the Soil and Save Texas Award. For his work as a civic leader he was named Borger's Man of the Year in 1950, Citizen of the Year by the Borger Kiwanis Club in February 1961, and the Borger Altrusa Club's Outstanding Citizen the following year. At a special ceremony on July 1, 1962, Meredith and United States Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall officially opened construction of the new Sanford Dam on the Canadian River. The next March, Meredith received the nation's highest conservation award from the United States Department of the Interior, but he did not live to see the reservoir project completed. He died of cancer on April 13, 1963, and was interred in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo. By request of the Borger city commission and the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority board, Congress named the reservoir formed by the dam Lake Meredith.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Amarillo Sunday News-Globe, April 14, 1963. Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "MEREDITH, ALSON A.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fme45), accessed December 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 23, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.