Tale of a Philanthropist
"He was a giant. He could dominate a room with his presence, with his questions, intelligence and insights."
That was a quote from Rabbi Jonathan Stein talking about Gene Glick. Gene passed away on Oct. 2 in Indianapolis. He was 92 years old. He was a very successful developer whose book, "Born to Build," inspired anyone fortunate enough to read it. The book talks about Gene's life and how it was shaped by events.
Of the many moments in his life as a man of Jewish persuasion, one was especially profound. In 1945, as an American soldier, he and his fellow soldiers liberated Dachau, the huge concentration camp outside of Munich. When they arrived, the German guards had fled, and the Russians soldiers hadn't yet gotten there. Gene used his camera to record scenes of thousands of Jewish prisoners that serve as a permanent reminder of crimes against humanity. His pictures have been used in countless World War II documentaries.
When he came home from the war, he found his wife Marilyn and started a family. Gene and Marilyn then created the Gene B. Glick Co. This company is one of the largest privately owned builders and managers of low- and moderate-income housing in the United States. The Glicks established a lasting legacy by giving millions of dollars through their foundations to a wide spectrum of causes. In 2007, for example, they made a $30 million gift to the Indiana University School of Medicine to create the Glick Eye Institute, a clinical and research facility. Gene loved to quote Andrew Carnegie, who said, "Anyone who dies with a substantial estate dies in disgrace." Gene felt to whom much is given much is required. He and Marilyn took great pleasure in making intelligent giving decisions.
Now to the real point of my tale. The Gene Glick I met in the late 1980s was a wonderful man. He was very warm, charming and one of the most professional men I have ever met. He served on the board of the hospital where I worked in development. I learned very quickly that he held court almost every day at the cafeteria. When you were invited to lunch with him, you went directly to a certain table at 1:45 p.m., and every staff member knew his name. You placed your order, which he paid for, and sat down for at least a one-hour conversation
I would talk about our program needs, funding priorities and development services. Gene would politely tell me that while important, it did not fit his funding interests. The funny thing is, after several visits, he knew and I knew that I did not truly want to see him just to ask for funds. I loved being in his presence and learning about his life, dreams and ways I could make an impact by serving others.
Hundreds like me followed in this important ritual. He showed me that if you ask for funds you must be prepared and have a strong case for support that fits the grantor's mission and purpose.
He cared about you as a person regardless of social status. He sent several personal letters plus a signed book to me over the years. I know he created hundreds of personal letters to others in the community. He had a very strong value system. What I love about the development profession is that it is all about relationships and promoting philanthropy.
Gene and I love quotes. One of his favorites is, "One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank, nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child."
I know the world is better because of Gene Glick. I miss him already.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy.