Texas author and teacher dies at 83

Noted San Antonio novelist Leila Jaynes Meacham, 83, died September 19, 2021, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was the author of eight published novels with Texas connections, including several bestsellers, and was working on a ninth novel at the time of her passing.


After penning three romance novels in the 1980s, Ms. Meacham declared the book-writing process “not my calling.” But more than a decade later, she became bored with retirement and resumed work on a manuscript she previously had abandoned. That book, Roses, a Southern epic set in East Texas, hit the New York Times hardcover best-seller list in 2010 and stayed there for two months. Four more novels followed: Tumbleweeds (2012), the tale of an orphaned California girl sent to live in the Texas Panhandle; Somerset (2013), the prequel to Roses; Titans (2016), set at the start of Texas’s oil boom; and Dragonfly (2019), a novel about a World War II secret mission involving five young Americans, including a Texas athlete with German roots.


With these works, Leila Meacham became an inspiration to many older adults who wait until retirement, or years afterward, to take up writing. The fate of her unfinished novel, April Storm, had not yet been announced at the time of this writing.


She was born September 7, 1938, in Minden, Louisiana, but grew up in Texas. Ms. Meacham was a 1963 graduate of North Texas State University in Denton, where she majored in education. She taught high school English classes in Texas before retiring.


A visitation will be held Friday, October 1, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Sunset Funeral Home, 1701 Austin Highway, San Antonio, TX 78218. Funeral services will be at the same location, Saturday, October 2, at 12:30 p.m. Internment will follow at 2 p.m. at Sunset Memorial Park.