A local philanthropist who was Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Palm Springs Art Museum since 2006, passed away on Wednesday, January 21 at Eisenhower Medical Center.
Harold J. Meyerman was 76. He died due to complications from pneumonia, according to a release from the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet released the following statement about the passing of Myerman:
“The City of Palm Springs has lost an extraordinary leader. Harold Meyerman lifted the stature of the Palm Springs Art Museum to incredible heights and was the financial wizard that made our museum the spectacular destination it is today. On behalf of the citizens of Palm Springs, I want to thank him for his tireless philanthropic commitment not only to our art museum, but to countless other charitable organizations in Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. My
deepest sympathy to his lovely wife Dorothy and his entire family. Harold was one-of-a-kind and we will miss him tremendously.”
Meyerman was born in Deventer, Netherlands on September 3, 1938. His childhood memories from living in occupied Holland during the war left permanent impressions which stayed with him throughout his life.
Harold and his brother Gerald followed his parents to Vancouver, Canada, in 1957, where he started his banking career with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and became one of the youngest branch managers. He later enrolled at the University of British Columbia, where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce and Business Administration in 1967, and earned his law degree in 1970.
According to the release, Meyerman joined the Board of Trustees of Palm Springs Art Museum in 2003. After his initial observations, Meyerman drafted what came to be known as “The Meyerman Plan” which was adopted by the Board of Trustees, and implemented over a series of years. He worked tirelessly to improve the museum’s financial position, which helped make possible the expansion of the museum’s collections and geographic footprint, with the addition of both Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, The Galen and the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden, and Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion.
With his background in banking and finance, Meyerman actively supported and assisted the museum in raising endowment funds to ensure the success of the museum’s future. In 2014, as part of the 75th anniversary capital campaign, Harold and Dorothy Meyerman made a four million dollar pledge commitment to endow the position of Director of Development, which now bears their names.
Greg Polzin is the museum’s first Dorothy and Harold J. Meyerman Director of Development. At its 75th Anniversary Gala, Meyerman was honored for his unparalleled leadership and steadfast commitment to the museum.
Mrs. Faye Sarkowsky, Meyerman’s longtime personal friend and Palm Springs Art Museum Trustee said, “Harold was a trusted friend and valued leader, and will be missed by everyone at Palm Springs Art Museum. The positive impacts of his remarkable life and leadership will continue to be seen for many, many years to come.”
Among his many honors, Meyerman, and his wife Dorothy, were acknowledged for their philanthropic contributions to Palm Springs with a star placed in their honor on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on February 14, 2012.
Other career highlights of Meyerman include signing the first joint venture agreement to start a leasing company in China in 1985, and in 1991 he was the first CEO of an American bank to be invited to China after Tiananmen Square. In October 1991, with his wife Dorothy, Meyerman opened the Nanpu Bridge that connected Shanghai to Pudong, with financing for the project arranged through First Interstate Bank during his tenure as CEO.
Meyerman was a member of Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage, and was a previous member of The California Club, Los Angeles, The Valley Hunt Club, Pasadena, and The River Club, New York.
Meyerman is survived by his wife, Dorothy; brother Gerald and sister-in-law Vicky of Ridge, Maryland; nieces Claudia Meyerman of Vancouver, B.C., and Kimberly Meyerman of Kingston, Ontario; a nephew Nicolas Meyerman of Geneva, Switzerland and a niece Alexis Meyerman of St. Louis, MO; in addition to many extended family members in The Netherlands and United Kingdom.
A memorial has been scheduled for Sunday, February 1st at 1 p.m., at Annenberg Theater, Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. Seating is limited. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Palm Springs Art Museum.