When Larry Glueck died Nov. 29, Steamboat Springs lost a valued member of the community to cancer. As family and friends prepare to celebrate his life this week, they remember a man who touched their lives and many others.
“My dad always believed in me and always believed that I could do whatever I wanted,” said Larry’s son Alex Glueck. “It was that confidence he had in me to go and do whatever, and to do it with steam, that helped me accomplish the things I did.”
A celebration of life will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at Howelsen Hill. If weather permits, guests will meet outside in view of the ski jumps for a tribute to Larry, who was a 30-year volunteer and national ski jumping judge.
Alex said he shared a lot of things in common with his father including a love for hiking, camping and skiing. When Alex, who spent nine years on the U.S. Ski Team, started competing internationally, it allowed the father and son to travel the world together.
“Music was always a big thing for us, and we shared that,” Alex said. “He took me to my first show, maybe I was 11 or 12 years old. I’m not sure how old I was, but I was young and we went to Vail to see The Allman Brothers (Band). That was cool pretty because I went down on the back of his motorcycle.”
That was one of many concerts Alex and Larry enjoyed together. In 1994, Alex went with his father to see the Grateful Dead, Larry’s favorite band, and Larry took Alex and a group of friends to see Metallica at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater a few years later.
“It was a year before Jerry Garcia died, and it was really special to do that with him when I was a kid,” Alex said. “Then, when I was older, he took me and my friends to our first concert that we chose, Metallica, when we were 15. He sat on the other side of the stadium in a different section, so we were just by ourselves. It was really cool.”
Alex said his father passed along many life lessons that Alex carries with him today.
“He was a really honest guy, an ethical guy, and that was really important to him,” Alex said. “He taught me that doing the right thing, no matter how inconvenient or how detrimental it might be to oneself, was important.”
His father also stressed the importance of giving back. Alex said his father was an active member of the Lions Club, and Alex still remembers being a part of the Lion’s Club’s Christmas tree sales and serving coffee and doughnuts at the annual Balloon Rodeo for years.
Alex also said his father always helped people whenever he could, and his dad would have cash in the center console of his car for anyone who might approach him asking for help. Alex never saw his father say no.
Many people in Steamboat Springs remember Larry as a lawyer who spent more than 30 years practicing law. Larry’s wife of 46 years, Maggie, said that her husband was a legal aide in Denver and went on to become a defense attorney. Eventually, he migrated to bankruptcy law because he could help people in that field.
“The reason he did bankruptcy law was because there weren’t any other people doing bankruptcy law,” Maggie said. “He believed in helping the little person, and he would say, ‘People make mistakes and they get themselves into a hole that they can’t get out of. I can help them get out with dignity and respect.’”
Retired Routt County judge James Garrecht arrived in Steamboat Springs about the same time as the Gluecks, and it didn’t talk long for Larry to make an impression.
“When Larry came to town, I was a deputy district attorney and he had a couple of cases with me,” Garrecht wrote in a statement. “One of the funny things I remember about Larry was that although he always wore a coat and tie to court, he always wore tennis shoes. You could always tell that Larry was a casual and liberal guy.”
Garrecht said Larry provided a valuable service to the community because he was one of a very few attorneys who practiced bankruptcy law.
“Bankruptcy law is more than just filing papers,” Garrecht said. “This is often an emotional and stressful time for clients where an attorney provides comfort, relief and guidance … Larry helped many clients though this difficult time and process.”
Maggie and Larry met when they were students at Michigan State University. Maggie said the two had a strong connection from the start and began dating in college. The two eventually moved to Florida, where Maggie worked as a teacher and Larry decided to pursue a law degree.
Maggie said that as they moved forward, neither one was ready to settle down. She left to take a teaching position in Europe, and Larry continued to chase his law degree. One day, Larry called Maggie in Europe and asked her to come back and marry him.
Maggie returned and the two were married in 1976, embarking on 46-year journey that led the couple to Denver, where they lived for four years before moving to Steamboat Springs in 1981, where the couple quickly blended in with the community.
Larry was able to get his practice off the ground, and Maggie stepped into the Steamboat Springs School District. Alex arrived in 1982 and the couple began building their life in the shadow of Mount Werner.
In Steamboat, Larry fell in love with Tae Kwon Do, and in 1990, after attaining the status of Tae Kwon Do Black Belt Second Dan, he discovered T’ai Chi Ch’uanan, an art he would practice for the rest of his life.
Friend Ozzie Townes remembered being introduced to Larry at a class in Oak Creek in the early 1980s before the program moved to Steamboat Springs several years later. Townes said the two found a common bond in the arts that formed the foundation of their friendship.
“We went we went to China, and we climbed the Great Wall,” Townes recalled. “Larry counted the stairs with a system that he had used in his fingers by assigning a value to his fingers. Like every time he counted say 100 steps, he would fold a finger or something … I don’t know what he did, but Larry counted the stairs.”
The group Larry traveled with visited the hometown of their master, Tung Kai Ying, and performed in front of thousands of people while there. Over the years, Larry studied and attended weekend retreats and weeklong camps, learning from Master Tung Kai Ying and his son Master Tung Chen Wei. Larry often brought what he learned back to Steamboat Springs and taught it to students here.
“Larry really inspired a lot of people,” longtime friend Liz Taintor said.
She still remembers traveling to Los Angeles in Larry’s car for one of the first trips the group made to China in 1999.
“I remember the first time we drove to L.A. in Larry’s car to meet everybody else and take the plane to China,” Taintor said. “He has a warm, cheerful presence, and he had a lot of different groups of friends. He knew a lot of people, and he was into a lot of different things and was just an easygoing, laidback kind of guy that always had fun.”
Larry traveled the globe, learning, practicing and teaching the art. His friend Terry Mikolaiczik, who now lives in California, said that Glueck was a big part of the T’ai Chi culture and was a leader in the Steamboat group.
“He played a major role and definitely kept it going in Steamboat Springs,” Mikolaiczik said. “He was a Pied Piper that just drew everybody together in good spirits around the campfires at night at these camps. He was as wise as anybody.”
Maggie said her husband’s passion for T’ai Chi may have been one of his greatest passions, but he also loved to read, travel and take care of those he loved.
Many of the couple’s vacations were spent with Larry and Maggie’s family, and the couple often traveled to watch Alex compete as a member of the U.S. Nordic combined team.
Alex retired from the U.S. Nordic combined team in 2010. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife Molly and their sons Colton and Charlie.
“He was so determined to get better,” Maggie said of Larry when he fell ill. “He said, ‘I need to get better because I need to take care of my two grandsons. I want to watch them grow up.”
In addition to his family, Larry leaves behind many longtime friends in the Steamboat Springs community who remember him as a caring, generous and helpful person.
Todd Wilson got to know Larry when Alex was a still member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Wilson said Larry’s commitment to the sport and club never wavered, even after Alex went on to become a member of the U.S. Nordic combined team or when Alex left the sport completely.
“It just seemed like he was always part of the club,” Wilson said. “He was always there when you needed him. He was a problem-solver. He had such a good attitude, was positive and he was a champion for our club.”
Family friend Mitch Clementson said that he spent a lot of time camping and hanging out with Larry and Larry touched the community in many ways.
“We just spent a lot of time together throughout the years,” Clementson said. “So, I miss him. I miss them coming to the house with a smile on his face. I miss him wondering what everybody was doing. So yeah, he’s going to be missed.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.