Skip to Site Navigation | Skip to Content

Joseph Lewis Meibergen (Lew)

Joseph Lewis Meibergen (Lew)

Published on April 18, 2020

September 5, 1931 - April 16, 2020

Considered an Oklahoma Pioneer by many, Joseph ("Lew") Lewis Meibergen I passed away April 16, 2020, at the age of 88.

Lew was a great man, soldier, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, hunter, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who was born on Sept. 5, 1931, in Enid, Okla., to the late Mary Ester and Joe Meibergen.

Throughout his life, Lew greatly contributed to his community, his state and his family. His lists of accomplishments and accolades run too long for a 600-word obituary... his list of great-grandchildren does, too. This is what you can expect from a man as driven, tenacious and hardworking as Lew Meibergen, who refused to retire and continued going to work at the ripe age of 88.

A self-proclaimed country boy, Lew grew up raising livestock and working in his father's feed store before going on to graduate from Oklahoma A&M University in 1953. Before graduating, he married his first wife and mother of his children, Elizabeth ("Liz") Ann Puryear.

Lew served as a U.S. Army captain for two years in Germany, where his daughter was born, before returning to Oklahoma and managing his family's grain and seed company. Shortly after returning home from service, Lew and Liz welcomed their son. From 1963-1966, Lew was the secretary of Agriculture for Oklahoma and went on to spend 10 years in the banking industry, eventually becoming president of First National Bank in Enid.

In 1976, the call to return to his family's business compelled Lew to purchase controlling interest in W.B. Johnston Grain Company and Johnston Seed Company. Founded by his grandfather in 1893 and divested in 2014, W.B. Johnston's became the oldest and largest independent grain company in Oklahoma under Lew's helm. In 1983, wheat began piling up in Oklahoma after the railroad changed its rate structure, leaving few options for grain transport so Lew took matters into his own hands. After a meeting in OSU's student union, Lew left with a lease for a port facility east of Tulsa written on a paper napkin. River transport solved the shipping problems, and Johnston's Port 33 became the largest bulk-handling port in the state and one of four owned and operated by the company.

In 2000, after losing Liz to cancer, Lew reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Suzanne ("Suzie") Looper, and was married.

Having served on over 20 boards, associations and councils, Lew lived to help others and set an extraordinary example for his family and peers. He didn't do it for the recognition despite numerous awards; helping others was in his DNA. Lew was a kind, loving and generous man, and those who had the privilege of knowing him and getting past his tough exterior will tell you just that.

While his name will be remembered in history for his all his work, including pioneering soil farming, improving Oklahoma's highways and conserving its landscape, contributing to the salvation of the Arkansas River's shipping industry, funding six scholarships each year at OSU, being inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame or being named one of OSU's distinguished alumni, Lew will be remembered by his family as being a tough but kind, determined, smart and generous man with a childlike sense of humor, who taught his grandchildren how to make boobs at the dinner table with their napkins.

He will be sorely missed by his wife, Suzie Meibergen; sister, Kay Lee; children, J.L. ("Butch") Meibergen II and Mary Henneke; daughter-in-law, Margie Meibergen; son-in-law, Roger Henneke; grandchildren, J.L. ("Joey") Meibergen III, his wife Lezlie, Melissa Smith, her husband Daniel, Madeline Meibergen, Emily Wilke, her husband Erich, Matt Henneke, his wife Kalin; great-grandchildren: Lewy, Millie, Ellie, Cooper, Libby, Bennett, Weston, Miles, Lillian, Cohen and Wilke Baby #5; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

A celebration of life is pending. Services and cremation arrangements are under the direction of Henninger-Hinson Funeral Home. (580) 233-1700.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Matthew's Episcopal Church or the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid, with Henninger-Hinson Funeral Home acting as custodian of the funds.

Condolences and remembrances of Lew may be given to the family online at


No comments (Add your own)

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.