Eugene Biccard Glick, an Indianapolis native and World War II veteran who built a fortune as a residential real estate developer before becoming better known as one the city’s most generous philanthropists, died Wednesday at 92.
Glick, who had Alzheimer's disease and had been ill for some time, died at home.
“A devoted patriot, successful businessman, and generous philanthropist, Gene B. Glick will be remembered always in Indiana for his heart of gold and commitment to leaving this world better than he found it,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said in a prepared statement. “On behalf of the State of Indiana, the First Lady and I mourn the passing of this extraordinary Hoosier and lift up his family and friends in prayer during this difficult time.”
Glick and his wife, Marilyn, who died in 2012, donated millions of dollars over the past two decades to fund a wide range of civic and capital projects, including the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, the Glick Eye Institute at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Indiana History Center and the Indianapolis Art Center.
The couple gave $30 million for the construction of the Glick Eye Institute and $15 million to the Cultural Trail, the bike and pedestrian trail named for them that runs through downtown.
The Arthur M. Glick Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis was named by the Glicks to honor Gene’s brother, who died in 1937 from spinal meningitis.
Shortly after their marriage in 1947, the Glicks founded what would become the Gene B. Glick Co., which became Indiana’s most prolific private developer of single-family homes. It began transitioning to the development and management of apartment communities in 1962 and now manages about 20,000 apartment units in 10 states.
“His business philosophy was consistent with his worldview," said David Barrett, president and CEO of Gene B. Glick Co. "He thought, ‘Let me see how I can make things better for people.’ … His goal was to provide affordable and market-rate housing to people, where they would truly find value.”
Much of the fortune the Glicks earned through their business has been used to fund civic projects and charitable organizations throughout central Indiana.
In 1982, the couple established the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Family Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the state. The pair also established The Glick Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation and The Glick Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis.
The Glick Fund operated by the CICF has given out more than $45 million in grants since it was founded in 1998.
One of the Glick's favorite charities was the Children's Bureau Inc., a not-for profit that provides child and family social services in 47 Indiana counties. Three facilities operated by the Children's Bureau are named in honor of the Glick family, including the Gene Glick Family Support Center & Executive Offices. Glick founded the Children Bureau's Pro-100 youth summer-work program in 1981.
Born in 1921, Glick attended Shortridge High School and Indiana University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business.
After college, Glick served in Italy, France and Germany during the height of World War II. As a German speaker, Glick often served as a front-line interrogator for Army scouts. His war experiences were featured in Tom Brokaw’s bestselling book, “The Greatest Generation.”
Glick's division took Nuremburg and Munich, and helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945. Many of the photos Glick took in Germany were donated to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Emory University.
He received every European Theater ribbon awarded and was decorated with the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
One of his war experiences played a major role during the rest of his life, Glick recalled in his autobiography, "Born to Build." He and his fellow soldiers were under heavy shell fire and trapped in an ice-covered trench. He had to lay face-down in freezing water for what seemed like hours as shells and shrapnel rained down.
"I said to myself, how much worse can it be? If I survive, I’m not going to forget this day," he wrote. "Any time I think I’ve got it tough or things aren’t going well, I’m going to say to myself, ‘Glick, how does this compare to Nov. 11, 1944?’”
Glick remained chairman emeritus of the Gene B. Glick Co. after he retired from the CEO position in 2008.
Glick is survived by his four daughters, including local philanthropist Marianne Glick.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation.