People could always count on Joe Gluck to lift their spirits with one of his many jokes.
Gluck spent almost 70 years cracking one-liners at West Virginia University, where he served as vice president of student affairs, dean of students andfollowing his retirement in 1980special counselor to students.
That guffaw-filled, yet serious careerwhich began in the post-World War II years, sailed a steady course through the turbulent Vietnam era and continued into todays Generation Ycame to an end Wednesday morning (Feb. 18) when Gluck died at HealthSouth Mountainview Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. He was 89.
I dont know who theyll ever get to replace him in Hatfields at lunch time,said Herman Moses, recently retired dean of students and associate vice president of student affairs.I think he really enjoyed working the crowd and telling jokes. He had a captive audience. You could go into Hatfields with a serious problem and come out laughing.
Gluck, a native of Auburn, Ritchie County, started working for WVU in 1933 as a youth counselor at Jacksons Mill. He came to the Morgantown campus in 1946 as veteranscoordinator, looking after the welfare of the 4,000 World War II veterans who flooded the WVU campus on the GI Bill.
He was promoted to assistant director of student affairs in 1948 and then director the following year. The title was later changed to dean of students, putting Gluck in charge of all departments of student welfare.
Gluck oversaw 30 years of program growth and change on campus before retiring in 1980 as vice president of student affairs and dean of students. He immediately began in his part-time job as special counselor to students, a position he held until his death, working out of a first-floor office at Purinton House.
All told, Gluck was associated with WVU for almost 70 years, making him the states longest employed person in its history.
When I started here, all the deans seemed so old, but now they look quite young,he once reminisced.Surely that change cant reflect my age, can it?
He was also an active cleric in the American Baptist churches, including 28 years at Forks-of-Cheat Babtist Church near Morgantown. He was also the youngest West Virginia chaplain to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Gluck served under 11 presidents and with 82 deans during his time at WVU . He arguably knew more students than any other person in the Universitys history.
One of those students was WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr., who met Gluck when he served as student body president.
West Virginia University has lost one of its most valued community members and trusted friends,Hardesty said.My personal friendship with Dean Gluck goes back 40 years, and literally thousands of former WVU students had the same relationship with this wonderful man.
His dedication to young people and their education, his sense of humor, and his sense of right and wrong have made a lasting mark on the University and generations of its alumni,Hardesty added.In a very real sense, he made WVU a better place. On behalf of the entire University community, including its faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and students, I extend our condolences to the Gluck family.
Other colleagues and friends also had nothing but praise for Gluck.
Joe Glucks dedication to West Virginia University was complete, and the positive impact of his contributions will always be with us,said Ken Gray, current vice president for student affairs at WVU .
Through his many years of service to WVU , he provided valuable guidance for our students, and encouragement and insight to all of us who were fortunate to work with him,Gray added.His wisdom, kindness and wonderful sense of humor touched the lives of so many, and he will be greatly missed.
Gordon Thorn worked with Gluck as his assistant for 23 years.
Working with Joe was an everyday adventure,said Thorn, who retired in 1997 but still works part-time on special projects in student affairs.There are people all over the world he has literally influenced. He was really a peoples person. For those of us who worked with him, he was our counselor, our mentor, our colleague, and most importantly he was our friend.
Thorn recounted a typical work day with Gluck.
During the day we would counsel students, and during the evening we would do paperwork,he said.At the time, our offices were in Martin Hall, which has deep wells in front of the basement windows that animals then could fall into.
Each evening when we left, Joe would say, �€~Its time to do a opossum check,and we would check the wells,Thorn added.If we found an animal in a well, we would call physical plant and someone would come to rescue the animal. Then we would go to the Mountainlair to have a cup of coffee and piece of pie and talk.
Moses was a student then, working as a night-shift supervisor in theLair, which then was in the old stadium loop where the College of Business and Economics now stands.
They would be in there eating their pie, drinking their coffee and talking, and I would be wanting to go home,Moses recalled with a chuckle.
Moses would join Glucks student affairs team in 1965, and among his first assignments was announcing Glucks arrival when the staff tried to break up panty raids.
I was a little taller than Joe, and my assignment was to go around and yell, �€~Here comes Joe Gluck,hoping the students would leave,he said.A few would leave, but most would stay around. Then we would try to move them around campus until they would get tired and quit.
Ron Justice, assistant dean of students, first met Gluck when he was a student at WVU and Gluck was his fraternitys adviser. Later the two became fraternity brothers in Sigma Nu.
Even if you were having a bad day and you got to talk to Joe Gluck, that made it a good day,Justice said.He had a God-given talent to make people feel good by listening and talking with them. I learned so much from him in this regard. He was truly a mentor to me. He enjoyed living life, and you saw that in Joe every day. He had a deep love for WVU and the community, and had a major impact on both. He will be sorely missed.
