Glenn Eure was one of those people that, when you met him, you knew you had made a friend for life.
He passed away in September and on the Outer Banks, a moment of profound sadness came with the news, as though there was a passing of an era. Glenn, however, would discount that belief, pointing out, probably, that the best tribute to him would be to continue his love of art, creativity, and people.
He and his wife Pat ran Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head, its look and construction perhaps as quixotic as Glenn. He built it himself with a friend in the 1970s. The building looks somewhat like a wooden WWII quonset hut; inside the wooden floor like like it was made from scraps of wood left over from construction, nothing ever quite seeming to match.
Over the door hangs the perfect tribute to Glenn. “Future North Carolina Historic Site,” the sign reads.
Glenn delighted in being irreverent. Never disrespectful, but certainly irreverent.
To him, every woman was beautiful and he invariably greeted women with a line that if anyone else delivered it, there would be problems. “Is there a beauty pageant in town,” if more than one woman walked in the Gallery. Or, “Did you take you pretty pills this morning?”
Pat would roll her eyes and walk away, but people seemed to truly enjoy hearing that. And it may be that what he was really saying was “Yes you’re physically beautiful, but there is also an inner beauty to you that I see as well.”
There was a sense of belief in the beauty of the world around us that defined who he was. Glenn was no wide-eyed innocent believing everything was wonderful and beautiful in the world. Rather, he had seen the full panoply of life’s experiences and he chose to see the capacity for good in all of us.
Glenn did not volunteer too much about his personal history. He would talk about growing up in Hawaii and sometimes greet people in the language of the Islands. He had been in the Army, and some of his art celebrated that, but he almost never discussed any of the particulars of his service.
Yet when people from that time in his life came to visit, details would emerge—that he began his career as an enlisted man in the Korean War and retired as a major commanding an artillery battalion. He had been wounded and awarded the purple heart and that he served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
It’s not as though he had rejected his past or had made some decision to suppress it; rather it was as though he had accepted whatever those events were had occurred in the past and used what he experienced to inform who he was. Not define, but inform.
What seemed to inform who he was, in spite of his irreverent and sometimes oddly artistic way of viewing the world, was his faith. And that faith was deep and profound.
If anyone doubts how sincere that faith was, go to Holy Redeemer By the Sea in Kitty Hawk and take the time to truly examine the nave where his Via Crucis—the Stations of the Cross—resides.
Glenn was a remarkably talented artist, but this one work defines him as a true master. It is at once a testament to his vision of the beauty of God and his personal beliefs. The entire project was donated and it took Glenn ten years to complete it. And it took a toll upon him—a spiritual toll. Perhaps because he realized the enormity of the task he was undertaking.
Glenn mentioned a number of times that carving the chapters of the story was emotionally draining. That was especially true when he got to the eleventh station—Christ is nailed to the cross.
To make the depiction as realistic as possible, Glenn used iron nails. In a book written about the experience by Pat, An Artists Way, and in interviews, he spoke of feeling physical pain in the palms of his hand as he drove the nails into the wood.
There are so many aspects of who and what Glenn was that it can be difficult to point to any one thing that he did as the outstanding characteristic. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of Outer Banks artists owe him a debt of gratitude for the direction and guidance he gave. He was one of the founding members of the Dare County Arts Council. Every year he and Pat hosted at the Ghost Fleet Gallery the Dare County Schools Art Show, with artwork from every school in the county, Kindergarten through 12th Grade, on display
In our lives we too rarely meet someone who makes us realize how important it is to just be ourselves, and that in being just ourselves we can make a real difference. Glenn Eure truly made a difference and he did it by always being true to himself.