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Sunday, February 17, 2008

R.I.P Uncle Glenn

Glenn Blair, an honest man, a kind heart, a caring realtor, is dead.

Uncle Glenn came into our family in 1995, as my mom's real estate agent. The house would finally be sold 3 years later, following both my mother's and stepfather's death. But Uncle Glenn had become my Favorite Uncle by then, and will always be.

He was born in London to two stage actors in 1934. When the bombing in Britain became so constant that children were sent away, his parents shipped him to live with an Aunt and Uncle in Hollywood, California. Less than a year later, his parents were killed in a bombing raid in London and Glenn stayed with his Aunt and Uncle permanently.

He attended Hollywood public schools and began performing onstage, in the family tradition. His interest in acting waned in college, and he began pursuing a career in medicine. In his second year of Medical School, he realized he'd never reconcile his personal health beliefs with standard medicine, and quit. He became a personal assistant to Marlene Dietrich through family connections, and worked for her for several years. At one point during a trip to New York City, he decided he liked the East Coast better, and stayed. He took a job with a pharmaceutical company as a sales rep but quickly became disgusted with the drug industry. Then he went to work at Clairol as a sales rep, and was equally appalled at the practices used in that industry. He found his niche for many years working for the old Ma Bell, rising through the ranks from operator to supervisor to management. But he grew bored and quit to become a realtor.

He settled on Staten Island, buying a house on Drumgoole Road. There he collected stray people and dogs, caring for them all with love and patience. He went far over and above his duties to his real estate cutomers, and remained close friends with them all long after the deal was done. His strong ethics and fighting spirit kept many Staten Island brokers in line. He inspired my little brother Seth, who pursued a very successful realtor's career himself, under Uncle Glenn's tutelage. When Seth's cancer became terminal, Uncle Glenn brought him health foods and encouragement. When Seth died, Uncle Glenn held me together yet again.

I can't ever describe him in sufficient terms except to say he was infinitely kind, put others before himself, and was the most honest man I've ever known. His laughter will ring in my ears forever. His example will remain a standard to all who knew him.

The lovely congregation and pastor of the Rossville AME Church are in charge of his affairs. He'd found a second home with that church family, and I'm so glad he did. He was never happier than when he was puttering around on the churchgrounds, planting flowers and making it pretty. That's what he did in all things; made the world prettier. We are all lessened by his loss, whether you knew him or not.


Anonymous said...

My Dearest Sista,

I am so very sorry for your loss. In a world filled with harshness, hostility and meanness, Uncle Glen sounds like a beacon of light.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

How great a thing is mercy. It's quiet and unassuming. It receives few headlines. It is the antithesis of vengeance and hatred, of greed and offensive egotism.

God Bless you Uncle Glenn. Go in Peace.

Laura Austan said...

Thanks, Little Sista. He was an amazing force of nature. 6'2, bright white wavy hair, sparkly blue eyes and that old fashioned gentlemanliness on top of it all.

We have to go to the city, visit his local haunt, the Boulevard Tavern, and hoist a few, when the interment happens in the spring.

Laura Austan said...

Just sent my last message to his email; I hope he sees it on the ether...some way.

Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know they will still live on and on
But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn't easy, but I'll try

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high 'To Sir, With Love'

The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That's a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart 'To Sir, With Love'

I'll Be Seeing You, UG.
Your Brat in Brattleboro