Borrego Springs Chamber & Visitor's Bureau

Judy Winter Meier
Borrego Sun Newspaper
Judy Winter Meier
Mother, Editor and True Borregan
1950 - 2011

Memorial Service

Time:   Saturday, December 10 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Location:  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Campfire Program Area, at the base of Palm Canyon
Directions: To get to the park if you arriving via S22 take a left on Palm Canyon Dr. and follow the road until lit ends in the parking lot.
The family is having a memorial service for their dear mother and a true Borregan, Judy Winter Meier, on the 10th of December 2011 at 3:00.   Parking will be in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's Visitor Center Parking lot. Handicapped parking will be available at the Palm Canyon trail head. PLEASE arrive at the visitor center parking lot around 2:00, in order to ensure everyone arrives in time for a 3:00 start. A large turnout is expected. It may be chilly, so warm clothes and blankets are suggested.

Donations:   may be made to the Borrego Springs Bank for the Judy Winter Meier Memorial Fund, in lieu of flowers.

If you wish to share fond memories of Judy, posting on the Wall of the Facebook Memorial Page would be a great place to do so. The family thanks everyone so much for your help and your warm wishes!

Any updates will be posted on the Facebook Page as well as put into the Borrego Sun.

Official Obituary

Meier, Judy Winter, 61, passed away Sunday, October 9, 2011, in Borrego Springs, CA. Born Judy Ann Winter in Hoisington, Kansas, she was raised in Wichita and was a Kansan until moving to Borrego Springs in the 1970’s. Judy was the editor of the Borrego Sun for more than 2 decades, and was dedicated to the newspaper and the desert community she loved. She is survived by her son Travis (Britany) Meier and daughter Whitney Meier, all of Redlands, CA, mother Martha Ann Winter of Wichita, KS, and brothers Chris Winter of San Francisco, CA, Rex (Nan) Winter of Chaska, MN, and Rick Winter of Flower Mound, TX. She was preceded in death by her father, Harold R Winter, Sr. Private family service to be held followed by burial at White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Wichita. 
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the Judy Winter Meier Fund at the Borrego Springs Bank, PO Box 866, Borrego Springs, CA 92004.

source:  Downing & Lahey Mortuary

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

BORREGO SPRINGS — The voice of Borrego Springs has died, the apparent victim of a murder-suicide at the hands of her estranged husband, and the small, unincorporated desert community is reeling.

Judy Winter Meier, 61, the longtime editor of the Borrego Sun and probably the best-known person in Borrego Springs, was found dead in the kitchen of her house on Saint Thomas Drive shortly after 6 p.m. Monday night.

Her husband, Jim Meier, 59, was also found dead, lying on the couch in the living room. Sheriff’s homicide investigators have not released further information about the investigation, however, they said there are no outstanding suspects.

The couple had been married for 37 years, but Judy Meier filed for divorce in May, according to court documents.

"She was the editor of the Borrego Sun and that’s the voice for our community. In that respect she was the voice of our community," said longtime friend Betsy Knaak.

Sheriff’s deputies made the discoveries after a newspaper employee asked that they check on Meier, who had failed to show up for work all day.

Meier had been the editor of the small, twice-monthly newspaper for more than 20 years and an employee for more than 30 years.

She had covered thousands of meetings and wrote many Page-2 columns for the newspaper, which had a professional feel to it more so than many small papers. The Copley Press Inc., former owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune, sold the Borrego Sun in 2009. The new owner, Patrick Meehan, was in England when he heard the news and was flying to Borrego, where he lives part time.

News of what had happened circulated quickly in the town of about 3,000 residents.

Everybody expressed shock. Murder is rare in the community. Ironically, Meier was to be honored in a couple of weeks at a San Diego Press Club awards ceremony for a story she worked on about a murder earlier this year — the first homicide in Borrego Springs in at least a decade.

"I’d say she was probably the most well-known person in town," said Borrego Springs resident and sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Medina. "She’s going to be missed."

"I can’t think of anybody that didn’t know her," said the newspaper’s office assistant, Angela Juhl. "She was involved in everything about this town for 30 years."

Juhl said Monday was a printing deadline day. When Meier didn’t show up or call, the three employees knew something was wrong.

"We knew it was bad," she said. "The only reason she didn’t call, we all knew, was because she couldn’t."

Meier was praised Tuesday for her professionalism and her ability to do quality journalism in a town where everybody knows everybody else.

"She cared very much for this community," said Knaak, the executive director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.

"In her years as editor of the Sun she was very respectful of the private lives of Borregans in that we live in a small town. She was always respectful. She was terrific and has been a very good and loyal friend."

Jim Meier, by many accounts, was troubled.

A former park ranger at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Jim Meier was allowed to retire in the late 1990s rather than be fired due partly to anger issues, said former park Superintendent Mark Jorgensen.

"There was always the kind of thought that maybe he would one day go to the dark side," Jorgensen said. "There was always the subliminal thought that maybe here is a person that shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun and a badge."

Jorgensen said Jim Meier seemed to have somewhat of a split personality.

