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Glen Howard Wilcox ’56

November 30, 2019, in Portland, Oregon.

Glen was born in Heppner, Oregon, the youngest of three brothers and two sisters. When he was in the second grade, the family moved to Hermiston, Oregon, where he excelled in high school sports and served as student body president his senior year.

After he graduated in 1945, most of his friends were drafted into the army to fight in World War II. Glen wanted to join the navy, but he was only 17. He talked his mother into signing for him to join the U. S. Navy Air Corps, which had a program called the “Kiddie Cruise” that allowed men to sign up at age 17 and serve a three-year enlistment instead of four. Glen finished boot camp in San Diego just after the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Many sailors who had been fighting were shipped back to the States, and the newly enlisted sailors were sent to sea to replace them. Glen was disappointed to discover he wasn’t going to sea. Instead, having discovered that Glen excelled at teaching, the navy sent him to Jacksonville, Florida, to teach electronics at a new school they had established.

After being discharged from the navy, Glen entered the University of Florida, intent on following his passion for education. He married his first wife, Gwen, and welcomed his daughter, Cynthia, into the world. When he and Gwen divorced, Glen moved back to Oregon and began working in his brother’s machine shop. He intended to enroll at Oregon State University until friends told him about Reed. He came into Reed as a junior, and the following summer lived in the boiler building, in charge of maintenance and the summer recreation program, which included the swimming pool and day camps using the athletic facilities. During his senior year, he was asked to be assistant athletic director when the athletic director quit. Glen accepted the position, knowing it meant it would take two years to finish his senior year.

While lifeguarding, he met a woman named Joan, who had once taught swimming and came to swim in Reed’s pool with friends. Glen asked her out, insisted she learn to play bridge, and coached her brother’s high school basketball team. Joan and Glen married and spent the next 65 years together.

Glen wrote his thesis, “Neutron Radiography,” advised by Prof. William Parker [physics 1948–79]. After graduating, he purchased 40 acres of land on Mt. Scott in Southeast Portland, where he built a gunite swimming pool, intending to operate a summer day camp where he would teach swimming during the summer and then teach public school the rest of the year. Their plans changed and Glen and Joan decided to cover the pool, and provide year-round swim lessons. In addition to the swimming lessons, Play Haven provided such activities as trampoline, archery, hiking, fort building, horseback riding, singing, and sports for the thousands of local children who came to the facility for 26 years.

During the first years of Play Haven, Glen and Joan welcomed the 4Ks to their family: Kim, Kari, Kylie, and Kristi, all of whom eventually became employees and managers.

Glen’s passion for education led him to become a David Douglas School District budget committee member and then a school board member. He spent several years as a teacher’s aide in the classroom and was involved  in leading 4-H groups for Kim and Kari in poultry, electronics, and outdoor cooking.

Property taxes, insurance, and operating expenses caused Glen and Joan to make the difficult decision to close Play Haven and sell the property in 1983, and their journey took a new course. Joan went from teaching swimming to accounting and computer education, and because of his extensive background in math and science, Glen was a natural for the emerging computer world. He played an integral part in helping his son, Kim, get his CPA/accounting business up and running by developing accounting software for the company. Kim’s business, Wilcox & Company, PC, became a success, due in part to Glen’s dedication, and Glen continued working with Kim into his 80s.

Glen loved the outdoors, bridge, pinochle, and gardening. He and Joan moved into a Gresham, Oregon, senior living community in 2018. Glen is survived by his wife, Joan; son, Kim Wilcox; and daughters, Kari Rohr, Kylie Holstrom, and Kristi Wilcox Wilson.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2023

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