Prominent Hoosier philanthropist and IU benefactor Gene Glick dies at age 92

Oct. 10, 2013

Eugene B. Glick, who with his late wife, Marilyn, provided the foundation for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has died. Mr. Glick, 92, died Wednesday, Oct. 2, at his home.

Eugene B. and Marilyn Glick provided the foundation for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the IU School of Medicine.

Eugene B. and Marilyn Glick provided the foundation for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the IU School of Medicine.

Mr. Glick was a World War II veteran who built one of the country’s most successful housing firms during the construction boom that followed the war. He and his wife were known for their generous philanthropy that benefitted the arts, public health and aid organizations throughout Central Indiana. He was a graduate of Indiana University, earning a degree in business.

“The Indiana University community has lost a true friend in the passing of Gene Glick, and our thoughts, deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. “Gene, along with his late wife and partner, Marilyn, were Indiana treasures whose generosity and spirit of caring will benefit Hoosiers for decades to come. The eye care institute that bears their name will keep IU at the forefront of vision research and care, and we will endeavor to live up to the faith they have shown in Indiana University.”

The Glicks’ gift of $30 million to Indiana University allowed the creation of an endowment and provided the support necessary for the creation of the Glick Eye Institute, a nearly 80,000-square-foot building that provides clinical space, research labs, educational opportunities and an administrative home for the Department of Ophthalmology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. The gift that allowed for the development of the Glick Eye Institute was the capstone of the couple's philanthropy.

“While Mrs. Glick had a keen interest in vision care and research, Mr. Glick supported the goal to place Indiana University at the forefront of clinical care and discoveries that would benefit those with blinding eye diseases,” said Louis B. Cantor, M.D., chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. “He believed that treatments and cures for vision loss could be developed in Indiana and shared with people across the country and around the world. Our goals are to complete the build-out of the research labs, increase the research endowment and begin planning for Phase II expansion of the research facilities.”

Dr. Cantor noted that Mr. Glick often quoted Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who advised to “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. ... Think big.”

“That quote certainly captures the essence of Mr. Glick as a businessman and as a philanthropist,” Dr. Cantor said.

Mr. Glick, who was featured in Tom Brokaw’s best-selling novel “The Greatest Generation,” was born in Indianapolis. As a soldier he and his comrades liberated Dachau concentration camp in April 1945; the photographs he took there were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Emory University. Mr. Glick received every European Theater ribbon awarded and received the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s badge.

Returning to Indianapolis after the war, Mr. Glick first worked at People’s Bank where he established the GI loan program. It was there that he saw a business opportunity when he realized there was a housing shortage for returning GIs.

With his wife and business partner, Marilyn, he founded what would become the Gene B. Glick Company, one of the largest privately held real estate development firms in the country. Mr. Glick initially ran the business while also working at the bank; Mrs. Glick supervised the construction projects. By 1962, the company was the largest builder of single-family homes in Indiana.

The donor wall at the Glick Eye Institute.

The donor wall at the Glick Eye Institute.

The company expanded into apartments in 1963, with Mr. Glick writing legislation that would help Indianapolis accept federal funds for the construction of affordable housing.

The Glicks established the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Family Foundation to provide funding for public and private initiatives that serve the greater Indianapolis community, including the Indiana Authors Award at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Foundation and Pro 100, a leadership program for underprivileged youth. Through their leadership and support, the city of Indianapolis and the Central Indiana Community Foundation created the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Eugene and Marilyn Glick. The trail also features the Glick Peace Walk. The Indiana Historical Society named its new headquarters on the Indianapolis Central Canal after the Glicks in recognition of their gifts to the organization.

Mr. Glick served on numerous professional and philanthropic boards. He is a member of the National Housing Hall of Fame and is a Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame Laureate. Governors Orr, Bayh and Kernan presented Mr. Glick with Sagamore of the Wabash awards. He was named an Indiana Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society in 2002.

He was a supporter of many Jewish causes and was a member of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. He is survived by four daughters.

Memorials may be directed to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute. Checks may be made payable to IU Foundation, Account 32MOPH045, and mailed to IU Foundation, P.O. Box 660245, Indianapolis, IN 46266-0245.

Read more Headlines stories »