Remembering longtime columnist Glen Dodson, dead at age 81
Glen Dodson, who wrote columns and articles for The Advocate for the last three decades, died Saturday at his home in Cleveland after a lengthy illness. He was 81.
In his column “Musings,” Dodson shared his favorite memories -- from his storied career in radio to his years as a journalist and photographer.
One of his favorite column topics was fading Americana. Though he was never mired in the past, he often lamented the loss of customs that once defined the American way of life.
Dodson was born on Oct. 9, 1935, in Cameron, Texas, to parents Thomas Edward Dodson and Irma Cleo Rhodes Dodson. He graduated from Yoe High School in Cameron before attending the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, the former name of Texas A&M University.
A lack of funding caused him to drop out and pursue an education in radio engineering at a technical school in Dallas.
As a former city councilman, past board president of the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce and former member of the Cleveland Lions Club, Dodson developed a vast knowledge of Cleveland’s history and its residents, many of whom became subjects in his writing.
Dodson’s first job in radio was short-lived. In 1956 he began working on a transmitter watch at KUNO, a Spanish language station in Corpus Christi. Later that same year, he came to Cleveland to work for KVLB Radio. In 1959, he moved to Jasper where he was part-owner of KTXJ but it was not long before he was lured back to Cleveland to continue working for KVLB.
“He mentored a lot of guys at the Cleveland radio station,” said Dodson’s son, James. “He also met a lot of musicians. It seemed to be the way it was back then. The radio announcers knew a lot of the singers and musicians because they had to go out and promote the albums themselves. They didn’t have producers to go market it for them.”
It was through the radio station that Dodson met his wife of 59 years, Peggy, who was working as a school teacher for Cleveland ISD.
“As luck would have it, he was on the radio station one day and made a grammatical error and my mother called to tell him about it,” Dodson said. “They ended up dating and married on May 27, 1957, at the home of her parents, Ike and Mary Biddle.”
When the Cleveland station sold in 1987, the new owners made many changes, said James, who worked alongside his dad at the station.
“When they sold, they did not keep either of us. He did sales for a while here and there before finally going to work for local newspapers, going back and forth between The Advocate and the Illustrated Paper Boy,” James said.
When asked how he describes his father’s writing style, James likened him to Mark Twain.
“To me he seemed to have a way of retelling stories much like Mark Twain. He had a way of hooking you and reeling you in. He had a special way of connecting to people. I suspect that most of his stories are probably true, but there have been some people who have said to me, ‘Well, I don’t really remember that the way your Dad does,’” James said with a laugh.
When he was struck by pancreatic cancer six years ago, Dodson shared his experiences with his readers, later offering advice on the types of treatments that had prolonged his life by shrinking his tumor.
In his last column, published in the Jan. 4, 2017 print editions of the Cleveland Advocate, Eastex Advocate and Dayton News, Dodson explained how his health problems had forced him into hospitals twice in recent months and how he was adapting to the increasing limitations on his health.
In the end, it wasn’t the cancer that claimed him.
“It was his respiratory problems more than anything. He did not want to suffer and was ready. He said he was excited about seeing Jesus,” James said.
Dodson leaves behind his beloved wife, Peggy; their sons, John, James and Sam; 10 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a host of friends.
A funeral for Dodson will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at First Baptist Church in Cleveland with services under the direction of Pace-Stancil Funeral Home. Later that afternoon he will be laid to rest alongside the graves of his parents and brother in Cameron. No visitation is planned.