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Clearwater veteran who took on Spirit Airlines dies after battle with cancer

Veteran Jerry Meekins sits outside the Spirit Airlines ticket counter in protest April 24 at Tampa International Airport.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Veteran Jerry Meekins sits outside the Spirit Airlines ticket counter in protest April 24 at Tampa International Airport.

Jerry Meekins, the terminally ill Clearwater man who made national news in April when Spirit Airlines denied him a refund even though he was too sick to fly, died Tuesday night after a two-year battle with esophageal cancer.

Spirit Airlines denied Meekins, a 76-year-old Vietnam veteran, a refund for his $197 plane ticket, even though his doctors had ordered him not to fly.

Meekins booked his ticket just a few days before his doctors told him there was nothing more they could do. He was trying to get to New Jersey to take care of his daughter, who needed help while she recovered from knee surgery.

"If they call it 'Spirit Airlines,' where is their spirit?" he asked at the time.

Spirit Airlines eventually did refund the ticket and promised to make a $5,000 donation in Meekins' name to his charity of choice, the Wounded Warrior Project.

"I'm glad that Spirit Airlines gave him something to be excited about at the end of his life," said Carol Gray, Meekins' girlfriend, "because I do believe it added probably a good month to the end of his life."

Clearwater veteran who took on Spirit Airlines dies after battle with cancer 07/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 9:09pm]
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