John Isaac Meats
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John Isaac Meats
  • January 3, 1970 - March 1, 2017
  • Tampa, Florida

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John Isaac Meats, 47, of Tampa, died March 1, 2017, much beloved son, brother, uncle and friend. Survived by father Stephen Meats, mother Mary Beth Harris, step-mother Ann Meats, sister Lael Arango and brother Owen Meats. Preceded in death by step-father James Harris.

John was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When he was two, the family moved to Tampa where he lived most of his life, except for three years in Kansas as a child and several in the Boston area during and after college.

He early on showed precocious musical talents. At three he began learning violin through the Suzuki method. In grade school he became a member of the St. John's Episcopal Choir of Men and Boys. Gifted with a pure treble voice and near perfect pitch, he was often given solo parts. He sang the role of Amahl in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" at the age of ten in Pittsburg, Kansas, and had small roles in other school and community theater musicals there. During his childhood and youth, he learned piano and taught himself to play guitar and electric bass, and at Tampa Preparatory School organized and played in bands and in the school orchestra. Somewhat against his will, but out of respect for his mentors, he also took on singing roles in school musicals.

Gifted with intelligence and curiosity, John was an honor student who loved to learn. He made an indelible impression on teachers and classmates with his intellectual range and his ability to express ideas and questions. He was stimulated to dig deeply into subjects, themes and historical eras in which he had a particular interest, especially when he was able to make connections among them. He found math and science fascinating, and had a keen interest in ecology and conservation.

His love of literature began very early. The first poem he memorized was Blake's "The Tyger" at age four. Blake was always on his list of favorite poets, a long list that included Emily Dickinson, W. B Yeats, Dylan Thomas and Elizabeth Bishop among others. He often sent poems he loved to family and friends by email. He loved wordplay, including puns, and had written poems, both doggerel and serious, since childhood. Though he did not publish any of his writing after high school, he continued writing until fairly recently and left behind a considerable body of work that includes both poems and music.

Though he held a variety of jobs, there were two that both used his skills and honed them. For eight years, he worked as Art Director and graphic designer for a recording studio in Hyde Park. Later as the computer specialist for a company in North Tampa, he researched and developed the photography and artwork used to decorate restaurant chains across the country. In a nice coincidence, one of his projects was an Applebee's in the Kansas town where his father and step-mother lived. Just recently he showed his versatility by designing evocative, whimsical covers for two of his father's books.

For recreation, he took great pleasure in researching on the Internet?any subject that struck his fancy from meteorology to medical advances, from the daily growth of his embryonic nephew to swing sets for the growing child, from Alzheimer's to Zappa. He loved Film, but watched TV series and B-movies, too.

But he also loved the outdoors. A visit to Walden Pond when he was ten sparked a life-long admiration for Thoreau. He also loved lightning and sometimes would sit on the roof during thunderstorms. Some of his favorite places to camp, hike, birdwatch, and kayak with friends or family were Lettuce Lake Park, Boca Ciega Bay, Weedon Island Preserve, Hillsborough River State Park, nearly all the gulf beaches and parks, and the backyard garden of dear friends south of Gandy. A highlight of a recent birding trip to Weedon Island with his father was John's sighting of the reclusive green heron.

John's love and knowledge of music probably helped shape the tastes of many of his friends, though Lael might be the only one he ever shut up in his room to listen to Pink Floyd in an effort to wean her from the pop music she liked. Over the years, John took pleasure in watching Owen develop his musical talent and style, and was happy they could collaborate on several music projects together. Making music?even with old friends?became less frequent in the last few years, but he enjoyed listening to them play and recently had started listening again to classical and jazz favorites.

John was always patient and kind with the children of friends and family, and took particular pleasure in being a loving uncle to his nephew Jude. He often asked if Jude could come over to play, and he enjoyed spending time with him whether at home or exploring favorite places such as Ballast Point, Picnic Island and the Florida Aquarium.

John's life was marked by much joy, but also pain that he met with courage and patience and a heart filled with an unfailing love for those close to him. Finally, though, and far too soon, that great heart wore out. The memories and impressions so generously shared by those who knew John-kind and gentle-witty and clever-creative and free-thinking-intellectually generous-mysterious and mischievous?have given comfort to all of us who loved him and are still reeling from our great loss. We are very grateful.

Memorial contributions, any local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.