Bill Meirink, whose inspiring battle with cancer was highlighted in a Belleville News-Democrat feature story last July about him throwing out the first pitch at a St. Louis Cardinals game, died on Saturday.
The Swansea resident and avid Cardinals and St. Louis Blues fan was 54. Meirink had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer in 2013.
He was chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the July 5 Cardinals game as part of Siteman Center Cancer Awareness Night at Busch Stadium.
Being selected to throw out the first pitch was an honor for Meirink, who accepted the assignment seriously.
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“I’m going to think about all the people I’ve met through this journey,” he said in the feature story. “All the ones who struggle and go and get that treatment. Cancer’s a tough thing, it’s extremely tough mentally besides being physically tough, too.
“I’m going to think of all the people I’ve met through this thing, including the doctors and nurses. The support system that I’ve had through this whole thing is just off the charts, family and friends and everyone else. I’ve been blessed.”
Meirink’s family, including wife, Anne Meirink, was present at the game along with more than 120 other family members and friends. Nearly all had purchased tickets because they knew Bill Meirink was being honored and throwing out the first pitch.
Meirink’s children include Erin, Emily, Andy, Adam, Evan and his youngest daughter, 14-year-old Abbey.
Visitation is 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 9 to 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Belleville. A funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, also at Queen of Peace.