Better Person Having Known Ike McLeese

IkeMcleeseI first met Ike McLeese in our hometown Anderson, SC (Remember, he was from Anderson). Sometime in the mid 1990’s my grandfather, Boyce Franklin Glenn, Jr., carried me to an Anderson Rotary Club meeting where Ike happened to be the guest speaker. I was about 21 years old. After Ike gave his talk, ‘Boyce’ introduced us and informed me that we were cousins.

After learning I attended USC and wished to live in Columbia, Ike told me that he’d like to get together when we both returned to the Midlands. Sure ’nuff, we got together whereby he thought I would be a good candidate for the investment firm, Edward Jones. After a few weeks went by, a sort of recruitment box was delivered to Leon Jones Insurance (my workplace at the time). Well, as a young fella that was a big deal, as I never saw myself as studious enough to pass the dreaded ‘Series 7’ it took to become what was then a ‘stock broker.’

As years went by, we would see each other quite often. Whenever we’d see each other, I’d always give him one of those handshake/half hugs, and introduce him as ‘my cousin’ to anyone around. He always remembered my name, and somehow always knew what I was doing. He knew when I was married the first time, and knew about Kinsey’s death (my late wife). He knew when Jennifer and I were married.

At one event (I’m thinking it was a wedding), after I/we began to make a little noise in Columbia’s real estate industry, Ike got up in my ear and said, “I’ve been paying attention to what you’re doing.” I stepped back and answered, “Thank you. I’m trying.” His response, “You’re doing it.” I’m not sure I’ve ever been more flattered.

Here’s the thing. Ike McLeese has touched as many lives in the Midlands, directly or otherwise, as anyone I can think of. Probably more than any mayor, perhaps more than any governor. He had the unique position, as President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, to do things and make stuff happen without having to deal with running for office every two or four years. More accurately, he made this into such a position.

That all said, Ike’s heart and personality is what set him apart. Although he brokered mega deals, was privy to huge secrets, rubbed elbows with world class business leaders, and lead the effort to save our military bases during ‘BRAC,’ Ike had a knack for the rest of the world. Translation; Folks like me.

I’ve not talked about it much, but Ike McLeese made a difference to/for me. I used to think this was somehow privately unique to our relationship. However, I know far better, and am just flattered to have been a part of his reach.

As funerals go, Ike’s will always be one of my favorites. Four friends gave great talks. There were a lot of laughs and some good tears. State and local leaders were well in attendance, and military representatives were in full dress uniform. Sitting by myself, I cried, and I usually don’t. Perhaps it was because he was a link to my late grandfather, or maybe it was because I know full well this was a man that lived his life to it’s absolute max. I’d be proud of either, or both.

Here’s an interesting tidbit not many others will know (Courtesy my uncle, Dexter Glenn): ‘The reason Donald Glenn ‘Ike’ McLeese has the nickname is that Ayer Glenn, Ike’s grandfather, declared on the day after he was born that if he wasn’t named for Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, his mother (Wilma Glenn McLeese) would be written out of his will.’   There you go!!!

Well done, Ike McLeese. Further still, Thank you.


PS: I never told him this, but at the time we met I would have loved a job selling Chamber memberships. Oddly, I joined the Chamber earlier this year.

PSS: Photo courtesy of The State Newspaper & The Google.

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