Obituary of James J Glasser
James J. (Jim) Glasser, chairman emeritus of Chicago-based GATX, died March 14th at his home in Tucson. He was 88, and split his time between Tucson and the Chicago area.
Active in arts in both Chicago and Tucson, Glasser was a trustee of the Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) at the time of his death. He and his wife of nearly 59 years, Louise, made a leadership gift to TMA in 2017 that was a catalyst for fundraising and renovations that enabled the downtown museum to expand in size by more than 40%. A gallery there bears their name.
Glasser grew up on Chicago’s northwest side, the son of Daniel D. and Sylvia (née Goldstein) Glasser. He was a graduate of Harvard Law School, Yale University, and North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois.
After serving three years as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney straight out of Harvard, Glasser joined what was then known as General American Transportation Corporation, now GATX. His work took him and his family from Chicago to Tucson and on to Northern California before returning to his hometown.
Glasser was appointed president of GATX Leasing in 1971, elected to the board of parent GATX in April 1974 and, six months later at age 40, named its president and chief operating officer. He
became GATX’s CEO and chairman in 1978, positions he held for 18 years until his retirement in 1996.
Besides working for GATX, Glasser was an outside director for B.F. Goodrich, Stone Container, Mutual Trust Life Insurance, and several financial institutions, including Bank of Montreal, Harris Bankcorp, and LaSalle National Bank.
Beside TMA, Glasser was a director of Tucson’s Contemporary Art Society when he died, was a founder of the Western Art Patrons, and was heavily involved with the Center for Creative Photography and the Humanities Seminars Program at the University of Arizona. He also was a life trustee of the University of Chicago, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago. He was a life director of Lake Forest Hospital, where he was a former chairman; a director of the Chicago Horticultural Society and of the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona; and he was on the Field Museum of Natural History's National Board of Trustees as well as a member and founding co-chair of its Collections Committee.
Previously, he served as a trustee/director of several other institutions and organizations, including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Better Government Association, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and Michael Reese Hospital. He helped launch the non-profit advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children.
With Glasser when he died were his wife of nearly 59 years, Louise (née Rosenthal) Glasser, along with their three children: Mary Glasser (Bill Paladino) of Cape Town, South Africa; Emily Glasser (William Susman) of New York City; and Danny Glasser (Melissa Sherak Glasser) of Park City, Utah. Survivors also include a sister, Joyce Glasser of Mount Dora, Florida; eight grandchildren; and three Bedlington Terriers.
A celebration of Jim Glasser’s life is planned on Saturday, March 25th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Tucson Museum of Art.
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