• May 16, 2022

John Glenn, Astronaut, Senator Dies at 95

glenn

John Glenn, who was the first man to orbit the Earth in 1962 and who took his last flight into space in 1998 at age 77.   After leaving the space program, Glenn entered into politics and served as a Senator from Ohio for 24 years.  His body will lie in state at Ohio State University and will be taken from there to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

He made that flight in his 24th and final year in the U.S. Senate, from whence he launched a short-lived bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. Along the way, Glenn became moderately wealthy from an early investment in Holiday Inns near Disney World and a stint as president of Royal Crown International.

In one of his last public appearances, Glenn, with Annie by his side, sat in the Port Columbus airport terminal on June 28 as officials renamed it in his honor — the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

In addition to his world-famous career in aviation and aerospace, Glenn had a relationship with that particular airport that is likely second to none. Glenn, who turned 8 the month that Port Columbus opened in July 1929, recalled asking his parents to stop at the airport so he could watch the planes come and go while he was growing up in New Concord, 70 miles east of Columbus.

Glenn recalled “many teary departures and reunions” at the airport’s original terminal on Fifth Avenue during his time as a military aviator during World War II. He and his wife Annie, who had been married 73 years, later kept a small Beechcraft plane at Lane Aviation on the airport grounds for many years, and he only gave up flying his own plane at age 90.

Glenn continued to fly until he was 90 years old.

Raised in New Concord, where he and Annie both went to Muskingum College, Glenn aspired to be a medical doctor, but World War II sidetracked that ambition and launched a life of uncommon achievement and bravery. At age 8, he took his first ride in an open-cockpit airplane and ended up virtually living life in the sky, continuing to fly until 2011 when he put up for sale the twin-engine Beech Baron he had owned since 1981.

“I miss it,” Glenn told The Dispatch in 2012 “I never got tired of flying.”

Glenn flew 149 combat missions in World War II and Korea, where his wingman and eventual lifelong friend was baseball legend Ted Williams. In Korea, Glenn earned the nickname “Old Magnet Ass” due to his skill in landing his airplane under any condition, even after it was riddled with bullets and had blown tires.

Born not far from New Concord in Cambridge on July 18, 1921, Glenn and his parents moved about 10 miles west in 1923 to New Concord. His father was a plumber and his mother a teacher who joined a social group called the Twice 5 Club, which got together once a month. Another couple in the club had a daughter, Annie Castor, who was a year older than Glenn, and the two toddlers often shared a playpen while their parents played cards.

Their relationship evolved into a quintessential American love story, with the spark between them first igniting when they were in junior high school.

“To write a story about either of them, if it doesn’t include the other, then it just isn’t complete,” their daughter, Lyn, told The Dispatch in 2007. She and her brother, David, a California doctor, survive.

John and Annie were married on April 6, 1943, and the next January, as they held each other searching for something to say as he prepared to ship out for combat in the South Pacific, John said, “I’m just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum.”

From that day on, she kept a gum wrapper in her purse.
To many with disabilities, Annie became a heroine in her own right as she struggled to conquer near-debilitating stuttering.

 

Related post