Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Everyone has a story to tell

Glen and LaVonne Johnson. Submitted photos

Glen and LaVonne Johnson. Submitted photos

By John Patterson

Everyone has a story, that’s what life is all about from beginning to end. Some stories are more eventful than others. Some have a sad story to relate. Others reveal an exciting one, but everyone has a story.

I have always felt that a person’s life is like a pinball machine. Random effects can redirect you in an instant and many times you’re not aware of the impact these moments will have on your life. In the past, I have been privileged to meet some very interesting people living here.  Many have an interesting story to tell. Often, we don’t even realize what our neighbors have achieved. It may be a war time experience; it may even be a flight around the moon. A veterinarian who was also a Cobra gunship helicopter pilot in Vietnam, or a Colts NFL football kicker – I could go on.

Among our closest family friends are Glen and LaVonne Johnson. The Johnsons have been residents of Marco Island since the early 70’s and they have a great story to tell. Glen and LaVonne have been active in the community and offer regular support to worthy causes including education, music, the arts and their Lutheran Church community. LaVonne has dedicated time and support to the Arts Advisory Committee of Marco Island and served on the Board of Directors for the Marco Island Center of the Arts.

Glen has been a member of the Marco Island Car Club for many years and is a proud owner of a 1936



Ford, a 1990 Rolls Royce and his Marco Island runabout: their cherished Mercedes Smart Car.

As a dedicated member of the Marco Island Car Club, Glen attends a regular monthly breakfast meeting with other local enthusiasts who generally arrive in their vintage and classic cars.

Glen has worked diligently over the past seven years writing his memoirs, A Matter of Trust, encouraged by LaVonne, his family and many friends. Initially the memoirs were intended only for the family. Pressure and friendly persuasion have changed Glen’s  mind.  His memoirs were published by Keller Publishing earlier this year.

Glen did, however, allow some “time out” from his writing to support his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Penguins hockey team.  In his youth, Glen was also an avid baseball player who tried out with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 and 1947.

From a humble beginning as a farm boy in Lake Lillian, Minnesota, Glen rose to the pinnacle of public and private service, never once forgetting the little guy. He achieved success in many areas of his life which led him to Washington DC, New York City, Pittsburgh and eventually, Marco Island.

The selection of quotes following are from Glen’s memoirs and offer a glimpse of the flavor of his story.

Christopher L. Williston, CAE President and CEO of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas:

“Twenty- one years have passed since I first met Glen, and there has not been a single day that I have not thanked the Lord for bringing this gentle man into my life.”

Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice-President of the United States:

“The great gift of life

Honoring a man of distinction.

Honoring a man of distinction.

is friendship and this gift I have received in my friend, Glen Johnson.”

Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States, before a commencement at Bergstrom Air Force Base. “Glen, I’m scheduled to be at Bergstrom Air Force Base tomorrow to speak to 12,000 airmen and raise the Minuteman flag. I may have a Security Council meeting, therefore, I need you to be there, in case I don’t make it. And by the way, I need a speech on the White House wire before 4:00 AM tomorrow. Thanks and keep up the good work, Glen”

I have to include this one. Walter Mondale, Vice President of the United States: 

“Only my friend Glen would dare have his feet on my desk!”

Glen’s first venture at the age of 19 was as the founder and publisher of his hometown newspaper, the Lake Lillian Crier. After 12 years of publication the paper was sold. Glen moved in to the field of government savings bonds which led to a subsequent position as Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury under President Lyndon Johnson.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon moved in as President, Glen’s job was affected through White House restructuring. Glen then joined Motivational Systems, Inc. developing credit card marketing programs to businesses offering credit. Glen was very successful in this position and it would bring him his biggest break in life! Glen says, “A chance encounter changed my life! I was in Minneapolis calling about a bid from Sorenson Printing to produce millions of credit card applications for potential customers. It was through that call that I wound up

Glen and LaVonne’s Smart Car.

Glen and LaVonne’s Smart Car.

affiliated with Federation.”

After a short period with Motivational Systems, Glen joined Federated Investors. “My years of working with Jack Donohue and the Federated family represented the most significant and rewarding years of my working career.”

Glen worked with Federated Investors from 1970 to 1990 as President of Multi-Trust Systems, part of the Federated Securities Corporation. He moved on to become Vice President of Federated Securities Corporation in 1990. (Federated Investors is a $400 billion dollar investment management company.)

A Matter of Trust is the story of Federated Investors. According to Michael T. Higgins, author of How Financial Institutes Can Thrive in the 1990’s: “This company serves as a model for bank management because it reveals the critical disciplines that underpin success in a competitive environment. These disciplines are exhibited in any successful operation.” 

Over the recent years my wife Rose and I have had the pleasure of spending time with these wonderful people, having open and honest chats and sharing many personal matters as well as having lots of fun times.

During our family visits I would ask Glen how his writing was going. He would smile and say “we are getting there” and then discuss some snippet of his story which not only gave me an insight and appreciation of his career, but a glimpse of what this great man achieved.

This is a must read story!

PS: A tip to all local poker players. If Glen Johnson suggests a game, smile, respectfully thank him for the offer, turn round and quickly walk in the opposite direction!

A Matter of Trust can be obtained from all major booksellers and Sunshine Books on Marco Island.

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