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In Memoriam: Rick Glawson

Sign industry mourns the passing of “Dr. Finegold”



Raymond Chapman, the owner of Chapman Signs (Temple, TX) and a minister, delivered this eulogy at the funeral of longtime friend Rick Glawson. Glawson, 55, who died of a stroke March 10, was a well-loved and respected member of the Letterheads, a group that practices traditional signmaking methods, such as painting and carving signs by hand.

Frederick Elvin Glawson
Wilmington, California
October 7, 1947 – March 10, 2003
55 Years, 5 Months, 3 Days

We are here this morning to celebrate the life of Rick Glawson. Son. Brother. Friend. "Brother of the Brush." Mentor. And for Lola, a special "son."

It is a sad occasion because one so dear is no longer with us, but it is not a mournful sorrow that we experience because of the assurance that Rick still lives, only in a different setting.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. It is altogether fitting that we should gather this morning as a family to honor our patron saint.

Rick was a giant man with a gentle heart. He towered over many of us, both physically and professionally, but that teddy bear personality never made us feel uncomfortable or threatened. When asked his height he would say that he was 5′ 17". Maybe that was so that he would not appear to be looking down on us.


He was a constant learner and the ultimate teacher. His mind was a sponge for knowledge and once some information was in that "steel trap" it did not escape, and then he willingly shared it with anyone who would ask. Or even vaguely looked interested. All of us were awed by his knowledge on such a wide range of subjects. Today, most of us here are better at our craft because of what Rick learned and shared.

But we are not here this morning because Rick was so knowledgeable. If he had been a genius and a jerk no one would have showed up. We are here because Rick looked upon each of us as very important, whether we were or not. In his eyes everyone was valuable. And whatever he had, he wanted to share with others.

Wonder where he learned the value of a person? Could it be from the one that saw in him something valuable, someone important, when others didn’t. We owe so much to Lola, for without her we probably would not have had Rick.

He was at his best when he was teaching, whether it was in a classroom, sitting across the table at a meal, holding court at the green chair, or talking to you on the phone. Almost everyone here has a story of how the quick call to Rick turned into an hour, or more. Or how the simple question at a Letterhead gathering resulted in a history lesson, along with some chemistry, some philosophy, and a good session of building self-esteem – yours. Rick assumed that you were just as excited about some new bit of information as he was. Often, many of us wanted to say, "Rick, I didn’t want to know that much." But we still always jotted down a few notes so that we wouldn’t forget.

Certainly, all of us in the sign business are going to miss having that immediate and complete source of information and encouragement available to us with just a phone call. But far above that void is the lack of having Rick’s smile to greet us. I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t smiling. So many have said, "I’ve never seen him angry". Even over the phone the voice projected a mental picture of a smiling, caring, loving person on the other end.

When you ordered something from Rick you not only got a box of supplies, but an encouraging word, a genuine concern that your project was going to turn out great, and usually some follow up call or remembrance the next time he saw you. In all of his greatness, he remained the humble teacher, always wanting you to have the spotlight and the savor of success.


Rick had a unique sense of humor. He liked to laugh. It was not unusual to be seriously listening to a long explanation of why one bathroom cup was better than the rest and then to suddenly realize that he had very gently begun to pull your leg. He looked at life a little differently than the rest of us — who here thinks Habeneros are a snack food? Or have you ever wondered if Rick owned a pair of shoes? Because we always saw him in sandals.

Time is our most prized possession. It cannot be replaced. And yet, that is what Rick gave away so freely. With every question he never seemed disturbed, annoyed, or rushed. He simply made you the center of his attention. We will probably never know how many nights he had to stay up to finish his own projects because he had used up the day helping us with ours.

For years many of us thought that we were Rick’s best friend because he treated us so special. And then we found out that he treated everyone special, whether you had been in the business for twenty years or twenty minutes. His patient was infinite. It seemed he never tired of the endless string of questions. Your question was important even if it were the most mundane and simple.

His smile always intrigued me. It was different. Along with it came a special sparkle in his eyes, and his eyebrows began to go up and his eyes just kept getting bigger. Almost like he knew something that you didn’t. And, of course, he did. It was more than just a vast array of facts and figures. He had discovered the secret that so few of us ever find – that people are more important than things. And that is what drew us to him.

You see, Rick was a preacher. He didn’t wear a collar, or a robe, or stand behind a pulpit. His life was an open book. Not one that he wrote, but one that he read…and lived. Many of us claim to believe in the "good news" but Rick was one of the few that truly allowed it to direct his life.

John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love you another."


We were given a glimpse of what God is like as He was revealed in how Rick treated people. All people.

Rick found assurance in the fact that this place was not his home. The short time he was here was with the knowledge that he was not designed for an existence in an imperfect world.

John 14:1ff "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Rick is not dead. He has just changed residences. Before us is the body that Rick used while he was here. But this is not Rick. He has gone home.

The Apostle John describes that place in Rev. 21 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’"

Later in that chapter of Revelation John began to describe the characteristics of the city.

V. 18 "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass." V.21 "The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass." – Don’t you know that Rick is having a ball.

Because he believed in that place, he did not let this place overpower him. He was not angered by the petty nor did he become confused by those whose motives were selfish. His eye was on a higher standard and his goal was beyond what he could gain from others

This was found inside the front of Rick’s Bible: "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:13-14

Today, I think Rick would be able to say the same thing that the Apostle Paul said to the young preacher Timothy in II Tim. 4:7"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteious Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

We have lost one of the greats. There is a deep void inside all of us. We are confused and there may be many "whys". So many here have lost those that were very close, some in tragic circumstances, and yet Rick’s death has hit us especially hard. And we wonder why? Possibly it is because he was what we knew we ought to be and were not. And now he is gone and we are left.

Let us find comfort in the words from the book that guided Rick:

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words." I Thess. 4:13-18

To the family and especially to Rick’s special friend, Lola, all of us here wish that we could say the words that would make the hurt go away. We have come here today from all over the United States, Canada, and even from England because of our deep respect for Rick, but also because no one could think of Rick without thinking of Lola. We extend to you our love and our hearts, along with all the hugs that we can get in, in order that you may know how we loved both you and Rick. There are a lot of people all over the world right now that are reaching out to you to offer comfort. I received many calls this past week with people saying, "Please give Lola a hug for me and tell her that we love her."

Today, many are closing their businesses and setting aside this time as a memorial to you and Rick. Our sympathy surrounds you as our hearts are torn with yours. May God bless you.




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