Kathie Adams Meyer ’67: Finding joy in giving back

Kathie Adams Meyer ’67 came out of Cornell with a teaching job, but a job wasn’t her best outcome.

Kathie Adams Meyer '67 stands on the grounds of the Florida Mayo Clinic with her therapy dog Payton.
Kathie Adams Meyer ’67 stands on the grounds of the Florida Mayo Clinic with her therapy dog Payton.

“I went to Cornell for an education and to be able to do something with it upon graduation,” she says. “I did get both. However, the best thing I learned was how to think, and think independently.”

The college’s humanities requirements enriched her life by giving her “an appreciation for so many things I never would have gone near,” she says.

The careers she and Kendall Meyer ’65 enjoyed also enriched their lives, she says, because it allowed them to give back. And giving back, they discovered, was one of their greatest joys in life.

Kathie and her brother, Tom Adams ’63, were raised in a Chicago three flat occupied by three generations of family members. Her parents instilled a strong desire to attend college and the two siblings worked hard to save money. She met Kendall while living in Pfeiffer Hall, where he worked in the dining room, and they became good friends. Later, when he was attending University of Iowa Law School, he asked her for a date. She’d cook dinner for him at Rood House and they’d study in Cole Library together. 

After graduating from Cornell with a degree in elementary education, Kathie taught first grade for three years, then was a stay-at-home mom raising their two children in Chicago. She had cottage businesses along the way, including high-end catering. Later, she was invited to be the marketing director for a retirement community, eventually selling throughout the U.S., training employees, and styling the decor. 

Kathie accompanied and assisted Kendall and his partners on numerous international arbitration cases in the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague where one of his largest cases involved winning over $48 million for the expropriation of a client’s assets by the Iranian government. Kendall was a Cornell Trustee, and together he and Kathie established and endowed the Meyer Strength Training Facility within the Small Sport Center. She continues to support Cornell.

“I was married to a very interesting man,” she says. “He was extremely bright, he always wanted a new mountain to climb, and he taught me to climb the mountains. That, along with what I learned from Cornell, helped me after Kendall’s death.”

When Kendall died in 2012, her kids encouraged her to get a dog, and she did.

“I got Payton,” she says. “She was my lifesaver. She was and she still is.” 

Payton is a black-and-white Havanese named for Chicago Bears quarterback Walter Payton, whom she and Kendall admired for being a great athlete and human being. She quickly discovered Payton had just the right personality to be a therapy dog, so they got training. They’ve now logged seven years with Caring Canines at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. She co-chairs the program, which has 35 teams.

“It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Every day that I do anything with the dogs I just get so much joy from it. It’s silly to say, but it’s true,” she says. “I find great joy in giving back. Whether it’s time, talent, or money, all are important, and that’s where I get my happiness.”