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Philanthropist and civic leader Alfred R. Glancy III, whom The Detroit News named a Michiganian of the Year in 2005, died Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.

He was 80, according to the Verheyden Funeral Homes website. No cause of death was given.

Mr. Glancy, widely credited with saving the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the early 1990s, was a graduate of Princeton University and the Harvard Business School. He and his wife, Ruby, who survives him, were married 56 years and raised four children in Grosse Pointe Farms. 

Professionally, Mr. Glancy was for many years the chairman of the Michigan Consolidated Gas Co., and later of its parent company, MCN Corp.

But it was his astonishing civic engagement that will likely most be remembered - chairing, often simultaneously, the DSO, Detroit Medical Center and Detroit Renaissance.

Mr. Glancy also served on boards including New Detroit, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Hudson-Webber Foundation, United Way, the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan and the Greater Detroit Partnership Inc. -- to name just a few. 

A 1996 Detroit News profile by business writer Lynn Waldsmith noted that as DSO chairman, Mr. Glancy worked around the clock during the 1993 labor negotiations to reach a contract with the musicians. 

"One night he worked past dawn," Waldsmith wrote, "went home to change clothes, then headed back downtown to chair a meeting of the Detroit Medical Center board. There was a special incentive in doing so -- his wife Ruth is also a DMC director, and it was his first chance to see her in days. 'Whoever invented the all-nighter should be shot,' Glancy said at the time." 

In a statement, the DSO called Mr. Glancy, a board member for 40 years with six of them as chairman, "a generous, passionate, and action-oriented donor. Al helped all of us get our jobs done, both on stage and off, from box office and maintenance staff to our musicians." 

It noted that Mr. Glancy provided funding for the DSO to upgrade technology behind its global webcast series, "Live from Orchestra Hall," as well as to purchase remote-controlled robotic cameras to film the musicians in performance without the distraction of a photographer on stage. 

The orchestra recognized all the contributions from both Mr. Glancy and his wife in 2002 by creating the Ruth Roby and Alfred R. Glancy III Principal Percussion Chair, currently held by Joseph Becker. 

All in all, it was bringing Detroit back to vibrant life, which looked like a long shot 25 years ago, that was the man's lifelong passion. 

Mark Volpe, the DSO's former executive director, told Waldsmith in the 1996 profile that Mr. Glancy chaired the DSO board "not because he enjoys Brahms symphonies, but because he understands the role the orchestra plays in the city." 

Ruby Glancy added, "Al's philosophy is he tries to add value. And if he can't add value, he doesn't want to be involved." 

Both Mr. Glancy and his wife came from Grosse Pointe old money. Mr. Glancy's grandfather was a founder of General Motors' Pontiac division, while his father was a developer who for a while was a co-owner of the Empire State Building in New York. 

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 2 in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Detroit. A reception will follow at the DSO’s Music Box.

Memorial gifts can be given to Princeton University’s Alfred R. Glancy III - Class of 1960 Scholarship Fund, and to the DSO.

mhodges@detroitnews.com 

(313) 222-6021

 

 

 

 

 

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