City of Meridian mourns the loss of their much-respected Mayor Johnnie Hauerland
Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names – Danish Proverb
A life well lived means different things for different people, but in general it represents a life being true to oneself, being proud of one’s accomplishments and achievement, development over time, good relationships and being well-loved.
When City of Meridian Mayor Johnnie E. Hauerland slipped away from this earthly life on July 24, 2021 of COVID-19, a life well lived sadly came to an end.
Hauerland (March 16, 1940-July 24, 2021) always did what he could, with what he had, where he was - whether it was requiring the best for his teachers and students or for the betterment of his hometown. And he always did it professionally, engagingly, with a firm handshake and a warm smile.
Hauerland and his wife Sharon made Meridian their home in 1990 when he was hired as Superintendent for the Meridian Independent School District. After a 39-year career in the field of education, he retired as Superintendent from Venus ISD in 2004. He is remembered for setting high expectations for students in academics, extra/curricular activities, and conduct.
He was a lifetime member of the Texas Teachers’ Association and after retirement kept in touch with the world of education through the Bosque County Retired Teachers Association, where he was a valued member.
Upon retirement, wanting to be more involved in the town he called home, Hauerland was appointed to the Meridian City Council in June 2006. He went on to become Major in July 2011. Code enforcement was important to him, because he wanted all the town properties to look neat and kept.
Through that he hoped to instill a sense of community pride in Meridian citizens. His main focus always remained to do what benefitted the town and its citizens, and he was very supportive of any initiatives taken by civic groups or citizens that improved the quality of life in Meridian.
Even in death, his support continued. In lieu flowers memorial donations were requested in his name to the Meridian Parks and Recreation Committee and the Meridian Lion's Club of which he was also a member.
“Mayor Johnny Hauerland was not just a supporter to the Meridian Parks and Recreation Board, he was very much involved,” Meridian Parks and Recreation Committee President Don Hatley said. “He attended every board meeting that he possibly could attend. He was a big part of our workshops and planning groups.
“He was totally committed to making Meridian better and he could see the value of the things being accomplished with the Parks and Recreation programs. His passing is a great loss to Meridian and its citizens. We have lost a strong supporter, but most of all a great friend and fellow man, who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”
Hauerland was very much engaged in the town’s organizations and made a point of being seen around town, at fundraisers and at different meetings, like the Meridian Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheons, the Meridian Economic Development Corporation and more recently the Meridian Parks and Recreation Committee meetings. He always had a kind word or friendly advice to offer, and always made a point of thanking people for their efforts. Many hours were also spent as a volunteer for the Meridian Manor Treasure Chest – a second-hand shop run by the Meridian Manor Auxiliary in aid of the senior residents of the facility.
“The Mayor was my friend and adviser,” MEDC President Ron Rieke said. “He had a way about him, when times were difficult, he would congratulate or thank us for our efforts and success. It would steel our resolve to continue to work for the betterment of Meridian. I am sorry for his family and the people of Meridian for their loss.”
Hauerland was a dedicated, very approachable Mayor. His informal approach could be seen in his love for Hawaii shirts and colorful plaids. And he was always open to listening to citizen concerns and comments, and addressing them immediately with his council and City employees. His primary goal was to find a suitable solution or compromise for all parties involved. And sometimes the decisions he and his councils made were not easy or popular, but in the end what was best for the town prevailed.
On Aug. 2, Meridian City Council will appoint a new Mayor who will be in office until elections in May 2022. The choice will probably be between present Mayor Pro-Tem Shawn Stauffer and Council Member Ryan Nieuwenhuis.
“Meridian GrassRoots lost a wonderful member, partner and friend with the passing of Johnny Hauerland recently,” .Paul Hardcastle said, speaking for Meridian GrassRoots Board and Members. “Johnny provided input and support for many ideas and projects Meridian GrassRoots has performed for the city of Meridian and its citizens. His support was invaluable. His leadership and presence will be sorely missed.
“Our condolences go out to Sharon and family and friends. We’re here to help or assist you any way we can. God Bless you Johnny Hauerland.”
His wife of 31 years, Sharon was by his side when he passed away after being on a ventilator at the Waco Ascension Providence Hospital Intensive Care Unit for two weeks. Hauerland had been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, but due to a recent battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma his immune system was compromised, which still made him susceptible to the viral infection.
We tip our hats to this life well lived by an upstanding, committed, much respected educator and civil servant. As we say our final, sad goodbyes, a Charles Dickens quote comes to mind, maybe giving some comfort in our mourning and loss:
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than anything I have ever done; It is a far, far, better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”
Rest in Peace, Johnnie Hauerland – a good man, whose name will be remembered with much fondness.
For those wanting to say one last goodbye, public viewing will be held from 9 a.m.. until 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 2, 2021 at Lawson Funeral Home in Meridian. Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, August 3, 2021 at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Sealy, Texas, the town where Hauerland was born.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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