Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Justice Robert D. Glass passed away November 27, 2001, just one day before what would have been his seventy-ninth birthday. Justice Glass, who stood six feet, nine inches tall, has been described as a giant of a man, in both the figurative and literal senses, and as the embodiment of the "American Dream."
Justice Glass was born November 28, 1922, in Wetumpka, Alabama, to Isaiah and M. E. Glass, a farmhand and a domestic worker. Lacking the money to buy books, Justice Glass was not able to begin school until he reached the age of ten. Once he was able to enroll in school, the only one that was open to him was a racially segregated school. From 1943 to 1946, Justice Glass served his country in the United States Army, earning several decorations. In 1949, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from North Carolina central University. Despite his rejection, because of his race, from the all-white University of North Carolina, Justice Glass persevered in his dream of having a career in the law and entered law school at North Carolina Central University, from which he received a Bachelor of Laws degree, cum laude, in 1951, and was the top student in his class. He was admitted to practice in North Carolina in 1951.
After moving north to Connecticut, Justice Glass settled in Waterbury and, from 1961-1962, was a claims examiner for the Connecticut department of labor. He was admitted to practice in Connecticut in 1962. In 1964, he served on the Waterbury committee on human rights, and from 1966-1967 he served as assistant United States attorney for Connecticut. On September 1, 1967, Justice Glass became a judge of the Juvenile Court and served there until his appointment, in 1978, to the Superior Court. In recognition of his administrative talents, Justice Glass, in 1984, was appointed administrative judge for the judicial district of Waterbury, where he remained until he was sworn in as an associate justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court on June 26, 1987. He remained a member of the Supreme Court until November 1992, when he reached the constitutional age limitation of seventy years.
In an article published in the Hartford Courant December 11, 2001, Judge Charles D. Gill noted that Justice Glass "always was modest about himself, yet always praised the accomplishment of others....[He] loved his family, his church and his America....He knew what was important in life and what was not." Former Chief Justice Ellen Peters, in remarks made on the final day that Justice Glass heard cases on the Supreme Court, noted that "[t]he opinions that Justice Glass has crafted will stand as a legacy for generations to come. Yet it is not solely his legal acumen that is his legacy to us all. What we will also continue to remember, always, is his dignity, his wisdom, and his respect for each person, not only for what that person has been, but for what that person can become." In truth, Justice Glass himself epitomized the triumph of determination over overwhelming odds.
Justice Glass was survived by his wife, Doris Powell Glass, his son, Robert D. Glass, Jr., his daughters, Roberta G. Brown and Rosalyn G. Rountree, his son-in-law, Joseph Rountree, and his grandchildren, Marie A. Arrington and Jacob A. Brown.
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