Lester G. Glick, D.D.S., Cultural Leader and Advocate, 19102003


lesterWhen Lester Glick stepped down as founding president of the Cleveland Area Arts Council in 1976, he received a unique gift: a composition commissioned in his honor from 1966 Cleveland Arts Prize winner Donald Erb. The piece, Trio, was premiered on Cleveland's public television station, WVIZ Channel 25, by a distinguished ensemble consisting of world-renowned violinist Isaac Stern, noted Cleveland pianist Eunice Podis and Cleveland Orchestra principal percussionist Richard Weiner. The imaginative score incorporates a quote from Mozart and the spelling of Glick’s name in musical notation.

Following the performance, Glick said he felt like Prince Esterhazy, illustrious patron of 18th-century composer Franz Josef Haydn. Glick, however, was not an elitist providing music for the aristocracy. A dedicated volunteer who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, he promoted projects that helped make the arts available to the entire community.

“I like starting things,” he told television host and Cleveland Press associate editor Herb Kamm. Besides starting the local arts council, he helped launch the Cleveland Summer Arts Festival, Lake Erie Opera Theatre and Ohio Chamber Orchestra. Although none of these organizations has survived, each played a significant role in the growth and development of Cleveland’s arts and cultural scene.

“Lester understood the missions of community arts organizations at a time when few people did,” wrote Nina Freedlander Gibans, 2009 Cleveland Arts Prize winner and executive director of the Cleveland Area Arts Council. “He knew the national impact of community arts and stayed in touch with leaders in other cities.  . . .Lester was also instrumental in developing Ohio’s advocacy organization, Ohio Citizens for the Arts.”

Born in Cleveland in 1910, Glick studied violin at the Cleveland Music School Settlement (CMSS) in his youth and later headed the Cleveland chapter of the Society for Strings. “I wasn’t good enough to make it as a violinist, so they made me president of the board,” he said of his long tenure as a CMSS trustee.

A graduate of Western Reserve University’s dental school, Glick practiced dentistry for 10 years in Cleveland and served as a U.S. Army dental officer in China during World War II. When he returned home, he switched careers and joined his father-in-law’s business, Aetna Cleaning Contractors. As a successful business executive, he was able to devote more time to the arts, welfare and social services. During his two terms as CMSS board president, he championed the establishment of a music therapy program and negotiated an affiliation with Rainey Institute, a central-city settlement house dedicated to positive change through education and participation in the arts. In appreciation for his lasting contributions, the Cleveland Music School Settlement named its elegant performance space the Lester Glick Recital Hall.

Several of Dr.Glick’s innovative ideas were generated in brain-storming sessions with community leaders who gathered at the Moreland Hills home of Glick and his wife, psychologist Ruth Glick. The couple left Cleveland in 1993 and settled in Florida. Later, they moved to New England to be close to their son, Thomas, a history professor at Boston University. Glick died on March 27, 2003, in Providence, Rhode Island.  “He always gave the Settlement free window washes,” Settlement extension director Richard Kauffman told the Plain Dealer’s obituary writer. “Whenever there were arguments, he was the calm among the storm.”

—Wilma Salisbury


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