Family gathered earlier this month to celebrate the 97th birthday of Earl Howard Meyer, a native of North Dakota who has lived a quiet life.

More than 20 family members gathered April 3 at Our House for Respite for the party.

His daughter Dawn Muscarello said her father shared many of his life stories throughout the years, including his days learning in a one-room schoolhouse and riding his horse Powder to school each day.

In 1928, the family moved to a farm in Iowa, where they grew potatoes and corn and raised cattle, horses and pigs to survive through the Great Depression, Muscarello said in an email.

Meyer was interested in music as a child, taking piano and saxophone lessons in the seventh-grade and playing in the school band.

He graduated as class valedictorian and attended the University of Iowa. During college, he studied civil and hydraulic engineering. He organized a band, Earl Howard and His Stepping Tones, and used the money from gigs to help pay for college. He also paid for college with a job at the University Water Plant.

After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the 361st Army Engineers Special Service Regiment.

He met his first wife, Betty Jo Hays, at the officers’ club in 1943. Later, his regiment was assigned, eventually serving as part of the Omaha Beach landing. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where his unit was awarded a Bronze Battle Star.

During his time in Europe, Meyer, was asked to form a marching band to entertain local troops. He assembled a 32-piece marching band from local units, many of which had pre-war experience in bands.

After the war, he served in the Army of Occupation, assigned to POW Camp New York in France.

He worked at several companies following his time in the Army, including the Hooker Electro-Chemical Co., Weyerhaeuser and the city of Tacoma, Washington.

While in Washington, he was president of DBM Mining Corporation.

His family later moved to Slidell after he started working with Boeing to plan NASA’s Mississippi test facility and helped with the renovation of the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans east.

He became widowed after 28 years of marriage, and in 1972, he married Theone Patsie Barr.

Other jobs took him to Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, Manila, Kenya, Bangkok, Thailand, Tanzania and Morocco.

He started a construction engineering firm, Meyer and Associates, but decided he was ready to retire, and did so in the late 1990s, settling in Slidell.

He was a member of the Slidell Symphony Orchestra, Pinewood Country Club, VFW Post 5495 and St. Mary Margaret Catholic Church.