August 11, 2008, Glenn I. Kirkland, secretary of the Nehemiah Ministries
board of directors, died at his home at
, of complications resulting from dialysis. He was 89, and had been a
resident since 1945.
was born on April 8, 1919, in Hays Borough,
, which later became part of
. His mother, Elizabeth Pollock Kirkland, was a school teacher, and his
father, Emmett Kirkland, a carpenter. He was one of five siblings, and
was their last survivor. During his early teens, Glenn built several
radios capable of receiving short-wave signals, and at 16 earned his
radio amateurs license.
, then earned both bachelors and masters degrees in physics from the
Carnegie Institute of Technology. He also completed the coursework
toward a doctorate in physics, before World War II interrupted his
studies. He moved to
in 1945, and began working for
’s Applied Physics Laboratory. He became a member of their Principal
Professional Staff, and retired in 1984 after 39 years of service. At
APL he helped develop the VT fuse, a supersonic guide missile telemetry
system, the AEGIS weapon system, and also performed missile flight test
1949 Glenn married Grace Mize, an office assistant at the Treasury
Department. They had one child, Evelyn, in 1951, who married Dr. M.
Blaine Smith in 1973. In 1977 at the age of 66, Grace was diagnosed with
Alzheimer's disease and began the slow, inexorable deterioration of her
mental capacities, until she died in 1990. A year later Glenn married
Barbara Shytle Denny, and they have enjoyed seventeen years together.
battle with Alzheimer’s disease inspired Glenn to devote himself
during his retirement years to problems of aging and care-giving. He was
a relentless advocate on behalf of families touched by Alzheimer’s.
With few resources, he initiated support groups throughout
, enabling family caregivers to draw support from one another. He gained
the attention of policy makers in his efforts to promote the development
of supportive services and funding for Alzheimer’s research. In 1977,
he helped found the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of
, then became it’s first president; it became the
chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association when that organization formed a
year later. He helped to organize the Maryland Association of Adult Day
Care Centers and was its first president. Later he served as Secretary
to the Board of Directors of the Maryland Gerontological Association.
greatest contribution to creating public awareness about Alzheimer’s,
though, was his decision to open his private life to documentary
. The award-winning team of William T. Whiteford and Susan Hadary filmed
Glenn and Grace’s journey over seven years of the devastating
progression of the disease. The resulting videos have been called “the
definitive work on the longitudinal study of Alzheimer’s disease,”
and have been shown world-wide as teaching aids in the care of people
with dementia. Glenn became a sought-after speaker to present the films
at workshops and conferences, and a half-hour documentary produced from
this material, “Living with Grace,” aired frequently on public
was a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, a life member of
the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a life member
of the Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and a life member of the
Amateur Radio Relay League. He was also a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and a
long-time member of Fourth Presbyterian Church of Bethesda, Maryland,
serving on their session. He was also secretary of the board of Nehemiah
Ministries, since its inception in 1978.
2001, Glenn and Barbara moved from their home in North Potomac, Maryland
, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, in
. There Glenn helped to organize the
, worked as a cameraman and announcer for Channel 99, and sang with both
choir and the male vocal group “The Balladeers.”
memorial service will be held for Glenn on Sunday, August 31, 2008, at
the Riderwood Village Chapel,
3110 Gracefield Rd.
. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Maryland
Alzheimer’s Association. Earmark your check “The Glenn Kirkland
Fund,” and mail to: Alzheimer’s
1850 York Road
, Suite D,
21093-5142. You may also contribute to them by phone, at 410-561-9099.