Coe: The birthplace of a lifelong commitment to serving others

Sally MeyersFor the past 33 years, Sally Fels Meyers ’64 has thrived as the children’s librarian for the Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo, Texas. She has been recognized multiple times for her immense contributions to making the library a diverse, welcoming and fun environment for children and their families. Her work building the library, however, is just one piece of a long and storied life dedicated to creating equality for others — and for Sally, an idealistic girl from Amana, Iowa, this lifelong commitment to equality started during her time at Coe College as she pursued a degree in Christian education. 

While attending Coe, Meyers heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak on campus in 1961. His words resonated with her. The year after, she visited Mississippi as part of the Coe Christian Council and was shocked when her group was asked to leave a Howard Johnson’s restaurant because one member was a Black woman. She’d seen “whites only” signs on the drinking fountains and was deeply hurt to see her friend treated so unjustly. Later, she took part in a service trip to Puerto Rico, where she witnessed impoverished communities in need of support. “I would not have had these experiences had I not been a Coe student and chosen to go on the service project trips,” said Meyers. “These experiences and images still influence what I do with my time and my resources.” 

In fact, those experiences impacted her so much that Meyers changed her career path. “Opportunities that were open to me at Coe prepared me to become a contributing citizen. Though I was focused on becoming a music teacher, my involvement with the Coe Christian Council, the Kappa Delta sorority, two years as dorm counselor and two service projects — one to Puerto Rico and one to Jackson, Mississippi — opened my mind and heart to many new notions as to where my life might lead,” said Meyers. 

Meyers followed this new passion for equality and service, and with the help of former Coe President Joseph McCabe, attended McCormack Theological Seminary in Chicago, where she earned a degree in social work. In 1966, she married Craig Meyers, a pastor who shared the same passion for equality and activism, and they moved to Indiana to serve their first church. "We adopted three children, two of them biracial. Then, when we moved to San Angelo, Texas in 1983, we found friends in the NAACP and African American churches which led to becoming active in community revitalization efforts and issues of justice and equality," Meyers recalled. 

The two Presbyterian churches the Meyers family served for over 40 years in San Angelo were among the most culturally diverse churches in West Texas. 

Her activity has not slowed down, either. She is a lifetime member of the NAACP and has served as a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee since 1990. In 1991, Sally accepted the position as children’s librarian for the Tom Green County Library System. 

“My love of books and prior experiences in teaching through the years allowed me to take this position to new levels, building an environment and a collection reflecting the cultures and ethnicities of all children and their families. Serving on Texas State Library Reading committees gave me the opportunity to make my beliefs evident in book selections and programming,” Meyers noted. “Again, this focus was a result of my experiences at Coe College.” 

Meyers’ time spent in the library hasn’t gone unnoticed. She’s a recipient of the Texas Library Association award for Library Project of the Year due to her incredible work renovating and revitalizing the Dunbar Library, which served the Black community of San Angelo during segregation. Meyers rebuilt the space into a multicultural collection of children’s and adult literature including civil rights history, and now offers workshops and tours within the space. In March 2023, Meyers also received the Remarkable Women Award from the Nexstar Network and, in November 2023, she earned Citizen of the Year from the Le Coterie Society. 

Reflecting on her time at Coe, Meyers said, “Relationships with Dr. Paul Ray and Alma Turechek, both music professors, were kind and understanding of a rather naive and inexperienced student. Being in their presence taught me the art of teaching with sensitivity, listening to people, reaching out to others, as well as voice and piano. I stayed in touch through cards and visits with Miss Turechek until she passed. Her support and love reached far beyond my college years.” 

When asked what advice she has for current students, Meyers kept it simple: “Have an open mind when pursuing your career, be honest to yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Be mindful and aware of who you are and those around you. Be willing to take risks for what you believe.” 

For Meyers, those risks have paid off — her impact on the Tom Green County Library System has created a legacy that will continue to educate and empower children for generations to come. 

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