Dora Quinn Arney Meikle has spent her life working hard for others. She has played an instrumental part in creating the women’s sports programs in Missouri, specifically at College of the Ozarks.
Meikle was raised just north of Springfield on a dairy farm where she spent much of her childhood helping her parents and brothers with the cows and other duties around the farm.
“I hived bees, not many people can say that,” Meikle said. “I climbed up in that old pear tree and set the box down beneath me and cut that limb off, and it fell right in the box.”
She went to school at Greenwood Laboratory School at Missouri State University, and upon graduating at 17, she began college at Missouri State, then known as Southwest Missouri State University. In college she majored in health and physical education and art. Meikle said she had interest in architecture at the time; however, she was faced with limited opportunities and thus she followed in her mother’s foot steps and became a teacher.
After graduating in 1950, Meikle planned on moving to Texas to begin teaching, but after her boyfriend took a job in St. Charles, the two decided to get married and move together to St. Charles. Shortly after moving, she began her first teaching job.
“I started off my first day of teaching ringing bells every 15 minutes for short classes, and then they called me in. [The principal] came back and said ‘Oh I’m sorry, I thought you were a student.’”
Throughout the next years, Meikle and her husband moved around a lot, continuing to teach and coach at various colleges and K-12 schools. Her first college teaching position was at Lindenwood University.
Meikle was able to work alongside her husband at many of the schools she taught. He worked as a coach and well as a principal and superintendent while she taught and coached. Meikle credits her beginning in coaching to her first husband.
While juggling careers as teachers and coaches the couple raised two sons, David and Rex, who both still live in the Ozarks.
After her first husband’s passing, Meikle met and married her second husband, Dr. Meikle, the head of the speech and drama department at School of the Ozarks, now known as College of the Ozarks.
They also worked together in the education field after Meikle joined the faculty as a physical education professor and coach at the school in 1965.
At the college, Meikle taught health and physical education courses and worked as aquatic director. Shortly after being hired she also began working to form a women’s sports programs and helped the school develop its aquatic curriculum.
“At first I started synchronized swimming and then I figured they’d do better because they are hard workers, as C of O is a work school; so they know how to work. And so, they would just try their darnedest to beat their times and keep improving their times,” Meikle said. “So I thought ‘well, I’ll start a swim program’ and then I had the first intercollegiate swim meet in Missouri there.”
The hard work did not just include the sport, but, Meikle said the team also had to prove themselves to get funding from the school.
When putting together the swim program, Meikle was able to have in-depth involvement in the planning of the pool and the surrounding stadium. She explained that she was able to help design the bleachers that would hold visitors.
As time went on and the success of the women’s swim program grew, Meikle was able to start the women’s cross country and track programs as well. The beginning of these programs helped C of O hold the second track meet in Missouri.
Meikle recalled traveling the Midwest in a yellow bus with the teams because of the lack of women’s sports programs in the area.
During Meikle’s time at C of O, she also taught more than 20 hours of classes a week per semester, making for a very busy schedule. This included physical education and methods classes.
After years of working with both her students and her athletes, Meikle was able to pass on some of her coaching responsibilities to others. Though it was bittersweet to no longer be coaching all the women’s sports, Meikle said that it was also a relief to have more time to dedicate toward the programs and classes she was still involved with.
While at C of O, Meikle was given many opportunities to travel outside of the U.S. as well.
She was chosen to be a part of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance organization that went to Moscow in 1980. While there, the organization aimed to learn how Russia picked their athletes for the Olympics.
“We thought that was quite an honor,” Meikle said.
After this trip to Russia, Meikle was honored by being inducted into the C of O Hall of Fame for her work to build the women’s sports programs and her continued work as coach.
A couple years later, Meikle was nominated for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and was later inducted.
Throughout her life, Meikle has been fortunate enough to be able to travel all around the world. She has visited many of the Olympic stadiums and was even able to attend some of the Olympic games including games, hosted in Montreal in 1976, Los Angles in 1984, and Atlanta in 1996.
Traveling has been one of the great pleasures in Meikle’s life. Even after the passing of her second husband in 2000, she knew she wanted to continue seeing the world.
“I thought, ‘Where haven’t I been that I would like to go?’” Meikle said. Since, she has been able to travel with friends to Italy, Athens, and Brazil where she traveled on the Amazon River.
Through all the experiences Meikle has had in her life, the influence of sports is one that she credits most of her success. It makes you a better person to be in athletics.”
Due to the team and leadership skills that are built through sports, she believes that every person can benefit from participating in sports.