Neil Bolyard, retired director of financial aid at WVU , said he had visited Gluck last Friday at HealthSouth and found him in the cardiac rehabilitation unit telling stories and entertaining the patients.
Bolyard said he dropped some cards and packages off from Glucks many student affairs friends and mentioned to him that he was shipping his daughters prize horses to her out west. When he returned to check on Gluck Monday, his condition had worsened, but he still managed to ask:Did the horses get there OK?
He was just a wonderful, caring man,Bolyard said,with a great memory and sense of humor.
Bolyard recalled a funny story about being hired at the University.
Delmas Miller, dean of education at the time, always went around with a scowl on his face, but he really had a wonderful sense of humor,he said.One of his required things to do for staff who attended professional conferences or meetings was to jot down the important points from the session and circulate them to the entire staff so that we could all take advantage of the key points.
Bolyard, a young graduate assistant in 1962, said he was teaching a class one day and took Point No. 11 on one of Millers papersa joke having to do with a Hollywood TV repairman that sued his wife for divorce, citinglow fidelity and high frequencya bit too far.
Well, I thought it was funny so I repeated it to one of my classes,he added.They chuckled, the bell rang, and I dismissed them, not thinking any more about it. The next thing I know Im getting a call from Dean Glucks office saying he wanted to see me in his office the next afternoon.
After he got through pacing around the office as only Joe Gluck could do, he slammed his hands down on the desk, looked at me and asked: �€~Hey, would you by any chance be interested in a job?Bolyard said.Im guessing he thought I had a good sense of humor and would fit in just fine. Anyway, he appointed me veterans and scholarship coordinator that year, and later I went on to be director of financial aid.
Bolyard said what he will remember most about his cherished friend was his ability to take a student with a major problemwhether it be grades or something personaland make that person feel better about himself.
I saw this happen repeatedly over the years, and always would think, gosh, how great it would be to have that talent,he added.
Gluck also had good friends in politics and business.
Former Gov. Cecil Underwood knew Gluck for almost 60 years.
He was born in Ritchie County and I was born in Tyler Countynot far apart,Underwood said.I met Joe for the first time as a graduate student at WVU in the40s, and all three of our children were advised and counseled by Joe when they were students at the University. He was also a very prominent alumnus of Bethany College, so I had contact with him when I served as president.
He was a very interesting person, very much a renaissance man, with interests and knowledge in so many different fields,Underwood added.Joe was also a very successful minister and church leader, and an outstanding youth consultant. And, of course, all who knew him know he was a nature lover and one who collected great volumes of humor. He has given much to the quality of life in West Virginia, and he will certainly be missed.
Mingo County businessman and philanthropist Buck Harless remembered Gluck asone of the most unusual individuals I have ever met.
His humor and his outlook on life was amazing,Harless said.He was so effective in cheering one up. When you heard from Joe, your spirit would be lifted. He regularly sent me jokes that he had accumulated, and I could always picture him smiling when he read them himself.
I think he did as much for the students at the University in his tenure as anyone has ever done,he added.I talk to older graduates now who say Joe had a great influence on their lives and would help them when they got going in the wrong direction.
Glucks influence at WVU cannot be overstated, Thorn said.
He was involved in successful efforts to bring to the WVU campus the mast from the USS West Virginia, Thorn noted. He also participated in the Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies at Oglebay Plaza where the mast stands.
The support WVU receives from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in Pittsburgh has its roots in a friendship between Gluck and an executive with the foundation, he added.
He was one of the founders of and early inductees into the Order of Vandalia, WVU s highest honor for extraordinary service to the institution.
He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1991, the nations oldest and largest academic honor society.
In honor of Glucks many contributions, WVU named the Mountainlair theater after him in 1990. He was also a charter member of the WVU Student Affairs Hall of Fame.
Many will remember Gluck from his other jobplaying Santa Claus. He would dress as the Jolly Old Elf every Christmas to entertain children in the Morgantown area. He was also the Universitys official Santa.
But, foremost, all will remember Glucks humor.
Moses recounted Gluck coining the termhumurosityand his tireless efforts to get the word included in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
He was so proud of the word,Moses said.He strongly believed in humor and found humor in almost anything. He would always say, �€~Herman, if anything ever happens to me, someone has to come into my office and clean it out immediately because I have a lot of (off color) jokes in there.
Gluck was a graduate of Harrisville High School, Bethany College and Yale University. He did post-graduate study at Harvard and Oxford universities and held honorary degrees from Bethany and Alderson-Broaddus colleges.
Glucks reputation spread beyond the Morgantown area. A profile of him will appear in a West Virginia encyclopedia being published by the West Virginia Humanities Council.
He is survived by three children, Susannah Glomb of Arlington, Va.; Jody Crosland of Miami, Fla., and Christopher Gluck of Morgantown.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret.
Hastings Funeral Home in Morgantown is in charge of arrangements, which are incomplete.