Maynard and Deb Meyer have called Madison home for more than 40 years and have known each other much longer than that. They met in the 8th grade when Deb moved to Benson; they stayed close throughout high school and attended St. Cloud State University after graduation. Deb started out as an art major but quickly decided that it wasn’t the right path for her at the time. Meanwhile, Maynard was studying broadcast journalism, which would end up being the building blocks for a lifelong career and passion.
Life brought them to Colorado, but soon Deb and Maynard decided it was time to move back home to southwest Minnesota to raise their family. Maynard worked in Morris for a while, but he knew that Madison and the surrounding area needed a local radio station. So, he found a business partner and started Lac Qui Parle Broadcasting Co. nearly 40 years ago. “Madison had and still has its own little economy, but there wasn’t a radio station. Local news is important, and I knew that it would be a big asset to the area,” Maynard said.
While Maynard was starting his business, Deb was taking nursing classes in Willmar. “We had three kids, and we needed a second income while Maynard was starting up the radio station,” Deb said. She built a career caring for others as a nurse, and later graduated from Mankato State University with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. While Deb has always had an interest in crafting and painting, it wasn’t until she retired from nursing four years ago that she pursued her passion painting with watercolors.
“I started by taking classes on YouTube, and then I took an online class that focused on watercolor painting from an instructor in New York, and that is when I really began to develop my skills and style of painting,” Deb said.
Deb was first inspired to paint portraits that capture people’s emotions. She visited Sri Lanka for a month in 2005 after the tsunami and used photos from her trip to develop her skills while learning to paint with watercolors. “I had pictures from my trip that showed the beauty of people and their lives, even though they had experienced tragedy from a natural disaster. I wanted to capture that,” Deb said. Deb received an Individual Emerging Artist grant from Southwest Minnesota Arts Council in September 2020, which allowed her to grow her passion and finish the series.
She has continued to develop her own style and paints what she finds captivating about daily life, both in rural Minnesota and beyond. Her watercolor “Front Porch” was inspired by the Meyers’ home after a fresh coat of snow on a chilly winter day. We are proud to have it as the cover art for the 2023 Southwest Initiative Foundation holiday card. Deb’s art has been featured at The Smallest Art Gallery and Studio in Ortonville, the Madison Mercantile and as part of the award-winning Meander Art Crawl.
Although Maynard and Deb have been mainstays in Madison for decades, they aren’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. Maynard owns and works at the local movie theater, is the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, sits on the city council and serves as an advisory board member for the Madison Community Foundation. Maynard was one of the founding advisory board members of the local community foundation nearly 22 years ago. “Cynthia Huse lined up active community members, including Dick Newman from the baseball association. We decided to team up and do something good for the community. So, we fundraised for the local ball field because baseball is a big deal in Madison. The community foundation has made a lot of projects come to life since then,” Maynard said.
Deb spends her time painting, volunteering, being an active grandma and training the couple’s new Goldendoodle puppy, Sophie. She was recently awarded the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Madison Chamber of Commerce.
As they look forward to the future of Madison, Deb and Maynard feel optimistic. Deb noted that there is an excellent local healthcare system with care and facilities for all ages, and that young professionals and families are moving back to the area.
“Madison is a family-friendly community. I think that the community as a whole is working on being an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone to live and work,” Maynard said.
If you’re looking to make good things happen in your community, consider making a gift to your local community foundation or another fund that supports a specific cause you care about.