Updated: 6/1/16: A work still in progress of personal history including life timeline, link to family tree and articles, along with photos and video links will be coming shortly...
Video link: "Testimony of Grace in my life" 10/20/13
From early childhood, truly blessed with great and loving parents, Jim & Grace (Crouse) Gleason (yes, named after my father, I'm a "jr"), I was the oldest of 6 children. Our family name, 'Gleason' means 'son of a glass maker' and in fact my father, Jamess Michael Sr. was a ceramic engineer and in that role, created and manufactured glass of many types. We began life in New Brunswick, NJ, USA, moved to Sydney area of Australia for a few years, then back to New Brunswick before settling down in nearby Metuchen, New Jersey for my youth through teen years.
Here's "Jimmy Mike", Sissy and mom. Sissy was struck by a car and killed while I was still in kindergarten. In the late '40's we would move to Sydney, Australia, and that's a great story in and of itself (to be developed here later - including learning how to swim by an Aborigine native) to return to our grandparent's home on 17 Senior Street in New Brunswick, NJ (with memories of weekly Rutger's ROTC parades) The family photo below is the passport photo from that Australian travel returning to the US in early 1950's, back to live initially with our Gleason grandparents until moving to 119 University Ave, Metuchen, NJ in 1952..
Photo: from left to right: Jim, John - later known as "Jackie", mom, baby Maggie, dad, Kathy and Betsy
- Return from Australia to New Brunswick, NJ
- home in Metuchen, NJ home with many formative jobs and special friends
- Danfords (paper pick up story)
- First Aid Squad cadets (see photo below)
- customer service story (5 times in one day)
- vegetable bus, Tropical Pet Land, Jewelry store, Crouse's Lunber (accident story)
- college days at Seton Hall University (S. Orange NJ) and later, Master's degree from The College of New Jersey
- high school math teacher back at my high school, St. Peter's in New Brunswick, later at JFK in Iselin, NJ
- teen romance (Jay), wedding ('65) and young family life (Susan '67, Mary '69 & Michael '71)
After graduating from Seton Hall University, I began a career as a high school math teacher at my high school alma mater, St. Peter's in New Brunswick, NJ.
That was fascinating, to return to the school I had attended, now as a teacher working along side the nuns and lay faculty who had been my teachers just four years before.
My subjects were Algebra and Geometry for Freshmen and Sophomores and I loved every minute of it from the first fearful day I arrived. The previous Summer, while working at a nearby Stewart's Root Beer stand (Fords, NJ), I had such concerns given the impact a teacher may have on the lives of students for good or bad, I almost talked myself out of teaching given that awesome responsibility. Thankfully, with prayers, I began that September in a classroom that had been the janitor's work area when I was there as a student. With overhead hanging pipes and such, I presented my math students with their new "mathematics lab" which became even more convincing when I used those shapes and angles as examples in the Geometry classes.
While teaching, I went on to get my Master's degree in what would later become The College of New Jersey. It was tough fitting in that class schedule, driving many miles away, reading lessons by flashlight while driving on a dark night US route 1 in my little red VW at 50 mph, but life was good. Starting salary was $2,000/year which went up unexpectedly to $2,500 the second year.
Two teaching years later, I moved to the Woodbridge Township school system as a math instructor at JFK High School, Iselin, NJ for the increased pay needed to support a growing family, $7,000/yr. While teaching, I enjoyed roles as faculty adviser for a revived Kiwanis Key Club which went on to win state honors for the most improved club based on activities those students carried out in service to the school and community. Another opportunity was offered when the athletic director asked if I would like to be the tennis coach. I replied, "But I know nothing about tennis" to which he replied, "Did I ask you if you knew anything about tennis?" I agreed and was sent down to the principal to let her know I was their new tennis coach. That year I learned tennis from the books and passed along my new found skills (not much in actual playing) to eager students who themselves knew even less. I did understand their situation and we worked out well together, me working on reading theory, practicing during free teaching periods, later working out with them on the courts with my new found knowledge. We didn't win any trophies but grew in skills that would play out in their later years too. I can honestly say I loved every minute of it, except that this was a period of teacher unrest with unions fighting for higher wages. After two years of threatened strikes, the Kiwanis mentor for that Key Club shared an opportunity in industry working for Sperry Uinivac. With a $3,000 raise, I left teaching, always finding a way to still engage in teaching over the years but now in corporate America for the next almost forty years. But that too is yet another LONG story.
still to come . . .
- New Jersey years (69-72)
- Richmond VA years (72-75)
- Albany NY years (75-85)
- Blue Bell home office years (85-2005)
with retirement in Feb 2005
- heart diagnosis: 1992
- heart transplant date: 10/19/1994
- Roberto's gift
- volunteer roles since (paying forward)