John A. Myers, 80, professor who liked a good hike

John A. Myers was a chemical engineering professor.
John A. Myers was a chemical engineering professor.
Posted: July 02, 2012

John A. Myers seemed to enjoy a long walk.

During much of his 36-year teaching career at Villanova University, Dr. Myers walked the 2.7 miles to campus and the 2.7 miles back to his Wayne home, recalled his wife, Kay.

For several summers, she said, Dr. Myers took Boy Scouts from his Radnor troop to New Mexico, leading backpacking treks that lasted days.

On Tuesday, June 26, Dr. Myers, 80, who retired as a professor of chemical engineering at Villanova in 1999, died of bladder cancer at home.

"It was a five-mile trek each day that he generally made," his wife said, partly "to organize his thoughts for his lectures as he walked."

As a teenage Eagle Scout, she said, he had learned the value of a good hike.

Even when hospitalized for his cancer, she said, "he knew walking was the key thing" to help recovery.

"He figured out in the hospital how many times he had to do a circuit to make a mile" in walking along the corridors.

Born in Elk Point, S.D., Dr. Myers was an Air Force data-processing technician from 1950 to 1954.

Funded by the GI Bill, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1958 at the University of Kansas.

With a 1963 doctorate in that subject from the same university, he began his career in the chemical engineering department at Villanova.

He taught engineering design courses, his wife said, and discussed case studies of industrial accidents with his students to inform them about potential dangers in their future work.

As he neared retirement, his students chose him for the Rev. William F. Farrell Award, given to an engineering faculty member for "exemplary personal concern for students."

While at Villanova, he worked for 30 years - one day a week and during summers - as a part-time industrial consultant for the DuPont Co. His wife said he helped design equipment to eliminate a harmful chemical from refrigerators and air conditioners.

His interest in scouting started early.

While in high school in St. Joseph, Mo., Dr. Myers had earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

As an assistant scoutmaster in Radnor, he accompanied his troops during at least four summers to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M., for long backpacking hikes.

The treks covered six to 12 miles a day, his wife said. Twice, he and his scouts completed 100-mile hikes lasting about 10 days.

"John loved the outdoors dearly," his wife said.

"Very often our summer vacations were to one or another of the national parks."

When their children came along on cross-country drives, "he had them pitching tents along the way, had them doing some cooking."

In the 1990s, he returned to New Mexico to work on two archaeological digs sponsored by the Earthwatch Institute. But digging wasn't all he learned there.

A mask that he made in the style of Native American Hopis was part of a juried exhibition, "The Many Faces of Faith," at the Villanova University Art Gallery.

Besides his wife of 54 years, Dr. Myers is survived by sons John K., Joseph, and Michael; daughters Beth Procassini and Mary Canniff; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service was set for 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 6, at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 104 Louella Ave., Wayne.


Contact Walter F. Naedele

at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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