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In Remembrance of Burnell Roberts and Dick Glennon: The Dayton Foundation Says Goodbye to Former Governing Board Members


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Former members of The Dayton Foundation Governing Board in the early 1990s (left to right): Lloyd Lewis, Jr., Thomas Danis, John Moore, Sr., Burnell Roberts, Anne Greene, Richard Glennon, Sr., Betsy Whitney, Charles Abramovitz, Jesse Philips. Front row: Former President Fred Bartenstein III


It is with heavy hearts and deep admiration that The Dayton Foundation marks the passing of Burnell Roberts and Richard Glennon, Sr., both of whom were well-respected philanthropists, businessmen, community advocates and longtime Foundation friends. Their combined service on the Foundation’s Governing Board spanned 16 years, starting in 1984 and ending in 2000 with Burnell as then-outgoing chair. During this time, they oversaw unprecedented growth for the Foundation and helped it mature from a small, relatively unknown organization into a force for good in the region. They gave freely of their time, energy and talent to the Foundation, as well as to many other organizations in Greater Dayton.

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Mary and Dick Glennon

When Dick Glennon joined the Board in 1984, he was one of five like-minded volunteers, including then-Chair Fred Smith, Sr., Anne Greene, John Moore, Sr., and Jesse Philips. At the time, Dick confessed to not knowing much about the organization, but, as he stated in a 1998 Dayton Foundation article, he quickly was “convinced that the Foundation is the major resource in our community…. a qualifying point for a variety of current needs and proposed solutions to those needs.”

This small but mighty group, alongside then-President Fred Bartenstein, laid the groundwork in establishing the Foundation as a modern community foundation, expanding charitable fund options and taking a more direct approach to community grantmaking and leadership initiatives.

Dick’s entrepreneurial spirit, combined with his fascination for innovative technologies, led him to establish several medical device companies in Greater Dayton, including New Dimensions in Medicine, which produced the first disposable electrodes.

Servant leadership and living the Marianist mission were hallmarks in the lives of both Dick Glennon and his late wife, Mary. They gave generously to the community they loved, particularly in supporting education for disadvantaged children and the University of Dayton, where Dick also served as a Board member.

As a new member of the Foundation’s Governing Board in 1993, I was in awe of the giants of Dayton’s business community seated around the table. I soon found Dick Glennon and Burnell Roberts to be great cheerleaders for The Dayton Foundation... they will be sorely missed.
– Betsy Whitney, former Governing Board member

Brother Raymond Fitz, SM, PhD, former president of UD, described Dick as “an outstanding member of the University’s Board and the Dayton community. Dick knew how to ask good questions, some of which were very challenging. Often, he was able to move myself and the Board to respond in more innovative and positive directions to the challenges we faced. And, he always did it with his endearing smile. He was of great support to me personally and very supportive of the mission of the University and the community as a whole.”

The Glennons’ commitment to the community will continue through their children and grandchildren through several endowed funds Mary and Dick established at The Dayton Foundation more than 30 years ago. Included among them is an unrestricted fund created with forethought “to respond to future challenges which cannot be predicted today,” Dick said in 2007. “My grandchildren may not be living here in 50 years, but somebody’s grandchildren will. I believe those of us who have done well in this city have a responsibility to those kids. When a community creates opportunities for success, business people must search for ways to give back some of what they’ve taken out. Everyone needs to put something back in the pot. The Dayton Foundation is our way to ensure the quality of life in the 21st century.”

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Burnell and Karen Roberts

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Burnell Roberts shared a similar commitment to the next generation. “With everyone’s assistance, we can make this good place even better – not just for today, but for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren,” he said in a 1998 Dayton Foundation article.

Burnell’s commitment to and love for the region led him to join The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board in 1989, serving as its chair from 1998 to 2000. With the Board’s oversight and strategic planning process, the Foundation experienced a rapid increase in new donors and donor contributions during those formative years, making it one of the country’s fastest growing community foundations.

As the retired chairman and CEO of The Mead Corporation and member of numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including the Dayton Performing Arts Fund, Hospice of Dayton, Miami Valley Research Foundation, National City Bank (Cleveland) and Sinclair Community College, Burnell had a broad range of experience in leadership that equally matched the compassion he felt for his adopted community.

“In the Dayton area, a single human being can make a difference. The community draws you in and makes you want to put something back,” he said in a 1998 Foundation article.

Giving both time and treasure was important to Burnell and his late wife, Karen, who passed away in 2021. Together they supported their strong interests in Dayton’s performing arts, education and innovation through their Dayton Foundation charitable funds.

During Burnell’s and Dick’s years of service on the Board, community assets through the Foundation rose from $6 million to more than $232 million, with a combined total of $230 million in grants awarded to nonprofits near and far. Equally impressive were the community leadership initiatives and special efforts undertaken during their terms for the betterment of all citizens in Greater Dayton. Significant accomplishments included the establishment of the Montgomery County Public Education Fund (later called the Alliance for Education); Dayton Self-Sufficiency Task Force that ultimately launched The Job Center; Schuster Performing Arts Center; The Disability Foundation; and the Foundation’s Diversity Initiative.

“As a new member of the Foundation’s Governing Board in 1993, I was in awe of the giants of Dayton’s business community seated around the table,” said Betsy Whitney, whose Board term ended in 2002. She continues to serve as a member of the Foundation’s Marketing and Public Relations Committee. “I soon found Dick Glennon and Burnell Roberts to be great cheerleaders for The Dayton Foundation. They were very supportive and always available to fill in additional information or history from their long and broad business and community service. Their friendship always will be a favorite memory of my Foundation experience, and they will be sorely missed.”