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Aide to four Stanford presidents, Frederic O. Glover, dies at 81

STANFORD -- Frederic O. Glover, founder of the Stanford News Service and long-time aide to the late President J.E. Wallace Sterling and three other presidents, died Thursday, Nov. 18, of cancer at his campus home. He was 81.

More than any other person in Stanford's post-World War II history, Glover was looked to by alumni and friends of the university as the embodiment of institutional memory and Stanford loyalty. The story of his career mirrors the history of the university.

As executive assistant to Sterling, he occupied a 50- yard-line seat during Stanford's transformation to an institution of international reputation.

In his role as official liaison with the Board of Trustees - and the man who kept board minutes - Glover was privy to behind- the-scenes actions of those who shaped Stanford. He was close personally to many trustees, some of whom had been fraternity brothers at Stanford. He was a major link between the university and its community of emeriti professors and staff, and was an information source on just about any Stanford topic.

A journalist, naval intelligence officer, amateur boxer, linguist and world traveler, Glover signed on at Stanford in 1946 at the request of then-President Donald B. Tresidder to launch what was called the Office of Information.

In 1952, Sterling tapped him as assistant, promoting him to executive assistant seven years later. He continued in that role during the 1968-70 presidency of Kenneth Pitzer. Richard W. Lyman took over in 1970, formalizing Glover's trustee relations role the next year with the title of secretary to the university. Glover retired in 1977 with the title of secretary to the university emeritus.

Commenting on his former aide, Lyman said that "Fred Glover's hopes, fears and satisfactions were all closely tied to the fortunes of the university he loved and served so long and faithfully. He rejoiced in Stanford's triumphs, lamented its misfortunes and reacted furiously to any who would do it harm."

Lyman said that Glover was a "one-man intelligence unit and sympathy squad - no one in the Stanford family suffered or gained glory without Fred's being among the first to know, and to spread the word, veteran newsy that he was, as widely as possible, and as sympathetically."

"Stanford is not the same without him."

At a reception in 1974, Sterling said of his loyal deputy, "The only quarrel I've ever had about Fred Glover is that his very energy made me feel tired. But I forgave him for that, because in every other way he was absolutely indispensable."

In another setting, Sterling talked about Glover's ability to predict problems: "Fred Glover was always there when we needed him. He always seemed to know things that were happening before they did."

A campus wit once said that Sterling appointed Glover and "for 16 years thereafter Sterling wore a worried look on Fred Glover's face."

European, Stanford education

Glover was born Feb. 11, 1912, in Washington, D.C., the son of Coast Guard Capt. Jesse W. Glover and his wife, Mable, and the great grandson of Gold Rush Californians. His parents settled in Palo Alto, where, during the Depression, they attracted national attention for a homeless shelter they established on the site of the current Holiday Inn.

During the 1920s, the Glovers moved to Europe and enrolled their son in boarding schools so he would become fluent in other languages. Young Glover returned to the United States to attend Stanford, graduating cum laude in economics in 1933. He also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. A member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, he was captain of the boxing team during his junior and senior years, and held the Pacific Coast Conference boxing title in the lightweight division.

After earning his degree, Glover did postgraduate work at the University of Hamburg for a year. German officials forced him to leave the country in 1934 after he sold Esquire magazine a $400 article describing several student duels he witnessed. He reported that the government of Chancellor Adolf Hitler had allowed the revival of dueling because it promoted "courage and stamina."

Glover then traveled the world, earning $25 each for approximately 100 articles he sent to the San Francisco Argonaut about his sometimes-harrowing adventures in Spain, France, Morocco, Ceylon, China, Japan and the Philippines. In Spain he got caught in student riots and observed other tensions that led to the Spanish Civil War two years later.

His appetite for journalism whetted, Glover practically forced his way into a job at the Redwood City Tribune, announcing to an editor who said no jobs were available that he would start Monday and work for free. After two weeks in sports, he was given a paycheck and a permanent job; and within six months, he was city editor. In 1936, he was appointed editor of the Burlingame Advance.

