He was a true gentleman with a sense of humor.
By Adina Pollan, JBA board of governors
“Once more, with joy, O my home I may meet/ Once more ye fair, flowr’y meadows I greet/ My Pilgrim’s staff henceforth may rest/ Since Heaven’s sweet peace is within my breast.”
“The Pilgrim’s Chorus,” Tannhäuser, Richard Wagner
On Sunday, July 7, the Hon. Paul M. Glenn passed away.
After more than 25 years of service on the federal bankruptcy bench, Judge Glenn was more than merely a well-regarded and respected jurist. He was a true gentleman, perhaps one of the last of his caliber.
Of course, he had a distinguished professional career. Judge Glenn graduated from Florida State University, cum laude, where he was selected to Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Eta Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Gold Key.
Aside from his intellect, Judge Glenn also was a collegiate athlete, having attended FSU on a basketball scholarship. During his senior year, he was named Most Valuable Player on the varsity basketball team.
He remained a true FSU fan during his tenure on the bench, even celebrating his rivals’ failures as gleefully as he would his own team’s successes.
After college, Judge Glenn graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1970, where he was president of the law school student body.
Upon graduation, he practiced corporate, commercial, banking and insurance law in Jacksonville and Miami during the ‘70s. In the ‘80s, he served as chief executive and chief administrative officer of two insurance companies and in 1984, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Association of Domestic Insurance Companies.
He then returned to practice in the early ‘90s, focusing on corporate and commercial law and litigation until he was appointed a U.S. bankruptcy judge in 1993.
Initially, Judge Glenn served on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. In June 2008, Judge Glenn transferred to the Jacksonville Division.
He was chief bankruptcy judge for the Middle District from March 2003 to September 2011.
Judge Glenn presided over such notable cases as Celotex Corp., Amelia Island Plantation and Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa.
In 2013, he was appointed to the Committee on the Budget of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
An avid learner, Judge Glenn yearned to study as much as he could.
When he traveled every week from Tampa to Jacksonville from 1993 to 2008, as his family continued to live in Jacksonville, he liked to listen to audiotapes to learn more on a multitude of subjects.
In 2006, he was listening to a series of tapes on Russian nationalism and was so moved by the lectures that he wrote a memorandum on a Russian Easter overture that he shared with his friends and colleagues.
He called the overture something “worth becoming familiar with,” stating that it “begins softly, as does the day (‘Prayerful, chantlike winds intone this morning hymn, imbuing it with an ancient, Gregorian quality’), weaves the four hymns into one overture, and finishes in a full and rich finale (‘A jubilant, ringing, cacophonous finale would depict the ecstatic joy of Christ’s resurrection at the heart of the Easter celebration’).”
Judge Glenn also loved to share other memoranda on his frequent trips from Tampa to Jacksonville, fondly calling the path he took and the sights he witnessed his “Cross-Florida Trail Guide.”
He would circulate the memoranda with helpful information such as “Distance: 200 miles,” “Travel time: 3 hours 30 minutes (for good citizens),” and how he broke down his journey—“Three legs: Tampa to Ocala, via I-75, approx. 100 miles; Ocala to I-10, via U.S. 301, approx. 80 miles; I-10 into Jax., approx. 20 miles.”
He would impart such wisdom as where the “civilized world can be found,” listing the radio stations with their call letters and frequency, as well as the duration, i.e., “from Exit 61 to Ocala (see Endnote #1).” He would share insights, such as, “Signs along the road indicate that the Highway Patrol can be contacted by dialing *FHP on a cell phone. I have never tried this, however, since I have always been able to attract the FHP without using the code.”
He even recorded amusing finds along the way: “There was a billboard that was put up in the summer of 2002 just north of exit 309 (old exit 62). It was on the right side of the road, nine-tenths (.9) of a mile past the underpass at exit 309. It was a full-size billboard, with yellow background and black lettering. It was taken down in the fall of 2003, but I have to continue to mention it here, because it is simply worth mentioning. I will quote it, because I certainly wouldn’t write this on my own:
WONDER WHAT THE DUMBASS OFFICIALS AT THE DOT ARE UP TO NOW?
HAGEN, HOLSCHUH, STRICKLAND, BURDICK, WAAS.
Log on at www.dumbassdot.com. That’s what it said. Really.”
Judge Glenn was an intensely jovial man, finding humor in everything—always laughing and smiling, and always quick to share a joke or a funny quip.
In one memorandum, he wrote: “And I always have to end with this one. In the summer of 2007 I heard [quoting a country song]: If your phone don’t ring, It’s me, not calling.”
He would share amusing things he would clip from newspapers, such as a comic showing an envelope floating in outer space past Pluto entitled “The Check is In the Mail.”
Judge Glenn also enjoyed sharing his knowledge. He was a featured speaker or panelist at CLE sessions for the American Bar Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute, the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, the American College of Bankruptcy, the Commercial Law League of America, the Turnaround Managers Association, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, The Florida Bar, the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and local Bar associations.
He was a guest lecturer at the University of Florida and Stetson University colleges of law, and at Florida Coastal School of Law.
He was an ardent member of the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court and also a member of its executive council. Serving as president, Judge Glenn consistently presented the new member orientation for several years, as he enjoyed engaging the new members and preparing them for what’s to come over the next year.
Judge Glenn was admired by his peers. Senior Judge Susan Bucklew, with the Middle District of Florida, said, “Judge Glenn brought to the court singular kindness, enduring tranquility and studied intelligence, for which both the court and the community are grateful.”
Lee Ann Bennett, the deputy director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and former clerk of the Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Florida, said, “He was one of the best men I have ever met in my life. Kind, caring, generous.”
Judge Jerry Funk, Bankruptcy Judge for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, stated, “Bill Glenn was a great judge, a good friend, and an esteemed colleague. I will miss him dearly.”
Perhaps what Judge Glenn should most be remembered for, however, was likely the reason he won MVP while playing basketball at FSU. He valued teamwork. Every person in his staff at the court served a crucial role, every person in the courtroom served an integral purpose.
He always strived to find a balance of justice, appreciating each perspective presented, whether creditor, debtor or other party in interest. For all of his wisdom, his most special aspect was how he cherished the human element.
“True worth is in being, not seeming—/ In doing, each day that goes by,/ Some little good—not in dreaming/ Of great things to do by and by./ For whatever men say in their blindness,/ And spite of the fancies of youth,/ There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,/ And nothing so royal as truth.
We get back our mete as we measure—/ We cannot do wrong and feel right,/ Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,/ For justice avenges each slight. . . .
For good lieth not in pursuing,/ Nor gaining of great nor of small,/ But just in the doing, and doing/ As we would be done by, is all.”
“Nobility” by Alice Cary
Adina Pollan is owner of Pollan Legal. Her practice includes bankruptcy and commercial litigation.