The Bloomfield Hills resident, who enhanced many lives with his philanthropy, kindness and integrity, died on Oct. 5, 2020, at age 95.
Edward Meer was renowned for his generosity to the Detroit Jewish community, his exceptional business acumen and his unflagging devotion to his family. The Bloomfield Hills resident, who enhanced many lives with his philanthropy, kindness and integrity, died on Oct. 5, 2020, at age 95.
The son of immigrant parents Harry and Tillie, Ed was born in Detroit in 1925. He attended Central High School, where he met his first wife, Norma Jean. Soon after graduation, he was drafted into the Army and sent to the Pacific during WWII, and the two continued their courtship by mail for the next two-and-a-half years.
Finding himself in the thick of front-line combat, the 18-year-old’s wartime experiences made him grow up fast and realize what was important in life.
When he returned, Ed married Norma Jean and together they raised three sons. Over 52 years, they watched their family grow, happily welcoming daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
The phenomenal success story of Meer Dental Supply is a testament to Ed’s character and remarkable business skills. After the war, he joined his father’s small dental business in Detroit and built it up gradually through personal relationships and persistence. He held seminars for local dental students, advising them on setting up their offices and offering financing at favorable terms.
“If a young dentist wanted six chairs, Ed would tell him to start with two,” said Rabbi E.B. “Bunny” Freedman, who officiated the funeral. “He nurtured a whole generation, and when they expanded, they went to Ed.
“To sit with him at lunch was to study what it means to be a mensch.”
Ed’s instinct to be honest and helpful with customers resulted in Meer Dental Supply becoming the third largest dental supply company in the country.
After Norma Jean passed away, Ed eventually met and married Gloria. Together, they enjoyed traveling, theater and spending time with their blended family, which includes Gloria’s three sons, their wives and grandchildren.
A Generous Soul
As a philanthropist, Ed’s generosity was legendary. When two of his sons, Jeffrey and Robert, adopted an Orthodox lifestyle, Ed became interested in helping synagogues and schools. He funded many construction projects including a science lab at Yeshiva Beth Yehudah’s Beth Jacob School for Girls in Oak Park and gymnasiums at Farber Hebrew Day School and Yeshivas Darchei Torah in Southfield, and Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Detroit Lubavitch Cheder in Oak Park.
Impressed by the work of Yad Ezra kosher food pantry, Ed bought and helped redesign a building for the organization. He played an instrumental part in building Jewish Senior Life’s Norma Jean and Edward Meer Apartments in West Bloomfield. He provided funding to Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network for office space in the Orley Jewish Family Service building in West Bloomfield.
“There are not many people in this community that haven’t benefited from one of the organizations Ed supported,” said Freedman, who is also CEO and founding director of Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network.
One of Ed’s most transformational gifts was the Meer Family Friendship Center in West Bloomfield, home to Friendship Circle of Michigan. Executive Director Rabbi Levi Shemtov remembers the annual dinner in 1999, where he shared his dream of creating 5,000 square-foot facility to house the organization’s many programs, classes and activities.
After dinner, Ed approached Shemtov and said three words that would have a lasting impact on hundreds of children with special needs and their families, “I’ll do it.”
Ed Meer is survived by his wife, Gloria Meer; children, Reuven “Robert” and Shani Meer, Dr. Aaron “Jeffrey” and Phyllis Meer, Brian and Lisa Meer, Howard and Jill Labe, Robert and Mary Lou Labe, and Eric and Monica Labe; sister and brother-in-law, Norma and Herbert Handelsman; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his devoted caregiver, Elaine Johnson.
Ed was also the beloved husband of the late Norma Jean Meer; dear brother and brother-in-law of the late Marion and Arnold Wisper.
Interment was at Adat Shalom Memorial Park. Contributions may be made to Friendship Circle of Michigan, 6892 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield, MI 48322; Yad Ezra, 2850 W. 11 Mile Road, Berkley, MI 48072 or a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements by Hebrew Memorial Chapel.