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Glen Robertson

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Glen Robertson Obituary
Glen E. Robertson Glen Evan Robertson was born in Ogden, Utah, August 10, 1922, the son of Idahoans Frank Chester and Winnie Bowman Robertson, his father being a sheepherder turned noted author whose published works included well over a hundred novels, some becoming movies, of western fiction and more than five thousand short stories plus some non-fiction, including the autobiography A RAM IN THE THICKET. His mother learned to type to help her writer husband, and a heavy female relative of hers, seeking to help Winnie with her two baby sons, one of whom was Glen, rolled upon Glen's baby brother, suffocating him. When Glen's older sister suffered a tragic death, his parents resolved to have no more children. Being ducked in a swamp far from medical help resulted in Glen's eardrums being ruptured and 4-F for World War II. His efforts to join the Merchant Marine failed for the same reason. He became a United Press newsman. He earned a Master's degree in college, with a major in English and a minor in Spanish. He began a teaching career at Ogden, Utah, the Utah State Industrial School. He felt that these students were a challenge, for they had had to be locked up for one reason or another. In vacation time he headed south, as he usually did, hoping to learn to speak and understand Spanish better. A miscalculation caused him to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a Portuguese speaking country. It was not Glen's first miscalculation. Earlier he had thought in west Guatemala, where he was traveling with a group, that under his pillow was a safe place for his wallet and all credentials and identification. It wasn't. A theft occurred. Left behind by his group but with a few dollars in his pocket and a note from the American consul allowing him seven days to leave the country, he made his way home, albeit with some hair-raising adventures en route, being given a ride while hitchhiking by ninety mile an hour driving teenagers, passing his destination by many states and at one point going into Mexico, he arrived home and went sleepless for at least six months, gratified that his mind seemed incredibly sharpened doing hard math easily and no paper. Then his skin erupted and crusty mounds formed, which a country doctor advised him to tear off and treat with alcohol. A more informed doctor then solved his problem with a few words: "Get some sleep." It worked. In Rio de Janeiro, on one of Glen's looking for adventure rambles, Glen met his wife-to-be, Vera Tinlova Robertson. Glen had thought Brazil was a good place to learn Spanish. It wasn't. Portuguese was the language there, but Vera, with her knowledge of about 14 languages, gave him assistance. Glen couldn't believe his good fortune. It seemed that they naturally bonded. They married in Rio, an onlooker at the wedding ceremony supplying the Portuguese version of "Yes" when linguistically confused Glen was silent at the important moment. At any rate, they would be together as man and wife for more than half a century. Glen often said that he should have slung his weight around more but that he didn't weigh all that much and that it was easier to leave the deciding to Vera, which suited Vera just fine, considering the hard life she had led, when decisions were made for her. Glen thought that meeting Vera was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and he was aware that he almost missed meeting her. Finally, back in the States, Glen resumed teaching at the reform school, only now with Vera living with him on the site. A tragedy almost happened in the life of the pair. An inmate tried to flee the campus, and Vera, trying to help Glen in his job, flew out of the house to intercept the fleeing young woman. Fortunately for the newlywed couple, another teacher, a coach, a big husky fellow, outran Vera. And he nearly died as a result, for the inmate was armed with a sharp knife and stabbed the burly boxing coach half a dozen times before being subdue Because of that episode and because a change of leadership at the school had resulted in Glen's being unhappy and clearly in danger of being attacked by large and dangerous male inmates, Glen moved on in teaching. Glen had had great success teaching under the tutelage of his first principal, to whom he was fiercely loyal because of his hands-on involvement, but his successor hid himself for work on his Master's thesis presuming to answer the question, "What would be the result if reformatory students were taken off 'fun' projects and forced into the most difficult and boring of unrelieved work textbooks?" When a towering giant of a frustrated student who had formerly been cited as a role model for others angrily smashed his fist through a heavy wired glass window in Glen's classroom, Glen realized that he could no longer tolerate this teaching situation. Glen knew that he had to seek employment as a teacher elsewhere, where student welfare came first where violence, as a result, would be rare and where a teacher turning his back to a class would not be a dangerous thing. Glen, however, found a different sort of problem when he found a job in a high school in Beaver, Utah, where a slew of well-deserved "F" grades given to children of the principal, superintendent, and a number of School Board members in one class quickly lost him his job. Shrugging and easily moving on, he taught at the junior high level at Pondham Elementary School in Pond, California. Success came immediately. This success, along with his United Press Assn. and Albuquerque Journal experience, proved vital to his finding employment as a teacher at College of the Sequoias, Visalia, California. The school desired a teacher capable of directing the school newspaper. The superintendent, a former junior high teacher, was impressed that Glen had drawn attention for successfully teaching at the junior high school level. After being hired, Glen learned that the school's newspaper position was no longer open. Glen succeeded a teacher who, for the plays and operettas, directed the lighting crews. Glen was dismayed, for he knew nothing about such things, but a student assisted him, and Glen learned fairly quickly. He remained with the College of the Sequoias as English teacher and lighting director for plays and operettas for 26 years until he retired in 1983, one year too soon, as he discovered one year too late. It was not a good year to select to retire in, for his contract assured him of a sizable raise the following year. Moreover, the school superintendent, who, along with Glen had elected to retire in 1983 had abruptly and without explanation changed his mind and postponed his retirement until 1984. That should have given Glen pause for thought, but Glen faced a complete change of his textbooks, and he was feeling exhausted, so he retired and did not join the superintendent in remaining another year. Glen was to regret this, for, in addition to that guaranteed raise, an extra special retirement package was provided for those retiring along with the superintendent. All insurance would be paid for by the college. In the years that followed, insurance premiums skyrocketed, and that along with other reverses of various sorts caused Glen to see the financial empire inherited from his father begin to evaporate. However, Glen had many satisfactions in his latter years. He and his loving Czech wife Vera greatly enjoyed their home at 4812 West Myrtle Avenue in Visalia, California, where their loyal and loving friends and neighbors in their last years rallied to their support. Glen never ceased to love and admire his wife for her many attributes. He often regretted that his father's biographical rendering of her life had disappeared somewhere never to reappear, for her life, he felt was incredibly more fascinating

Published in Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Adv-Register on Aug. 17, 2013
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