Dr. Donald James Meis


Long Time Sioux City Dentist Dies
Dr. Meis, 93 years of age, long-time Sioux City and Phoenix Dentist, 10625 W. Emerald Point, Sun City, Arizona, died peacefully at home in his sleep next to his loving wife, Nadine, on November 22, 2020.
Services will be held at a later date due to the pandemic.
Dr. Meis was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on October 27, 1927, the son of Dr. Lee F. Meis Sr. and Dorothy (Trexler) Meis. He spent most of his life as a Sioux City resident. He graduated from Central High School, attended Morningside College, and graduated from the State University of Iowa School of Dentistry in 1953. He served with the U.S. Army in Korea from 1946 to 1948.
Dr. Meis was a long time member of Blessed Sacrament Parish of Sioux City and served the parish in various capacities: Mass server, member of the children’s choir, an all-conference center of the grade school football team, charter member of the Men’s Retreat Group, usher, money counter, member of the Boy Scout Troup 100 Council, carpenter, handy-man, Religious Education teacher, founding Chairperson of the Religious Education Committee of the Parish, charter member and Secretary of the Parish Council, in which he organized the Spiritual Life Committee with its twenty-nine committees and served as its first Chairperson. He also organized the Development Office of the parish and served as its first Director.
Dr. Meis held many offices in the Holy Spirit Community, Opus Spiritus Sancti. He was the first lay-person in the United States to make a dedication to the Community of Apostolic Christians. He was Chairperson of the Sioux City group, organizer, charter member and Chairperson of the Mission Circle, organizer charter member and Chairperson of the Valley of the Sun Circle, and Midwest Regional Chairperson of the Community of Apostolic Christians, and member of the Regional Concilium. He served as long-time Treasurer of the Midwest Region CAC. He was also editor and publisher of the quarterly newsletter for the Opus Spiritus Sancti, called the “Midwest Region Electronic Newsletter,” sent to many countries on six continents. He was also past-member and Chairperson of the Third Order of St. Francis.
He also served as a member of the Boy Scout Council and as Cubmaster at the First Lutheran Church and as a member of the Boy Scout Council at Blessed Sacrament Parish, and as a member of the Hispanic Mission Committee at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, and as a charter member of the El Salvadoran Children’s Welfare Mission Committee.
He was a long-time friend and supporter of Briar Cliff (College at the time) University. He was a long-time member and Vice-President of the Board of Trustees, and he also served on the Briar Cliff College Council and various other college committees. The college named the Theresa Dee Meis Recital Hall in honor of his first wife.
He was also a member of the Board of Directors and Chairperson of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Catholic Charities in 1993. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the AID. Center, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. He was a member of the “Six Star” Council of the Knights of Columbus, a founding member of the Board of Directors of the 900 Club, member of the Board of Directors of the 500 Club, and Council Member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
He was a member of the board of Directors of the Ford Foundation sponsored, “A Study of Sioux City,” in the nineteen fifties, a member of the Board of Directors of the Sioux City Country Club, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Sioux City.
He was a charter member of the Holy Spirit Retirement Home Board of Directors and a member of the Sunrise Manor Retirement Home Board of Directors. He also served as Dental Consultant at both retirement homes.
He wrote book reviews for the Sioux City Journal, completed eight RAGBRAI’s and many other long-distance bicycle rides, traveled fourteen countries on five continents, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa.
He also was voted Treasurer of the Class of 1945 at Central High School, was member of the track team, active in plays, and as a senior, operated a radio program on the commercial station KTRI. He was also Chairperson of both the 25th and of the 40th reunions of the Class of 1945, Central High School.
He was a member of the American Dental Association and the Iowa State Dental Association. He was a past President of both the Northwest Iowa District Dental Association and the Sioux City Dental Society. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors of Blue Cross of Iowa Delta Dental Plan. He also represented the dental societies as a charter Council member of the Northwest Iowa Health Care Agency and as a charter Board member of the Iowa State Health Systems Agency.
He made dental missionary journeys to Third World countries, including two to Tanzania, East Africa, and two to the West Indies Island of Bequia. On these missions, he took extensive state-of-the-art dental equipment with him and presented it to the local health care members for their use and ownership. While there, he established dental treatment programs, trained local personnel in modern dental techniques and the maintenance of sophisticated dental equipment. His key focus was to prepare local health care personnel so that they could treat their people themselves. He established possibly the world’s first “Traveling Dental Team” with his son, Dr. John Meis, bringing the African dental personnel on a lengthy training mission to remote villages in Tanzania. He showed the Africans how to get dental care to the people unable to travel to dental clinics. In 1988 he was presented with the prestigious Service to Mankind Award by the Sioux City Sertoma Club. In 1993 he was presented the J. C. Penney Golden Rule Award.
Dr. Meis volunteered for many years as the prosthodontist at the St. Vincent de Paul Free Dental Clinic in the inner city of Phoenix, Arizona. He also brought Communion to a retirement home in Sun City, Arizona, and volunteered for many years in a St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen.
In 1951, in Denver, Dr. Meis married Theresa Jean Dee, daughter of Mr. Robert Hurst Dee and Theresa Conway Dee of Denver and Sioux City. Theresa Dee Meis died in 1981. Dr. Meis and Nadine Pokorny Shulenberger were married in 1988.
Survivors include his spouse Nadine E. Meis of Sun City, Arizona; Daughter Nancy Meis and her husband Paul Wenske, their daughter Alexis, her husband, Brenden Burdick, and granddaughters, Adya, Clara, and Bria; and their son Chris Wenske, all of Overland Park, Kansas; and daughter Dr. Constance Meis Robertson and her husband Bob Robertson of Overland Park, Kansas; two sons: Robert Meis and his wife Holly of Sioux City, IA and their sons Brian, his wife Heidi and their three children of S.D., and David of the Twin Cities, and daughters Lauren, of Denver, CO. and Kathleen of Milwaukee, WI.; and Dr. John Meis and his wife Kelly of Fountain Hills, AZ and their daughters Samantha Murphy and her husband Hank Murphy of Phoenix, and Stacy Rust of Englewood, CO.
Also surviving are a brother Dr.Paul Meis and his wife Marcia of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in addition to many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Also surviving are two step-daughters: Loline Johnson and her husband Dr. Ben Johnson of Des Moines; and Lita Shulenberger of Sioux City; and two step-sons: Nelson Shulenberger of Des Moines, and Jason Shulenberger and his wife Janet of Omaha.
Honorary pallbearers are all the people in his life who helped him in his many activities, who taught him, learned from him, were patient with him, prayed for him, loved him, and were loved in return.
Dr. Meis always maintained that he was the luckiest guy in the world and that he wouldn’t trade places with anyone (“except maybe you,” he would quip). Health difficulties slowed him a bit in his later years. But he was always grateful that God chose him to be His helper of people on earth, and his faith grew and grew as he was blessed with more and more callings.
Dr. Meis was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Lee F. Meis Sr. and Dorothy Trexler Meis, and by a brother, Dr. Lee F. Meis Jr. and his wife Maxine Meis Messenger, and by a son-in-law, Sam Page.
In place of flowers, please consider a donation to: The Saint Vincent De Paul Dental Clinic, P.O. Box 13600, Phoenix, AZ 85002.