As many of you might already know, longtime Evergreen resident, Glen Gerlach, passed away in his home in the Greenwood area on April 3rd.
It’s possible that I have known Glen longer than any of his friends here in town because we worked together for a decade in California before either of us moved to Evergreen.
In 1968, Glen was the project manager who offered me a position as staff engineer at the defense contractor, Bunker-Ramo. As was common at the time, I had multiple competing job offers walking into the interview. I soon realized that nothing else mattered. I had to work for this man.
Glen was a natural born leader. He had a way about him that I suspect even he didn’t understand. You wanted to work for him. You wanted to earn his trust. You wanted to be his friend. For 10 years at Bunker-Ramo, he got the best out of me without ever barking orders or making demands.
I will always be grateful to Denise Stoner for getting me and Glen together for lunch last summer. She knew it was time. Growing old is so cruel. I will never get over seeing the shriveled old man that I remember as a 30-something mountain of a man. But it was so utterly comforting to find that what drew me to Glen some 55 years ago was still there. I asked him, “Glen, surely, after all these years, you can tell me if all of the top secret research we did for the Navy made a difference?” He replied with his trademark grin, “Can’t say.”
That was pure Glen. With grinning support, he was the master of not answering your questions as a way of encouraging you to find your own answers. In that way about him you knew that he knew you could.
Glen’s inherent ability to trust the team cultivated an atmosphere of loyalty to each other and to our leader. After years of research, the time came to prove our concept to the top Navy brass.
As was Glen’s leadership style, he simply mentioned that the Navy was providing us access to a live Cold War mission that included P3 anti-submarine aircraft, surface ships and submarines. Yikes! The pressure was on. We began working day and night to meet this challenge. Even though he was a manager and not a designer, he was there being Glen by helping us answer our own questions. As far as I know, our test was a success and may have helped the navy locate enemy submarines during the Cold War.
I moved to Evergreen in 1977. About a year later, Glen and Noreen came to visit. The short story is: They never left. As life would have it, Glen and I settled into different lives and different circles and rarely got together.
As sad as that sounds, it’s not sad to me.
I had already had the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest men I have ever known.
I now wish to remember that mountain of a man and not the old man from last summer.