Live the Life You've Imagined: Linda B. Meeks
March 25, 2014
Linda B. Meeks traces her interest in health and wellness to her childhood in Ohio. She was tutored at home for a year to keep strep and other bacteria from her older brother, who suffered from rheumatic fever. While she cherished the lessons, and the fact that her parents “voraciously read" to and with her, she envied the freedom other kids had to go to school and interact.
These experiences and her love of sports inspired her to pursue wellness professionally. “One has to be physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually fit to maximize performance,” she said.
In 1969, Linda joined Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology as an associate professor with a joint appointment in the College of Medicine. She and Philip Heit, an Ohio State colleague, formed Meeks Heit Publishing Company in 1991 to produce textbooks and multimedia materials for grades K-12 and college on wellness. Following the company’s acquisition by the Tribune Company in 1999, the partners have continued to collaborate as Meeks Heit Associates.
These days, Linda’s writing interests have expanded to include trade books on health, well-being and spirituality. Here, she shares about her career and strong ties to Ohio State.
How did your business partnership with Philip Heit come about?
I felt blessed when I was asked to join the Ohio State faculty. After a few years in my position, I helped to hire a faculty member and vividly remember Phil’s interview. He said he used a textbook I’d written. I also discovered that, like me, he was motivated to teach and write books on health—and to live the life he imagined. I’ve always liked Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” As deadline-oriented perfectionists, Phil and I became a team to co-author textbooks.
Why is customer service the hallmark of your business?
Customer service is the key to success for any business. When Phil and I wrote a professional textbook for our field, we called every professor who taught the course. We prepared a guide identifying exactly how we used the textbook in our classes, complete with lecture notes, assignments and activities. We followed up to see if we could help. We listened and learned. We did workshops in every state and in several countries to extend our service. Professors valued the personal contact and interest. I am loyal to people who care about the services they provide.
Why is collaboration important?
I believe collaboration empowers individuals to be more productive than they would be working alone. Because of my partnership with Phil, our textbooks are used in most areas of the U.S. and around the globe. I’ve traveled around the world and worked in different settings. While I value experiences as a visiting professor at other universities, I especially cherish my relationship with Ohio State.
Did you have mentors?
I am beyond grateful for the professional experiences God has blessed me with. I was asked to co-author my first book with John Burt, who’d written a leading textbook in the health field. This enhanced my credentials and visibility. At Ohio State, my mentors included Dr. Delbert Oberteuffer, the father of health education, and Edgar Dale, an expert on using words at age-appropriate levels.
What areas of Ohio State do you support and why?
With Jim Miller, a friend who works at Ohio State, I helped fund a partnership for the Fisher College of Business to offer training at the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) international conferences.Having owned and sold a publishing company, I am on the WPO’s board of directors, which offers members the opportunity to garner business expertise. A significant number of our members started their businesses because of passion for a purpose, even without a business background.
Jim Miller also developed the OSU Veterans Home in honor of his father, who was an Ohio State graduate and military veteran. Soon after the renovation began in 2011, I lost my uncle, a veteran. And my friend, Carol Gregory’s dad, Jack Stephenson, was a veteran, All-American and captain of the Ohio State 1941 football team. By donating the flagpole, flag and stone for the Veteran's Home, we honored the vets in our families.
When I started writing books, the William Oxley Thompson Library was my second home. I want students to feel that way about the library, so supporting the renovation was important. I love going to the top floor and watching students overlook the Oval while they study together.
In the College of Education and Human Ecology, I help support Simple Suppers, a program at the Schoenbaum Family Center that blends nutrition education and healthful cooking for parents and their preschool-aged children.
I give to the Brutus Buckeye Endowment Fund because Brutus embodies everything I love about Ohio State—spirit, scholarship, student life and service. Our Brutus and former Brutii provide amazing spirit and are committed to scholarship, succeeding in the classroom, participating in student life and providing service to the community. I believe throughout life an avid Buckeye is spirited, engages in scholarship, participates in fellowship and is a servant leader. I also serve on the Brutus Buckeye Advisory Board. And, finally, the Ohio Stadium Brick Program supports athletics and recognizes someone you designate. I’ve purchased bricks for my daughter, son-in-law, two grandsons and me. I’ve thanked Brutii and recognized friends by purchasing bricks for them.
What does being a President’s Club donor mean to you?
The President’s Club consists of people who are committed to Ohio State’s vision and ideals. I am delighted to be a donor, and I enjoy the fellowship of others in the President’s Club because I like to hear the reasons others give back and why they are passionate about Ohio State. I value my relationship with Ohio State and want to stay connected. I enthusiastically agreed to be on the But for Ohio State regional campaign committee for the west coast. When I worked overseas, I learned “how firm thy friendship O-H-I-O” is. Buckeyes—and many with no academic ties—connect to a deep heritage.