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Glen Barbaras knows something about commitment. After all, at the age of 94½, Glen is the longest, continuous, fulltime member of the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at 33½ years and counting! Since the early days of the Academy of Lifelong Learning, Glen has been a stalwart supporter of one of the country’s most vibrant and high-performing lifelong learning institutes.
Born in Milwaukee in 1919, Glen received his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Marquette University. He was awarded a teaching fellowship at the University of Chicago while working toward his Ph.D., which led to his life-changing work on the Manhattan Project. He spent three years on the Project, including one year after the war was over.
Like so many, Glen and his late wife, Geraldine worked for DuPont, initially at the Cleveland, Ohio plant where Geraldine served as one of DuPont’s first female chemists. In 1950, they were transferred to Wilmington, Delaware and Geraldine resigned her position when they welcomed their first child. Glen continued what would eventually be a 31-year career at DuPont, working at the experimental station in Wilmington and even served as a patent assistant for a year!
In 1979, Glen attended a meeting to determine the feasibility of a University of Delaware-affiliated institute that would offer continuing education courses for retirees. This meeting would introduce Glen to a new set of roles that included educator, fundraiser, and leader in addition to returning to the classroom as a student. On February 6, 1980, the first day of classes, Glen was one of the first students to receive instruction at the Academy. (Fun fact: Glen was one of three of Osher’s first presidents who all attended the same high school in Milwaukee.)
Geraldine’s involvement with Osher focused mostly on instruction in chamber music performance (though she did teach basic chemistry as well). She arranged music for whatever instruments were played by those enrolled in the courses, and the joy with which she taught these courses inspired her students and all who attended the many performances.
When asked what keeps him coming back, Glen says, “Osher keeps me active, stimulated, and associated with others. I really like the current events courses and enroll in them every semester, and of course the people here are important to me too.” During his tenure, Glen has given over 500 lectures, and finally decided to “retire” as an instructor last year. “This was a major influence in both my life and my wife’s life. It enriched our lives over many years. If you’re participating, you’re drawn in. That’s how my wife and I felt a part of this. Osher is successful, useful, and needed for the community.”
Glen and Geraldine’s impactful experiences at Osher moved Glen to make a commitment to benefit Osher through a charitable gift annuity that pays him an income for his lifetime, as well as a bequest in his wife’s will. . Ultimately the gifts will support Osher-Wilmington’s endowment and a fund for chamber music performances by professional groups. “I want to get others to contribute to as well. We are so fortunate to have this outstanding program available to us and I want to make sure it is here for many years to come. Anyone who has participated in the Osher experience should give back – even if they give to other areas at Delaware. It’s just such a special place.”