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Terry Glenn

March 15, 1923 - August 14, 2022

Terry Glenn, 99, died peacefully at home Sunday, 14 August, 2022, in Portland, Oregon, with nieces Kathryn and Gillian at her side. She was born March 15, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois, to Grosvenor E. ”Gene” and Harriet (Weiland) Glenn, the eldest of three children. Her brother Grosvenor E. “Grov” Glenn preceded her in death; her sister Helen F. “Gilly” (Lloyd) Burlingham survives her, as do her nieces Ann (Jason Parker), Gillian (Sariya Chullasavok), and Kathryn Burlingham, and grandnephew Henry Grosvenor Parker-Burlingham and grandniece Amina Glenn Chullasavok, as well as numerous cousins.


A 1940 graduate of Senn High, Terry attended Northwestern University, where she was the first woman to graduate from the then-Technological Institute in 1946 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Initially she had been refused entry to the school, as a woman, but took math and physics courses until she was able to switch. Women engineers were enough of a novelty that the Chicago Tribune wrote an article about this “first girl graduate” in 1946, and in 1952 included her in a story about women engineers: “These designing women really are engineers!”


Terry’s life-long interest in aviation led to her father taking her to meet Amelia Earhart when she was a girl. During WW2, Glenn worked in a munitions plant inspecting armor-piercing bullets:  she used the money she earned to take flying lessons, with the goal of joining the Women’s Air Corps. She did earn a private pilot license, but did not achieve joining the WACs.


While working at her first engineering job, her colleague Mary Booth invited her to join Irving and Exy Johnson’s world cruise, in which they circumnavigated the world in the brigantine Yankee over the course of eighteen months, from 1947-1949. The voyage changed Terry’s life, sparking an interest in wide-ranging travel, photography, and a passion for sailing. The voyage included stops at Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Galapagos, South Africa, and many others along the way, documented by the crew’s photographs, all of which were sent directly to the National Geographic for two articles, and in Exy Johnson’s book about the voyage, _Yankee’s Wander-World_. Glenn also contributed a photo essay to the Chicago Sunday Tribune in 1948.


Upon returning to the US, Glenn continued sailing, an avocation which led to her long employment at the Chicago firm Greeley and Hansen after meeting one of its partners via sailing.  She specialized there in designing water treatment plants, eventually retiring to become a consultant in the field for a further number of years. She continued to sail, in various places around the world, and on Lake Michigan with her Dolphin, as well as her main boat: a Penguin, a sailing dinghy with which she frequently raced from the Columbia Yacht Club. An active member of the club, she won several regattas in the small boat.


Glenn joined the Society of Women Geographers, an organization founded 1925 when the likes of the renowned Explorers Club refused women entry. The group was formed for women who traveled extensively and contributed to the world’s knowledge; it awarded its first gold medal, to Amelia Earhart, in 1933. Terry Glenn was an active member of the Chicago chapter, often serving as an officer and hosting meetings. There and elsewhere she gave slideshows about her Yankee world cruise and other sailing trips.


Terry took a strong interest in the Chicago community, becoming a life member of the Art Institute, volunteering with a tree keepers’ group and at a nature preserve. She was an avid sportswoman, from competing in speed skating with the Peirce School Playground Skating Club in the 1940s to teaching skiing for Evanston’s recreation department in 1961, traveling in the US and Europe for downhill skiing, and also enjoying cross-country skiing. Once when the city transportation systems were shut down by snow, she skiied along the Michigan lake shore the several miles from her home to work.


She joined  the American Water Works Association in 1959, receiving a life member status award in 1989. She and her sister Gilly Burlingham were recognized for their World War II “Rosie the Riveter” factory work by the Washington (State) Women in Trades, who included the sisters in their 2019 wall calendar, Women of Mettle.


Terry moved to Rogers Park with her parents in the 1970s, finally moving to Portland, Oregon in 2013. She continued to travel, rounding off visiting all fifty states by finally going to Arkansas, as well as her last few overseas trips, to Australia, New Zealand, and Myanmar, with niece Kathryn, and attending Society of Women Geographer triennial meetings. After aqua cremation, a memorial gathering will be held in Chicago at a future date. Memorials to The Nature Conservancy.

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