His newspaper career was interrupted in May 1941, when he was called to active duty after two years as a reserve officer in the Navy. Taking advantage of language skills he acquired in Europe, the Navy assigned him to work in counterintelligence in San Francisco. Later, he was sent to London and then Berlin, where he saw duty as Chief of Naval Intelligence for Navy Forces in Germany. He held the rank of commander at the time of his discharge.

Stanford's resident journalist

Glover returned to his job as editor of the Burlingame Advance after the war and was considering a State Department job offer when an intermediary asked if he would like to be Stanford's first full-time director of information.

During his interview with President Tresidder, Glover said he would accept the job only on condition that he could report all the news - good and bad - and do it quickly and accurately. Having had bad experiences with the press in his position as head of Yosemite Park and Curry Co., Tresidder was unsure about Glover's suggestion, but decided to give it a try. Glover started his new job in November 1946.

On the hunt for campus stories, Glover spent one day a week at the Stanford Medical School, then located in San Francisco, pioneering medical coverage at a time when doctors did not want to be written about.

Out of the Chemistry Department, he reported the discovery that Stanford scientist Hubert Loring had isolated the polio virus.

Another time, he came upon physics Professor William Hansen, surrounded with what looked like milk cans and barbed wire. A scientific chart on the wall had a notation across it in red pencil: "It works!" Glover then wrote about Hansen and his success in accelerating electrons.

Glover had relatively little contact with Tresidder in the 15 months preceding the president's sudden death in January 1948, but after his success getting front-page coverage of Loring's polio virus story, Glover had received a note from the top man saying, "I like your style."

Glover continued as director of information upon the appointment of Sterling in 1949 as Stanford's fifth president.

One day when Glover and Sterling crossed paths on the Quad, Sterling asked Glover a question about a complicated issue that Glover said he could not answer until he did some research.

Just as he had been trained to do working for a vice admiral, Glover provided Sterling with a one-page summary of the pros and cons of the issue. He included appendices with further background and a letter for Sterling's signature.

On receiving the packet, Sterling told Glover to "close up shop. I've been looking for someone who can draft letters like that."

Expanded role

Glover turned over the news job to Peter C. Allen and moved to the President's Office in April 1952, taking on an ever- increasing array of tasks over the years.

Drawing on Glover's fluency in German, French, Spanish and Italian, and his knowledge of protocol, Sterling assigned his deputy to serve as host and interpreter for important foreign visitors.

He also sought Glover's help with domestic visitors. Once, when Sterling was ill, he asked Glover and his wife, Nini, to step in as hosts at a Hoover House dinner for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Trying to spark lively conversation, Glover discovered that the chief justice felt it inappropriate to discuss most timely topics.

"That was one of the most difficult evenings in my life at Stanford," recalled Glover.

Sterling also sent Glover to tour parts of Europe with Professor Robert Walker, first director of Stanford's ambitious overseas campus program, in search of potential campus sites. Glover often attended the campus openings, going early to arrange news conferences for Stanford and foreign dignitaries.

Glover never claimed to be a major decision-maker during the rapid-growth 1950s and 1960s. He was the key staff member in the flurry of activity, carrying out Sterling's orders and keeping communication open among all the players.

Despite his staff role, Glover was willing to stand up to Provost Frederick Terman, telling him to leave Sterling alone after stressful trustee meetings and other times when Sterling had health problems.

"I gave Fred orders and he accepted them," Glover said of Terman. "He knew that I served Wally."

Terman was one of four people Glover credited with Stanford's transformation. The others were Sterling, Board of Trustees President Lloyd Dinkelspiel, and alumnus and trustee David Packard.

Packard helped convince trustees to follow Terman's visionary ideas about the importance of science and engineering, Glover said in a retirement interview. Sterling and Dinkelspiel provided strong leadership in fund raising.

