Alfred R. Glancy III
Grosse Pointe Woods - Alfred R. Glancy, III, a Detroit corporate and community leader over four decades, died January 10 after a long illness. He was 80 and died at home in Grosse Pointe Woods attended by family.
A man whose dry, gentle humor belied his powerful leadership positions, Mr. Glancy led the Detroit Symphony though financial crisis while at the same time overseeing MichCon's business empire. He also was proud of the role he played in the success of Unico Properties LLC, a Seattle-based privately owned commercial real estate company. Real estate was part of his heritage; his father, Alfred R. Glancy, Jr., a co-founder of Unico in 1953, took him to his first board meeting at age 15 and once co-owned the Empire State Building.
A graduate of Princeton in 1960, Mr. Glancy was close to the university throughout his life and died surrounded by reminders of his happy time there.
Mr. Glancy is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Ruth Mary Roby, his half brothers Rick and Larry Ramstrum, Michael, Terrance and David Glancy, his children Joan Courts Glancy "Jody", Alfred R. Glancy IV "Rob", Andrew Roby Glancy and his daughter-in-law Leigh Douglas Glancy. He is predeceased by his half brother Peter Glancy and his son Douglas Glancy.
Mr. Glancy's grandchildren Tucker Noble Scott, Alfred R. Glancy V (Quin), Matilda Glancy Scott, Ruth Roby Scott and Payson David Glancy all called him "Bapa" and he doted on them to their delight, taking pictures with the many cameras he accumulated, although his daughter Jody said he "often forgot to focus the lens. Even though he read the photography books and magazines, he never understood the basics of camera functions, composition and light."
He was an avid reader. Crime novels were always stacked up at his bedside and he went everywhere with a book. A friend recalled his reading a paperback throughout a trip on a raft down the Colorado River in the 1960s. While the Grand Canyon walls got deeper and the rapids more fierce, he bounced along with his nose in a book, enjoying the ride and the read.
Kurt Luedtke, a friend of 40 years, said, "Al Glancy was patrician to the soles of his beat-up feet; he was Princeton and Grosse Pointe (the Farms) incarnate. Effortlessly and without an ounce of striving, he belonged to everything and knew everybody who was deemed to be anybody and in the 70s and 80s, not much happened in the struggling Detroit renaissance without his participation or blessing. He was a kind and gentle and unassuming man."
Mr. Glancy and his wife Ruth were considered a notable couple in Detroit's charitable community, not the least because Mrs. Glancy led the Detroit Zoological Society through many years of improvements.
Mr. Glancy spent most of his career in the energy business, joining Michigan Consolidated Company (MichCon) in 1962 soon after he was awarded an MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked his way up within the company, eventually becoming Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MichCon in 1984, serving as CEO until 1992 and chairman until 2001.
MichCon was spun off from its former parent, American Natural Resources System, in 1988 and formed its own holding company, MCN Energy Group, Inc. MCN grew from less than $1 billion to nearly $5 billion in assets over the years in exploration and production, pipeline and processing, storage and marketing, electric power production distribution businesses throughout the U.S. and several emerging countries, primarily India.
In 2001, MCN merged with DTE Energy Company. Glancy was Chairman and CEO of MCN for its entire existence. He retired in 2001, then served on the DTE board until his retirement in 2009.
"He had significant influence in the gas industry," DTE board member Frank Hennessey said. "He hired some outstanding individuals with real abilities in that business." Hennessey said he was outspoken and "we admired him for letting his feelings be known. He recruited me for the MichCon board and we were close personal friends."
Born March 14, 1938, in Detroit, he spent his childhood years in Grosse Pointe where his nickname was "Robin," perhaps because his middle name was Robinson. When he boarded the train for The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, he discarded the nickname and called himself Al from that point forward.
Throughout his successful business career and well into his retirement, Mr. Glancy devoted himself to many Detroit area nonprofit organizations, none more intensely than the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, on whose board he served for four decades. "It was his passion" Jody Glancy said. The feeling was mutual. The DSO's Anne Parsons said he "served over so many years in a leadership capacity and had such an impact in the early '90s when state funding was lost" and later while launching the Orchestra Place project. "He was bigger than life," Parsons said, "very passionate, with a heart as huge as anybody I've met. He was incredibly generous with his time and resources." He became the first Chairman Emeritus in recognition of his six years as chairman 1992 to 1998.
A listing of Mr. Glancy's other community leadership is long. Organizations where he served as Chairman included Detroit Renaissance, Inc.,The Detroit Medical Center, New Detroit, Inc., Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, MLX Corp., and Wayne County Airport Authority Board. He also served in board positions at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Business Leaders for Michigan (formerly Detroit Renaissance), Shorebank Corporation (Chicago, IL), the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Hudson Webber Foundation and on the University of Michigan Visiting Committee for the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics. He was a trustee of Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
Mr. Glancy was also Chair of The Glancy Foundation and Manager of Glancy GKW Enterprises, LLC.
Not as visible to Detroiters was the role Al Glancy played in the success of Unico Properties in Seattle, a company that manages and owns, in part, 16 million square feet of commercial office, medical office and multifamily rental housing in six states.
Herbert Tobin, a board member of Unico, said that Al Glancy "brought his experience as chairman of a very successful public company to bear on our private company. He was an executive chairman who oversaw considerable growth of the company. His leadership was probably the most impactful element in our success." His daughter Jody Glancy now holds his seat on the board.
Among friends who reflected on Mr. Glancy's friendship was John Stroh who said, "When I think of Al, I think of honesty, integrity, and intellectual acuity, combined with a great sense of humor and lightening-quick wit. He was a man who was deeply committed to his family and his community. He was well known for his candor and you could always count on Al to provide a frank assessment of the various business or political matters he was dealing with. He was very proud of his children, delighted in his grandchildren. He cared deeply about making our community a better place and worked tirelessly for it. Al and Ruth were so supportive of my wife Vivian and me a generation ago when we were not much older than our kids are today. We constantly think of how they encouraged our own community engagement."
Recalling her father's favorite things, Jody Glancy cited his pet fish which included big Koi in an outdoor fountain at his home where he emerged each morning to feed them and show them off to visitors. She also said scotch, steak, chocolate and hummers were favorites, although green vegetables definitely were not.
The funeral will be held on February 2, 2019 at 11am in St. Paul's Cathedral. A reception will follow immediately at the DSO's Music Box. The family would appreciate memorial gifts to Princeton's Alfred R. Glancy III, Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund and to The Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
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