Kurt Meyer. I met him almost 30 years ago in Guatemala when we were both young men. He heard about my dream for helping the rural poor in Guatemala through land ownership, and instantly responded with his heart. Over the years, he poured himself into the Agros cause in so many ways – as a board member and president of Fundación Agros in Guatemala, as a dreamer, friend, and encourager. And most of all, as one whose love of Jesus translated into loving the poor.
For many years Kurt ran a successful business growing and exporting bromeliads – plants that grow and thrive without roots in soil, such as orchids. His plants and flowers were of high enough quality to be in great demand in Europe. Not surprisingly, Kurt had an encyclopedic knowledge of flora of all kinds. On our many trips from Guatemala City to the Ixil Region to visit our Agros villages, Kurt would sometimes abruptly ask whoever the driver was to stop in the middle of nowhere. Then he would leap out of the car and go over to the side of the road, and excitedly show those of us who followed him out of the car some rare or not so rare variety of bromeliad or other plant, give us its Latin genus name, and tell us all about its scientific classification and related orders. Every trip with Kurt was a learning experience – not just about his beloved world of plants, but about life as well.
He was a sophisticated man with elegant manners. He spoke Spanish, German, and English with equal fluency. He and I shared a deep love for classical music, and every so often he would ask me to bring with me on one of my trips a particular recording he could not find in Guatemala. These were, of course, pre-Amazon.com days. He also had his share of suffering in life. Along with thousands of others of German descent, he was deported from his native Guatemala during World War II. He did not like to talk about that experience. In more recent years, he lost his beloved wife to a sudden illness, and his only daughter in a tragic plane crash.
Kurt’s roots in agriculture helped us in so many ways as we built the Agros village model, and helped the people to become successful farmers. Early on, he dreamed of building a training center in the Ixil Region where Agros villagers and others could learn the best in methods and practices to enhance their production and their lives. He even drew sketches laying out what the center would look like, with training classrooms, living quarters for visitors, and demonstration plots. That dream was realized with the inauguration of the Agros Ixil Technology Center in Nebaj in 2007.
Kurt Meyer died early morning January 29, 2012, after suffering a series of strokes and heart attacks during recent months. He leaves behind three sons, Kurt, Dieter and Helmuth.