"The first step was to go out and build up the faculty," Glover said. "The second was putting money into the libraries, then buildings to house people. Next came the push to improve the student body, reaching into the East."

Trustees in the early 1960s were concerned that the university was being too venturesome, Glover said. Sterling and Terman reassured them that the institution could cut back later if necessary.

"It was government support - and fear of government control - that made people nervous," Glover said.

High point, low point

Reflecting recently on his long career, Glover said that one of his greatest services to Stanford was encouraging Wally Sterling to interview Kenneth Cuthbertson for a financial assistant- to-the-president opening in the 1950s. Cuthbertson went on to play a key role in organizing Stanford's long-range financial planning and fund-raising programs.

Two low points always stood out in Glover's mind: the arson fire that destroyed Sterling's office less than two months before the president's 1968 retirement, and the student demonstrations of the late '60s and early '70s.

It fell to Glover to call Sterling at 4 a.m. one morning with the news that his office had been destroyed. The fire caused $300,000 damage and destroyed Sterling's collection of 3,000 books, his unfinished manuscripts on British foreign policy and developments in U.S. higher education, and numerous personal possessions.

"I've never seen Fred as upset as he was that morning," said one colleague. "He really took that hard, partly because of his relationship with Wally, but also because he recognized the historic importance of what went up in smoke."

During the student demonstrations, Glover delivered a "football block" to a student who was breaking into a trustee meeting at the Faculty Club.

"We landed, mixed up just like a football play, out in the hall," he later said.

After testifying in student judicial proceedings, Glover received two death threats and was given a police guard at his home.

Following his 1977 retirement, Glover went on special assignment for the Stanford Observer, visiting Stanford's overseas campuses and sending back in-depth stories describing the academic, cultural and personal experiences of students. He also revisited many of the places he wrote about in the 1930s.

Memberships, honors

A charter member of the Stanford Historical Society, Glover in 1978 started its oral history project, jointly sponsored with the University Archives. The object was to interview emeritus faculty members, retired administrators and older alumni to help fill out the university's historical record.

His interview with one retired official produced little- known information about Donald Tresidder's efforts to have the United Nations locate on Stanford land. The transcripts are held in the University Archives at Green Library.

For 10 years during his early career, Glover was active in the Redwood City Kiwanis Club. He then transferred his membership to the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club, where he missed few meetings in 46 years and served as president. Glover also belonged to the Palo Alto Club and other civic groups.

Of the many honors he received over the years, Glover probably was most proud of the Gold Spike Award he received for outstanding contribution to fundraising from the Stanford Associates, the honor society for Stanford volunteers.

Glover also was extremely pleased last May when his national fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, inducted him into its distinguished service chapter for his work in the late 1960s reversing racial discrimination. When the Stanford chapter pledged its first black student, Glover wrote a defense of the action that ultimately led the national organization to change its ban.

Glover is survived by his wife, the former Anita (Nini) Moehlenbrock, whom he met during the war in San Francisco, where she served as a secretary-interpreter in Glover's office. Also surviving are a sister, Mrs. William Kenneth (Azalene) Lowe, and cousin Marjorie Brown, both of San Francisco. Other survivors are three grandchildren, Catherine, Eric and Lisa, and his daughter-in- law Barbara, all of Wellesley, Mass.

His only child, Fred Jr., died at 49 of a massive heart attack on July 13, the same day a doctor told Glover Sr. that he had lung cancer.

Soon thereafter, Glover's Historical Society friends established the Fred Glover Fund for Oral History at Stanford and made gifts in his son's memory. Contributions honoring Glover Sr., payable to Stanford University, may be sent to the fund in care of the Stanford Historical Society, P.O. Box 2328, Stanford, CA 94309.

Gifts also are invited to the Delta Tau Delta Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Carolyn Chang, Office of Development, 301 Encina Hall, Stanford, CA 94305-6076.

Information on services will be announced later.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The correct spelling of Glover's mother's name is Mable.


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