A former leader of Carmarthenshire Council who was reared on stories of the Great Strike and went on to join the Communist Party has died.
Gerald Meyler, of Llanelli, spent part of his early life in Gwaun Cae Gurwen where his mother’s family came from.
“His grandmother and uncles would tell stories about people being blacklisted and shunned because they didn’t support the miners,” said Mr Meyler’s son Stephe.
“It was a very formative part of his life.”
He added: “When he was a child he used to have a hammer and sickle on his lapels!”
Mr Meyler, an only child, was born in Llanelli in 1929 and attended Lakefield School before starting work as a teenager in the local steelworks.
After doing his national service with the RAF near Southampton, Mr Meyler returned home and began working at the Carmarthen Bay power station, which employed some 500 people at its peak.
He was a shop steward, chairman of the works committee – and also a member of the Communist Party.
Put off by the events surrounding the invasion of Czechoslavakia by Warsaw Pact forces in 1968, Mr Meyler switched political allegiance.
“He decided that if it (the Communist Party) was going to a reformist party he would join the Labour Party, which he did,” said Stephe.
Mr Meyler was elected as councillor for the former Dyfed County Council in 1985.
He became the inaugural leader of the newly-formed Carmarthenshire County Council in 1999, served as chairman in 2004-05 and was responsible for resurrecting the chairman’s annual charity banquet and ball, which raised a considerable amount of money for local charities.
Away from civic life, he married Marjorie Elaine Thomas, known as Elaine, in 1950. The couple had a daughter, Diana, before Stephe arrived six years later.
Mr Meyler also played prop forward for New Dock Stars RFC, Llanelli, and went on to gain a black belt in judo.
Stephe said his father was physically strong and a “political fighter” but also a gentle person who rarely used bad language.
“He was very interested in history and philosophy,” he said. “You could talk to him about most things. He had an inquiring mind.”
Mr Meyler, who was grandfather to Jonathan and Emma, great-grandfather to Nicole and Dylan, father-in-law to Peter and brother-in-law to Angela and the late Roy, had been looked after in a care home for a year before he died, aged 89. His wife died in 2017.
His funeral takes place on Friday, March 15, at Llanelli District Cemetery at 2pm, with a reception afterwards at Stradey Park Hotel.
“He will be greatly missed by family and friends,” said Stephe.