The Universal Notebook: Remembering Gordon Glover, a true patriot

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The extraordinary life of Gordon Glover, who passed away at the great age of 93 on April 11, was celebrated June 23 at the South Freeport Congregational Church along with that of his wife Lynn. Gordon and Lynn were born four months apart in 1924 and died 90 days apart this year.

Gordon was a person I came to admire greatly, not only as a crusading journalist and an ardent environmentalist, but as a World War II combat veteran, a gentleman and a lifelong liberal. He was one of those selfless individuals who put the “Great” in the Greatest Generation.

I met Gordon six or eight years ago, when I was invited to lunch with the Geezers, a group of veteran journalists who get together a couple of times a year to compare notes on the state of the state, the world and humanity in general. Because I was still a practicing journalist, the Geezers were interested in what I thought, as though I might know something they didn’t. I didn’t. But it made me feel good to think that such an accomplished man as Lord High Geezer Gordon Glover valued my humble opinion.

As a teenage pilot during World War II, Gordon flew 30 bombing missions over Germany. Later in life he flew gliders over the White Mountains just for fun. After attending the University of Tennessee on the GI Bill, he embarked on a distinguished journalism career that ended just about the same time my less distinguished one began.

Gordon wrote for the Knoxville Sentinel right out of college, then worked for the Associated Press from 1950-1964, edited and published the weekly Citizen of Morris County, New Jersey, from 1964-1975, and served as an editor at the New York Daily News from 1975-1978 before becoming a speechwriter for U.S. Sen. James Sasser, D-Tennessee, and then a program officer for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation from 1980-1992.

A lifelong progressive, Gordon understood, as I do, the job of a journalist to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” a formula for championing the underdog often attributed to H.L. Menken, but which originated with Finley Peter Dunne. He was most pleased at Geezer luncheons when younger journalists who had taken up the charge attended, among them Colin Woodard, Bill Nemitz and myself.

“What do you think’s going to happen, kid,” he would ask me. As if I knew.

As a newsman, Gordon was horrified that Trump Republicans, Fox News and conservative talk radio had managed to discredit legitimate news sources with the “fake news” incantation that holds the ignorant and the gullible in its thrall.

As an environmentalist who had served on the boards of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the League of Conservation Voters, as well as having worked to fund the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone Park while at the Dodge Foundation, Gordon was appalled that protection of our precious natural environment, both in Maine and in the U.S., was now in the hands of people bent on drilling for oil on and offshore and cutting state and national forest lands.

As a combat veteran, Gordon could not understand how any military veteran could support a man who insulted POWs, attacked Gold Star families, thought he knew more than the generals and praised the very dictators who are America’s greatest enemies, while alienating many of the allies we will need when Trump starts WWIII with an ill-timed tweet.

“What do you think’s going to happen, kid?”

“No idea, Gordon, but I’m afraid it’s not going to be pretty.”

Gordon first came to Maine with the AP and the Glovers retired to their waterfront cottage in South Freeport. Gordon’s long, tall frame was a fixture at the local YMCA, where he swam laps until advancing age and declining health caught up with him.

After Gordon and Lynn moved to the Bay Square assisted-living facility in Yarmouth, veteran news photographer Don Johnson and I often visited Gordon together. Don would bring in a few beers and we’d sit there sipping cold ones and lamenting the decline of America.

The last time I saw Gordon, I went to Bay Square by myself. Lynn had died a few weeks before and Gordon was in the process of following her. I went into his room and spoke to him, but he was fast asleep. I touched him lightly, then gave him a gentle shake, but he could not be roused. He was already far, far away, drifting off into whatever comes next as CNN droned on in the background.

Our human follies mattered greatly to Gordon Glover, right up until they didn’t.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.