By Mark Reynolds
Recently, family and friends gathered at the Shadows Restaurant in Poughkeepsie to honor and celebrate Glenn Clarke on his 90th birthday.
Nephew Gregory Clarke said he represents the Pennsylvania branch of the family. He said his uncle, who is an avid student of history, was born in 1932 when Herbert Hoover was in the White House but would lose to Franklin D. Roosevelt that November; Amelia Earhart crossed the Atlantic; the U.S, hosted both the summer and winter Olympics in Los Angeles and Lake Placid respectively. In July 1932 the Dow was at 41.2 and Adolph Hitler was on the cusp of ruling Germany. In the United States Prohibition is still the law of the land but would end a year later. The first technicolor cartoon was produced by Disney called “Flowers and Trees”, the Radio City Music Hall in New York City opened in December and the first science fiction show, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century debuted on radio. At that time about 70% of the U.S. was electrified and gas was 18 cents a gallon. Other notable births in 1932 were Johnny Cash, Elizabeth Taylor and Omar Sharif.
“You’ve seen a lot in your 90 years, we love you very much and wish you many more happy years. Here’s to Glenn,” Gregory concluded.
Clarke said on reaching 90, “it is hard to conceive. I don’t believe I’m 90 years old. I loved the fact that everyone was there and were celebrating with me this milestone.”
Clarke is most proud of his work to rehabilitate the 1883 Milton Train Station, which he took on after he retired from Avon.
“From the get-go, Pat Quick was head of construction and I was head of putting it all together, he said. “I like to be active and I met with Pat and we went down there and we didn’t even think about all that was done, we just thought about saving the train station.”
Clarke said the project took 12 years, adding that they were very fortunate with all of the people that joined in the effort.
“It turned out to be a fine endeavor, but I wasn’t the only one. I was part of a circle of people who were interested in that train station,” he said. “I think it’s the vision plus the ability to get things done. The secret was to get the people together as equals and to get them to make the commitment.”
Clarke said the group met every Saturday and each had a particular assignment of work to do at the station.
‘Everybody was always busy and they all got along together very well,” he said.
Clarke gave special thanks to his partner Edouard DeSoto for planning such a wonderful birthday party for him.
Former Supervisor Al Lanzetta got to know Glenn in 2006 when renovating the train station was under consideration.
“I’ll never forget, he brought me down there and saw the station and the theater room and I got extremely excited and talked about how we would bring it back to life,” Lanzetta said. “That’s when Pat Quick and I got involved every Saturday from 8am to 1 p.m. along with a bunch of great guys. It was a lot of hard work and a great experience.”
Lanzetta secured final grants totaling $350,000 to finish off the outstanding items on the station. Recently, the train station foundation committed about $50,000 to place the pavers in front of the station, “which will finish it off and make it really pop.”
Lanzetta recalled that, “Glenn was very driven to get the station back on the state and federal historic rolls, worked with people across the aisle and it was a great opportunity for people to get together.”
Sandra Butler White knew Glenn when he worked at Avon. She told Glenn that, “Some days are diamonds and some days are stones and today you are a diamond... He is the energizer bunny, he does keep giving as it’s all he knows and you exemplify what leadership is, authentic, genuine and ah a little cranky now and then.”
White said when she met Glenn, not only was he the President of the Avon Foundation, he was “the soul, the spirit, the mission and the legacy of what was a great company.”
White described Glenn as a, “man of courage, a man of character, a man of values, conscience, conviction and a man of integrity. I thank you, I feel such gratitude and I thank you for the privilege of your friendship. Happy birthday, I love you.”
Pat Quick said that Glenn, “gave me courage and we put that train station back together. I know he was counting on me and I am glad I stayed with him.”