Patricia “Pat” Glass, whose sharp wit and passion for public service propelled her into a long and successful career in local politics, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, September 1st in Bradenton. She was 93.
Pat was born on May 2, 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio to Alexander and Beatrice Corbett. After high school, she attended two years of undergraduate school at Kent State University and then transferred to Cleveland Business College. It was there that she met Henry “Hank” Glass who would become Pat’s best friend and husband of 61 years (1949 - 2010).
After serving in World War II, Hank was discharged from the U.S. Navy and later married his beloved Pat in 1949. Before long Hank and Pat had 5 children. First came Michael followed by Mary, then there was Martin, Tom and finally Dianne. In 1955 the young family moved to Siesta Key where Hank worked with a business entrepreneur to form Visioneering Company. Forever volunteering and supporting the community, Pat worked with the PTA and created the first library at Martha’s Catholic School in Sarasota, where all 5 of the children attended.
In 1960 the family moved to a historic Spanish style home in Whitfield Estates that remains with Daughter Dianne, an acupuncture physician and wellness professional to this day. As the children got older Pat resumed her education, becoming the first graduate of the University of South Florida’s Independent Studies bachelor’s degree program. Pat (45) and her older Son Michael (21) a retired CPA, received their diplomas on the same day from USF in 1972. She then obtained a Master of Arts degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of South Florida.
She was driven to care for the elderly and in the mid-1970s she began a career in public service as chief of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s Division of Aging. That work continued closer to home as she helped local Meals on Wheels deliver food to Bradenton seniors, and led the church choir at her parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. Along the way Pat became known as a vocal and principled advocate for those in need.
Pat decided to run for public office in the late 1970s at the urging of friends and family. As always, she had the full support of her best friend Hank. Son Martin, a gifted artist and cartoonist supported Pat on all her political campaigns. She had already accomplished much in public service by then but her biggest successes would come as Manatee County’s first female County Commissioner in 1978.
She quickly made her mark on the job.
Pat was drawn to helping those most in need, leading committees and workgroups dedicated to improving the condition and affordability of housing for Manatee County residents. She was instrumental in creating the agency that would become Turning Points and the Galvano One Stop Center to serve the homeless. Recognizing an opportunity to provide many of the same homeless people with health care service, Pat helped bring about the sale of Manatee Memorial Hospital in the mid-1980s. The proceeds from the sale of the hospital -- known locally as “the corpus” -- covered the costs of indigent healthcare for more than three decades.
She also focused on causes to help the mentally ill and those battling substance addiction. She lobbied the state legislature for funds to build a nonprofit hospital that would become Manatee Glens, and later Centerstone which today helps thousands of residents with mental and behavioral health challenges.
Pat’s career in public service was not defined by self-aggrandizement and one-upmanship. Instead, she was known for having style and grace, for carefully choosing her words and placing them in the correct moments. She was the embodiment of dignity, integrity and selflessness.
That service and the example she set benefited friends, family and coworkers. Her efforts also served hundreds of thousands of parents and children she would never even see. In the 1990s she helped establish the Children’s Services dedicated millage, a special tax was to become the most significant social service funding for children’s and families in Manatee County history. Countless local residents have benefited from the services and programs sustained by the Children’s Services fund.
Social causes were Pat’s first passion, but water resources and the environment were a close second. She served on the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, and on the Board of Governors for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. She was a founding member of three National Estuary Programs. Editorial boards praised Pat for her environmental leadership, foresight, wisdom that helped ensure water resources were used responsibly.
In 2006, after more than a quarter century on the Board, Pat Glass retired as a County Commissioner. The end of her political career gave way to a new period of awards and accolades for a lifetime filled with achievement. Daughter, Mary Glass joined the Manatee Education Foundation with Pat’s prompting that same year and remains the President 14 years later.
In 2009 the Manatee County Rural Health Services Foundation recognized Pat with the Edgar H. Price Lifetime Achievement Award given to those who have made a significant impact in the health and overall welfare of Manatee County community. She received the Herald of Hope award by the West Coast Aids Coalition in 2014 for her lasting contributions to the medical needs of AIDS patients.
Manatee County’s character transformed greatly during Pat’s time on the County Commission. She helped the local government keep pace with a population that doubled during her three decades in office. She was an instrumental force in building public facilities such as the downtown Manatee County Administrative Center, a storm-hardened Public Safety Center, and the Manatee County Detention Center bordered to the north by the road that bears her name, Pat Glass Boulevard. She helped bring about the acquisition and restoration of the Crosley Estate, a seaside home built by Powel Crosley Jr., one of America’s radio pioneers.
Pat was also on the County Commission that approved construction of a new downtown Judicial Center complex which rises taller than any other building in Bradenton. The building casts a long shadow on an alleyway lined with the traditional footprints in cement from dozens of local legends: the Manatee County Distinguished Citizens of the Year. Among the footprints is a pair of high heel prints belonging to Manatee County’s 2011 Distinguished Citizen of the Year, Pat Glass.
In 2018, 12 years after Pat Glass retired from public service, the County Commission named its meeting chambers in her honor. Dozens of family, friends and colleagues from her many years in public service attended the naming of the Honorable Patricia M. Glass Chambers. A mural and marker in her honor recognize “a consensus builder whose leadership brought about significant advancements for local health care, affordable housing, environmental protection and drinking water resources for Manatee County residents.”
Pat devoted the county employees of Manatee County government and she often fought hard to protect and support their efforts. She dearly loved her friends and would have regular dinners with a close circle of colleagues over the years.
Patricia Glass will be laid to rest at Fogartyville Cemetery alongside her beloved husband Henry and their son Thomas (who passed in 1991). She is survived by four children, Michael, Mary, Martin and Dianne; four grandchildren: Kathryn Mountford, (John), Jenna Glass, Nicole Krebs and Alex Glass; and one great grandson, Noah Mountford. Pat’s Brother Thomas Corbett passed in 2020.
Announcements for a Celebration of Life are forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Manatee Education Foundation, 1023 Manatee Ave. West, Suite 215, Bradenton Florida, 34205. A Pat Glass Memorial Migrant Scholarship will be awarded annually through the Foundation. Condolences may also be sent to Griffith Cline Funeral Home at email@example.com
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