MICKEY MAURER Commentary: An Indianapolis gem shines again

It’s no secret that my mentor is Gene B. Glick. I was privileged to work for Gene early in my career and learn the right way to be a success in business. For example, the ability to remain calm while reacting to the many calamities and adversities of a typical business life is one of the attributes of the Glick style that I admire most. I could have used more time at the feet of this master, but, luckily, school is still in session. Glick is now teaching by example how to intelligently contribute wealth.

I was included as a regular member of Glick’s legendary Monday night management meetings in spite of the fact that I had little or no knowledge of construction and was only one year out of law school.

On Monday nights, the Gene B. Glick Co. came alive. Department heads participated in a carefully orchestrated free-for-all exchange of ideas on current business problems and issues. The group included Bernard Landman, a brilliant lawyer and tactician aptly nicknamed the Wizard, and Jim Bisesi, who was only slightly older than I but already seasoned. The maestro himself, Gene B. Glick, led the team. The education I received on Monday nights was equivalent to an MBA degree with an emphasis on real estate.

Glick was an infantryman in World War II and a liberator of the Dachau concentration camp, where he took photographs of the evidence of the atrocities that took place, including the ovens and the gas chambers where prisoners had been slaughtered and the railroad cars that were filled with human bodies. He is an individualist and a survivor who has triumphed in an often chaotic world. He has amassed a considerable fortune by providing top-quality housing for people of low and moderate income. With the same sense of community and fair play that characterized the acquisition phase of his career, he is now giving it away.

Gene and Marilyn, his partner in business and life, recently made a $30 million gift to Indiana University School of Medicine, one of the largest single gifts for an eye center in the United States. Previous gifts have benefited the Jewish Community Center, Junior Achievement Education Center, Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and YMCA. One of Glick’s favorite charitable projects is Pro 100, a summer work/education program serving economically disadvantaged youths.

The IU gift is only the latest and not the last in what I am sure is part of a grand plan to divest. The Glicks aim to die with no money left-nothing in their safe, nothing in their wallets and just enough pennies in their pockets to provide a decent burial. Gene and Marilyn plan to give it all away. According to Glick, “I believe I have never done enough as long as it is still possible that I have something to contribute.”

A word to the wise: Gene B. Glick is a softy, but not an easy mark. If after reading this column, you think that in order to receive a significant donation from the Glicks you simply need to send in a letter of request, you will be disappointed. All inquiries are analyzed in a methodical manner to ascertain not only legitimacy and necessity, but also whether there is an emotional fit with Gene’s and Marilyn’s passions. Regarding the IU gift to the eye center, note that Marilyn Glick has been involved in blindness prevention for 25 years.

I’m a lucky guy to have landed that job with the Glick Co. so many years ago. I’ve said for over 30 years that, when I grow up, I want to be just like Gene B. Glick.

Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Media Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.comor go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.com.

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