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For Love and Literature - A Legacy that keeps Growing

Glenn & Claire - umbrella

A Legacy of Love and Literature

 

From a young age Leo Glenn Swogger, Jr. had a smirk on his face and his nose in a book.

He loved reading and learning. Graduating at the young age of 15 from Topeka High School, Glenn continued his studies at the University of Chicago and then obtained a medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Claire1It was in his final year of medical school that he met the true love of his life, Claire Schubert.

Claire, at the urging of her mother, had emigrated to the US in the 1950s working as an au pair and a secretary.  Claire had been born in Ragnit, East Prussia in 1926 in the midst of turmoil. Her father had enlisted in the military for both World War One and World War Two.  Her mother then made the difficult decision to leave the area for a safer life near Basel. According to Glenn’s writings, the family continued to reside in that area for many years.

Glenn & Claire WeddingGlenn and Claire’s whirlwind romance continued as they were married in New York in 1960, where Glenn continued his residency and internships. All the while Glenn was learning German to better communicate with his new bride.

Glenn and Claire knew the importance of earning their own way. While family could have helped, they chose to follow the old saying “An intern lives by the sweat of his frau.”

While in New York Glenn served his country in the US Navy, then moved on to private practice and became a psychiatrist. It was there in a tiny apartment that their love of art bloomed and Claire’s artistic abilities developed. From replicating paintings to learning the art of pottery and photography, New York allowed Claire and Glenn to explore the wide world around them.

The heartstrings of the heartland soon came tugging at Glenn’s heart. In the 1970s, Glenn began working at the Menninger Foundation. Literature, learning and teaching were ever present in this part of his life. Through his work at the Foundation, the couple traveled extensively around the world. Glenn taught while Claire was nearly always by his side with a camera, unless it was scuba diving. Glenn said she had no desire to be underwater and left those photographs to him. She instead traversed the land photographing the people and places in the sun.

In 1982, Glenn became Chairman of the Board for Kaw Valley Bank in Topeka and held that position until 2017. Claire, ever present, took on Marketing and became a fixture in the board rooms as well.

Glenn & Claire 2As the couple put down roots in the heartland, they saw the need around them to continue to improve the community both locally and globally. They got involved, helped with improvements and made financial contributions to numerous organizations. Glenn served as a member of The Library Foundation’s Board of Directors. The couple became Charter Members of the Wilder Society, the planned giving society supporting the programs and services of the Library Foundation and the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. This public commitment solidified their acknowledgement of the importance of the library in our community.

Glenn’s love of Claire, literacy and the community continued to grow and blossom throughout the years. The couple decided that they best way for them to share this love was to create The Redbud Foundation. The Foundation would give them an avenue to make a larger impact during and after their lives for the things they held most dear.

Their contributions to The Library Foundation began small and quickly grew as the library’s needs grew. From taking part in the Homework Center, to lending advice and funds for the neighborhoods, Glenn recognized and saw the value that came from having a thriving library in the community.

Dr. Leo Glenn Swogger, Jr was asked to give the inaugural Hirschberg Lecture Series address for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. This was a privilege he recognized as an extreme honor.

Glenn gives credit to Claire for the naming of the Millennium Café. They felt the name would ‘convey a sense of hope for the future’. Over 20 years later, we feel it does just that.

The Swoggers love for the library did not fade but continued to grow and blossom, just like their beloved red buds, throughout the years. As plans for library improvements began to take shape, Claire’s health failed, and she passed on May 2, 2017. While Glenn had lost his partner and constant companion, his love for her never faded. He continued to speak of her daily and the times they had together.

It’s said that when The Library Foundation approached Glenn about a gift to expand the outdoor space, he responded, “What could you do with more?” Glenn was a dreamer and a doer.

Glenn at Claire Courtyard OpeningGlenn continued honoring his love for Claire by naming the new outdoor space, “Claire’s Courtyard”. At the grand opening of the space in October 2019, Dr. Swogger says it's a place where people can come to meet other people, "who have similar interests and get in touch with the world. The courtyard is very valuable that way."

As the world was rocked by the pandemic and social unrest in 2020-2021, Glenn continued his commitment to the community and his love of learning. He continued writing about Apocalyptic Hatred and how it is impacting the progression of our society.

During the years after the opening of the Courtyard, the Millennium Café underwent a renovation, bringing the space into the new era of the library. While change is hard, Glenn saw the benefits of the new layout, menu and colors. With a sparkle in his eye and smirk on his lips, he spoke lovingly of Claire on one of his final visits to the library.

Leo Glenn Swogger, JR.

On August 7, 2021, Dr. Leo Glenn Swogger passed away.

With a lifetime of giving, leading and loving, his legacy story is not fully written.

Glenn and Claire in their final wishes made provisions to continue promoting literacy and learning through not, only the Red Bud Foundation, but through The Library Foundation as well. The couple left their home and its contents to benefit the work and mission of The Library Foundation.

Their nephew remarked “I'm very happy that the Topeka Library has been able to benefit from Glenn and Claire's legacy. We've always been a library-loving family, so their gift made so much sense.”

With this gift a few pieces of Claire’s work along with Andy Warhol, Indian Head Nickel, from the Cowboys and Indians Series, have been given to the Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery through the Foundation.

The Swogger’s incredible gift will be a catalyst for programs, services, and projects for decades to come. Glenn and Claire’s legacy is truly one of love and passion for a culture of learning in our community.

Item's from Glenn and Claire's estate are currently being sold through https://auctions.kansasestatesales.com/ - Two sales the summer of 2022 will be comprised specifically of items from that estate that will benefit The Library Foundation.

To learn more about how your passion can become a legacy benefiting our community through The Library Foundation, please call Erin Aldridge, Executive Director, at 785-580-4493 or email Foundation@tscpl.org

 

In 2017, TSCPL staff conducted an interview with Glenn about he and Claire's interest in supporting the Library and Foundation  - you can see it here on YouTube

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