"There were times he was very jovial and outgoing and funny — fun to be around. And then there were times when he would come in with a definite chip on his shoulder. … He just wasn’t that steady."

The couple have two grown children, a son and daughter.

"I know she was a very good mother," Juhl said. "Her children just loved her." Jorgensen said Meier "was a wonderful person, very professional. … I would say as far as life with Jim, she was very patient most of the time."

Maris Brancheau was a reporter at the Sun for nine years until leaving in June to pursue a law degree.

She said Meier was dedicated to the newspaper and to the town and tried to inform her readers fairly and with integrity.

"She was there for me just like a mom," Brancheau said. "She always made me cake on my birthday and made me look forward to coming to work every day."

Meier tried to get help for her husband who had "mental issues," Brancheau said.

"It’s senseless that she should be taken away from all the people that love her. She left a legacy of work and friendship and love."

Written by J Harry Jones 

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

I never met Judy Winter Meier, the editor of the biweekly Borrego Sun, but she was a sister in ink-stained arms, and I won’t let her death pass unremarked.

The hard-news headline is that Meier, 61, died in terrible circumstances, but the deck head should reflect what an outsize role journalists play in out-of-the-way towns.

The truth is, if you injected truth serum into daily metropolitan journalists, a significant percentage would confess a romantic desire to flee the big city and devote their lives to running a weekly that little towns cannot well survive without.

Yes, many of us long to return to the old school, churning out copy on manual typewriters, as Meier reportedly did. Many of us would love to edit a newspaper that doesn’t ring its own death knell by giving its hard-won news away for free on the Internet.

For small-town editors, the money’s not great. The hours punishing. But nondaily journalists are as fundamental to the community as the deputy on the beat, the doctor at the clinic, the teacher in the school. They’re pillars that can lean to the right or the left but, every week or two weeks or month, they hold up their end of a time-honored civic bargain.

A remote town without its own newspaper is missing a vital strand of DNA. In a sense, newspapers are more essential out there in the hinterland than they are in a metropolis where the competition for advertising dollars is intense among metastasizing media outlets.

Meier’s credo, according to the Los Angeles Times, was as old school as hot type and a green eyeshade: "Get your facts, get ‘em quick and get ‘em accurate."

By all accounts, Meier played it down the journalistic middle during her long tenure as Sun editor, a position that gave her personal power among neighbors, a power she handled with care.

Meier "was very respectful of the private lives of Borregans in that we live in a small town," said Betsy Knaak, director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Museum.

The Sun under Meier’s leadership wasn’t a desert muckraker hot to kick up sandstorms. Not the Sun’s style. But neither was it a shameless Chamber of Commerce-style booster that avoided bad news.

In the Sun’s Sept. 29 edition, the banner headline reads: "Principal Iglesias resigns; school starts recruiting process."

An inside story with photograph of boys in canoes leads: "Boy Scouts from Troop 696 of Borrego Springs received rank and merit badges at a court of honor ceremony Sept. 10 at Mataguay Scout Ranch near Lake Henshaw."

In the "Crimewatch" section, an identified local woman was sentenced to three years’ probation and a year of home detention after pleading guilty to collecting her father’s Social Security and pension checks for nine years after this death.

In their own ways, each of these stories are indispensable "Hey, Marthas" in Borrego — but no place else.

No question, some weeklies can be as eccentric as the towns they serve. They can be the butts of jokes.

Annie Proulx’s "The Shipping News" is a fictional case in point. Here’s a risible snippet of dialogue as an old hand, Billy, schools a new reporter in the art of small-town journalism. The two newspapermen are sitting in a car on the Newfoundland coast:

Billy: It’s finding the center of your story, the beating heart of it, that’s what makes a reporter. You have to start by making up some headlines. You know: short, punchy, dramatic headlines. Now, have a look (out the windshield), what do you see? Tell me the headline.

Quoyle: Horizon Fills With Dark Clouds?

Billy: Imminent Storm Threatens Village!

Quoyle: But what if no storm comes?

Billy: Village Spared From Deadly Storm.

Under the longtime ownership of the Copley Press — and, since 2009, Patrick Meehan, a part-time British resident — Meier reported the news as straight as a ramrod, wrote the headlines, edited the copy of a staff you could count on a hand lacking two fingers, typed editorials and columns about issues great and (usually) small, laid the pages out and no doubt delivered the newspaper if need be.

In short, she preserved a cultural institution in a league with the hospital or the library.

Recently, I was asked at an Escondido Rotary Club meeting about the future of newspapers.

My reflexive answer was that newspapers as we know them are an endangered species. It’s anyone’s guess when the last print newspaper will be sold.

It could be 10 or 20 years. We just don’t know how long it will take for the centuries-long habit of newsprint to be completely eclipsed by newer, cheaper forms of news delivery.

No one can predict when that last newspaper will arrive on the porch or in the mailbox, but you can bet your iPad on this:

The last printed newspaper will look and read a lot more like the Borrego Sun than The New York Times.

Written by Logan Jenkins,  Oct 12,2011