MANATEE — Henry “Hank” Glass’s time was near.
It was Wednesday morning, his family was gathered around his bed, praying for him at Riviera Palms Rehabilitation Center in Palmetto.
Then his wife, Pat, the former Manatee County commissioner, began singing. First the “Our Father,” then the “Ave Maria.”
But Dianne, the youngest of their five children, asked, What about baseball? A Cleveland native, Mr. Glass was a lifelong Indians fan.
“So there I am in tears and I sang, ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame,’” Pat Glass said Thursday. “And as I sang it, it became more significant: ‘ ... and I don’t care if I never get back.’ It was a farewell song. That spells it out.”
Mr. Glass died Thursday morning. He was 89. His passing ended a courageous two-year battle with a brain tumor.
“It’s been a long haul,” Pat Glass said. “He had two good years and quality of life and it just happened. He was a quiet, unassuming man, a great mind, a great spirit. He was a fighter.”
“He didn’t want to miss a moment of life,” Dianne Glass said. “He was always inspirational, always there to help us,” said daughter Mary, director of the Manatee Education Foundation.
A World War II Navy veteran, Mr. Glass valued being an American, getting an education and in women securing larger roles in business and politics.
Like his wife, for example.
“He loved giving me reminders of things I needed to do,” she said. “The first was, ‘The kids are leaving the nest. It’s time for you to go back to school.’ So I went back for my PhD.”
The next reminder?
“The county dropped a backhoe in our driveway, and he couldn’t get the commissioner,” she recalled. “So he said, ‘It’s time for you to run for office.’”
Pat Glass served 28 years on the county commission.
“He was a strong man for women being able to do what they wanted to do — after they have five kids,” she said, laughing.
Carol Whitmore appreciated what Mr. Glass meant to his wife’s political career.
“Hank always let her do her thing. She’s a strong female leader and he knew that,” said the current county commissioner, noting her husband, Andre, also supports her public endeavors. “It’s different when you are a strong leader and a woman and you’ve got a solid rock behind you.”
Those words resonated with Vernon DeSear, a longtime friend to Mr. Glass and his wife.
“Watching them, what you saw was Hank being the strength behind the public figure,” said the Manatee Memorial Hospital vice president.
“No matter what decisions were made, Hank was always right there to encourage her. Theirs was a wonderful example of true partnership in life.”
Mr. Glass was the chief financial officer with Loral Corp., a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church, the VFW and was a master gardener.
Besides his wife and daughters, Mr. Glass’s survivors include sons Michael and Martin Glass, sister Marie Stein, grandchildren Katie Glass, Jenna and Alex Glass and Nicole Krebs.
A funeral Mass will be held 11 a.m. Monday at Holy Cross.
Burial will be in Fogartyville Cemetery.
Griffith-Cline Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements.