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Motorhoming | Family Motor Coach Association

Key notes

Former FMCA national president Glen R. Key turned 90 in November 2006. This article provides general information about his life experiences. Read about his FMCA involvement and motorhoming life in the March 2007 issue of FMC magazine.

Tidbits about Glen R. Key’s life …

• In boyhood Glen suffered from croup each winter, nearly choking to death. “When I began to choke and couldn’t breath, Mama would give me two or three big spoonfuls of hog lard,” he said. “The lard would usually induce vomiting and this would clear the phlegm from my throat.” The condition continued until he had his tonsils removed.

• Glen has fond memories of long evenings playing dominos with his dad. “This taught me to count quickly in order to win. We kept this up all during my high school years when other activities did not interfere.”

• In high school, he played alto saxophone in the school band, sang with the glee club and was a member of boys’ quartet.

• From his brief stint playing high school football, he learned a life lesson. “I weighed about 115 to 120 pounds and most of the line was 160 to 180 pounds, so they literally ran over me and then made fun of me for not holding the line, calling me sissy names. This hurt very much. I could take the physical abuse but not the verbal abuse.” He credits the humiliation from this experience for building his character and determination to succeed in professional life.

• He remembers riding in the family’s Ford Model T touring car in the early 1920s. His own early cars included a 1936 Buick and a 1939 Chevrolet two-door sedan.

• He was drafted into the Army in June 1945, after the war in Europe was over and a few months before Japan’s surrender. He was discharged in December 1945 following a new ruling favoring a release for anyone with three or more children.

• He married his wife, Martha, in June 1938. She died from breast cancer in 1997. During their 59-1/2-year marriage, they had only one confrontation. In 1957 he bought a Cessna 170, a light, single-engine aircraft, and took flying lessons. “She thought for sure I would have an accident and kill myself and leave her with three young children to rear.” But after he received his Private Pilot’s License, Martha would ride with him on occasion. “She wasn’t totally sold on the idea, but we did enjoy flying together.”

• He owned Chandler Ice Plant for one year in the 1950s “because the price was right and I was curious about making ice.”

• The Keys owned five motorhomes through the years: an Executive, two Blue Birds, a Newell and a Foretravel. “Each one was a couple of years apart, so we had the latest bells and whistles each time. I think the last one, the Foretravel, had everything on it.”

• Because he had driven transport trucks in the 1940s and early ‘50s, driving a motorhome came easily to Glen. “Our biggest challenge was to find an RV park that had electricity to run our air conditioner in times of hot weather.”

• His son, Phillip, and Phillip’s wife, Connie, of Sulphur, Oklahoma, are FMCA members (F39285). His siblings — Ola Pearl, 93; Gerald, 87; and Lilly May, 81 — still live in Chandler:

• Glen has weathered his share health problems over the years. In addition to an appendectomy in 1936, he had his gall bladder taken out in 1970. In 1974, while on a motorhome trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, he had to have 14-inches of his colon removed. He quipped, “I’ve gotten rid of everything I don’t have to have.” More serious was chest fatigue, for which he checked into the hospital in 1963. That prompted him to curtail some of his business activities and political interests.

• He does not regret losing races for Oklahoma state treasurer in 1962 and 1966. “With my heart problems and Martha’s cancer problems, we would not have been able to pursue our interests in banking at Quinton and Sulphur.”

• These days Glen suffers from osteoarthritis but manages to ride a stationary bike every day. “I feel pretty good,” he said, “but my joints don’t always cooperate.”

• Glen considers Samuel Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “A Psalm of Life” an excellent guide on how to live life. He’d often recite this poem to his young children. On long night runs driving a truck in Texas, he would recite it to help stay awake. And many nights when Martha fell ill, he’d recite it to himself while sitting next to her bed.

"A Psalm of Life"
by Samuel Wadsworth Longfellow

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

 Editor's note: Glen R. Key passed away on April 25, 2007, at the age of 90.

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