Real estate developer, noted philanthropist Gene B. Glick dead at age 92

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A noted philanthropist and one of Indiana’s most successful real estate developers has died.

Gene Biccard Glick passed away at age 92 Wednesday.

Glick was a World War II combat veteran who went on to build a successful housing firm during the post-war construction boom. Together with his wife, Marilyn, he became known as a great supporter of philanthropic ventures.

Glick was born on Aug. 26, 1921, the older son of Reuben Glick and Faye Biccard Glick. His younger brother, Arthur, died in 1937 of spinal meningitis. Glick later named the Arthur M. Glick Jewish Community Center in honor of his brother.

Glick attended Shortridge Middle School and Indiana University. After graduating from IU in 1942, he completed basic training and served as an Army combat instructor until June 1944, when he was sent to Italy. After requesting a transfer to France, he fought to secure France after the D-Day invasion.

The war shaped his life—and one particular day had a lasting effect. While he and his fellow GIs were under heavy shell fire, Glick dove into an ice-covered slit trench and lay face-down in freezing water for hours as shells and shrapnel rained down. In his autobiography, he wrote, “I said to myself, how much worse can it be? If I survive, I’m not going to forget this day. 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 November 11, 1944?’”

Glick aided in the liberation of Dachau concentration camp in 1945, documenting the conditions with a camera at a time when many were unaware of the true nature of such camps. He would later donate his pictures to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Emory University.

For his service, he received every European Theater ribbon award and earned the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

After the war, he joined Peoples Bank, establishing its GI loan program. He also noticed a shortage in housing as his fellow veterans returned home and started families.

He met Marilyn Koffman shortly after coming home. Together, they began investing in real estate. They married in 1947, founding what would eventually become the Gene B. Glick Company, one of the largest privately held real estate firms in the country.

“Gene was a giant in our industry,” said David Barrett, Glick’s grandson-in-law, who now serves as president and CEO of the Gene B. Glick Company. “He will definitely be missed.”

By 1962, the company was the largest builder of single family homes in Indiana.

“Gene was absolutely a role model to me,” said Barrett. “He defined leadership.”

“Necessity made us lean and sharp,” Glick wrote in his autobiography. “We had to win or go bankrupt, and that’s a great incentive.”

The bulk of Gene and Marilyn Glick’s fortune has been used to fund civic projects and charitable organizations around Central Indiana. In 1982, they established the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Family Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the state.

Among other accomplishments:

  • Established The Glick Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation
  • Established The Glick Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis (JFGI)
  • Major benefactor of Jewish causes, including JFGI and a number of programs and services
  • Pro-100 mentoring program, administered by the Children’s Bureau was among Glick’s favorites; Created in 1981, Pro-100 offers paid summer internships for disadvantaged youth
  • Served on numerous professional, civic and philanthropic boards
  • National Housing Hall of Fame
  • Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame Laureate
  • Received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Butler University in 1989
  • Received Sagamore of the Wabash award from governors Robert Orr (1982), Evan Bayh (1992) and Joe Kernan (2005)
  • Named Indiana Living Legend in 2002

Glick was a member of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. He was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Marilyn Koffman Glick, in 2012.

He is survived by four daughters: Marianne Glick (Mike Woods), Arlene Grande (Thomas), Alice Meshbane (Andrew) and Lynda Schwartz (Mark). He is also survived by his many grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at Indiana University School of Medicine.