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A lighted-up globe, positioned to show North and South America is held in a simple wooden stand. They background of the photo is dark, so the globe shines brightly. A lighted-up globe, positioned to show North and South America is held in a simple wooden stand. They background of the photo is dark, so the globe shines brightly.
Campus & Community

Glenn’s light-up globe shines on in his old office

Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, prizes this relic that previously belonged to the senator-astronaut-icon.

I came to know John Glenn during the last 10 years of his life. His Page Hall office is the same one I use as dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. In my mind, it’s still his office — I just sit in it. And it’s very much as he left it. 

One thing he treasured there was this beautiful globe, which sits right next to his desk in a lovely wooden stand. It has a sensor, so when you touch the frame, the globe lights up. You touch it again, and it gets brighter. Touch it again, and it gets dimmer. Again, and it turns off.  

Whenever Sen. Glenn came to the office — which was quite frequently, three to four days a week, and usually with his dear wife, Annie — he would illuminate the globe and say, “I’m turning on the world.” And at the end of the day, it would be, “I’m turning off the world.” It was like him flipping on the lights of the eternal world.  

Sen. Glenn died on December 8, 2016. He had been coming to the office, even in that last six months, but as he became weaker, he came in less. Still, he stayed in touch with his assistant, Kathy Dancey, and was involved in the workings of the college. 

The day Sen. Glenn died, we got the news around noon, and we all started calling people on a phone tree we had prepared. It’s late in the day, after 6 o’clock, and we’re just exhausted. Kathy and events manager Victoria Boczkowski are in Kathy’s office, across from the senator’s. Victoria walks through his office for something, stops abruptly and calls out, “Kathy, did you turn on the globe?” “No,” Kathy replies, joining Victoria in Sen. Glenn’s office.  

They are amazed — crying and laughing — and some of us who are still in the building join them. No one had been in that office. But the globe was on. What happened, I can’t explain.  

This building is infused with Sen. Glenn’s spirit. And that globe, I continue to light it. When the light bulb dies, I am on it. That globe is going to stay on. The inspiration is worth the investment. 

As told to Mary Alice Casey 

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