"He was very unique," said his wife, the former Rebecca L. Cotterell. "He would work on the docks with laborers, and then golf with the Main Line high-society crowd. Billy didn't look at your background, your title. He lived in the present. He made everyone feel comfortable."
William H. Meyle III, a big fan of rock music who made friends on the golf links with some of its stars, a devoted family man and master of the barbecue grill, died Dec. 29 of complications of leukemia. He was 61 and lived in Mantua, N.J.
Billy's distinguished lineage on the docks goes back to 1895, when his great-grandfather Emil Meyle founded the Independent Pier Co., in Philadelphia.
The company was an important part of the city's waterfront commerce in the 19th and 20th centuries, employing multiple generations of port workers.
When Billy's father, William II, and his uncle Kenneth Meyle ran the company, they were such prominent local businessmen that they commanded their own table at Bookbinder's, near company headquarters at 3rd and Chestnut.
When the company changed hands in 1995, Billy crossed the river and joined Holt Dynamics. As director of the fruit operation, as well as his other chores of labor relations, customer relations, banking and other aspects of a big business operation, Billy was respected for his know-how.
He dealt with shippers from many parts of the world. He was known for his efficiency, honesty and his tireless work ethic. During fruit season, November through April, it was nothing for him to spend six or seven 10-to-12-hour days on the docks, making sure everything was done to his exacting standards.
"He never missed a day of work, unless it was for a family emergency," his wife said.
Billy was born and grew up in Newtown Square. He attended the Booth School, in Rosemont, and went on to Lycoming College. During the summers, he helped out on the piers, painting tugboats of the extensive fleet that his family's company operated to bring cargo ships to the piers for unloading.
After college, he joined the company full time and worked in executive positions for 25 years before crossing the river.
Billy became a fan of the Grateful Dead while attending the Booth School. He was not just a fan, he was a fanatical fan, becoming a "Deadhead" and following the group to as many as 200 concerts around the world.
While golfing at Pine Valley Golf Club, in Camden County, he found himself on the links with a number of musicians and musicians' managers who became his friends.
His wife said that she was amazed at the people she found in her husband's cellphone.
Billy was basically a homebody, she said.
"He was proud of his lawn," she said. "He was always out washing his car, or cooking on the grill. He was famous for his crab cakes. Whenever we visited people, Billy would do the cooking. He was always the life of the party.
"He was a special person. He was unlike anyone I ever met in my lifetime, and I've known a lot of people. I was very lucky that we had 12 years of marriage together."
Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Sally Schufreider; two sons, Harrison and Freddy Meyle; a sister, Colleen Chance; his mother, Isabel Meyle-Keller; and his former wife, Laurie Wood Meyle.
Services: Noon Friday at St. David's Episcopal Church, 763 S. Valley Forge Road, Wayne. Friends may call at 10 a.m.
Contributions may be made to Freddy Meyle Education Fund, c/o Lisa Kline, Holt Logistics Corp., S. King Street, Gloucester City NJ 08030.