Archivist, missionary priest Robert Myers passes away at Techny

Father Robert Myers, 1917-2011

Myers,_Fr_Robert_for_webNoted archivist and missionary priest Robert M. Myers SVD died at Techny on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, at age 93. Father Myers’s foresight and expertise led to the preservation of important records about African-American history.
After establishing the Chicago Province Archives, Father Myers identified letters and other vital materials at the Society of the Divine Word’s Southern Province headquarters in Bay St. Louis. Miss.

These materials include handwritten letters from Saint Katharine Drexel to the Society of the Divine Word; correspondence from Saint Arnold Janssen; and records regarding the founding of St. Augustine, the first Roman Catholic seminary in North America to educate African-American men for the priesthood and religious life.

"Had Bob not taken measures to preserve and move these files, they would have been lost in Hurricane Katrina," said Father Raymond Lennon SVD, provincial superior of the Eastern Province from 1982 to 1985 and later provincial superior of the Chicago Province for two terms. "He loved history and devoted the utmost care in safeguarding the history of the Society of the Divine Word in North America."

In 2008, the Society of the Divine Word honored Father Myers by giving the archives his name. Today, the Robert M. Myers Archives holds thousands of documents, photographs, publications, artifacts and films that bring to life the 116-year-old history of the Divine Word Missionaries in North America.

A native of Sublette, Ill., and one of five siblings, Robert Myers was born to John and Bertha (nee Becker) Myers in 1917. The young Myers professed vows in 1943 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1949.

Early in his life as a priest, Father Myers taught at St. Mary Seminary in Techny and studied library science at Rosary College in River Forest, Ill. During the 1960s, he lived in St. Louis, Mo., and served as chaplain for the Holy Spirit Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the contemplative religious orders for women established by St. Arnold Janssen, the Society of the Divine Word’s founder.

His next assignment took him to New Hampton, Iowa’s St. Joseph Hospital, where he served as chaplain for three years. From 1971 to 1979, he put his archives skills to work as a as a librarian at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

Father Myers also served as a parish priest in Antigua and St. Kitts in the West Indies. While in the Caribbean, he began the collection that would later germinate into the Chicago Province Archives. In 1982, he returned to Techny.

Father Myers is survived by one brother, Daniel Myers. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the viewing will begin at 10 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. funeral Mass at the Techny Residence.

Memorial donations can be made in the name of Father Robert Myers in lieu of flowers. They may be made for the care of retired missionaries and sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

Return to Main Obituaries page