Member focus: Gordon and Martia Glass

According to a post by his family on social media, Gordon Glass passed away Jan. 23: “Gordon left his earthly journey this morning and headed out on his next trail. He was grateful for the love and caring from all of you these past 10 months as he lived with Glioblastoma. He would want to say goodbye and best wishes to everybody who touched his life.”

Below is the profile on Gordon and Martia Glass by outings leader Hart Pierce that ran in our October  Sierran: 

By Hart Pierce

Lifetime Sierra Club members and Farmington residents Martia and Gordon Glass have been intimately involved at all levels of Sierra Club activities throughout their lives together, along with their children and grandchildren. The Glass family has explored our vast wild places in the West and is committed to protecting the planet. 

Gordon’s association with the Sierra Club began at age 2. His father, a Presbyterian minister, served as chaplain for the Protestant chapel in Yosemite National Park from 1945 to 1960. Gordon was reared in the shadow of Half Dome, Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls. Throughout his youth, he and his father hiked and backpacked in the High Sierras. Through those adventures, the Sierra Club credo of exploring, enjoying and protecting the planet took hold and became part of his core. Gordon grew up with Sierra Club members like Ansel Adams, who for many years, while refining his photographic skills, was the caretaker of the Sierra Club’s LeConte Memorial Lodge, now the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center. In recent years, pre-COVID, Gordon and Martia volunteered as docents at the Conservation Heritage Center, where they would share personal anecdotes highlighting their relationship to Yosemite. For instance, Gordon remembers his sister Gail and friend Ann Adams playing under the grand piano in the Adams apartment while Ansel, an accomplished concert pianist, and wife Virginia, an accomplished singer, would hold forth.

In 1965, after graduating from the University of Redlands, Gordon entered the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach in Malawi in Southeastern Africa. Martia, born in Houston, graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and entered the Peace Corps at the same time.She was assigned to teach in India. Upon returning, they met at the University of Pennsylvania while training to teach in inner-city Philadelphia schools. Gordon and Martia soon married and looked westward, securing teaching positions with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Aneth, Utah, on the Navajo Reservation, tucked between what is now the Bears Ears National Monument and the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado. While in Aneth, the Glasses took young Navajo children on many hikes along the San Juan River. 

In the mid-’70s, they moved to Albuquerque, where Martia entered UNM Medical School and Gordon earned his master’s in counseling from the UNM College of Education. He worked in the City Court Clinic while Martia finished medical school. They also started a family, and son Justin and daughter Alisia would join in their many outdoor adventures. After relocating to Farmington in 1980, the family hiked and backpacked in San Pedro Parks Wilderness, Bandelier National Monument and other wild places in the Santa Fe, Cibola and San Juan National Forests. Later, the family volunteered for service projects in New Mexico’s Gila National Monument and the Valle Grande, now the Valles Caldera National Reserve. They spent summers clearing trails in Utah’s Uinta Mountains and installing erosion logs on Grand Canyon trails. The Glasses volunteered for a service project in Gran Paradiso National Park in the Alps of Northwestern Italy. As Gordon would later tell his grandchildren, “Our family likes to do hard things.”

In Farmington, Gordon worked for the state of New Mexico and Farmington Municipal Schools as a family counselor. Martia was a Public Health Service commissioned officer and served as a physician with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service In retirement, they continue to explore, camp, hike and volunteer with the Sierra Club, returning annually to Yosemite to visit and volunteer. Gordon and Martia are active in the Farmington Presbyterian Church, heading youth programs and fostering fellowship. Gordon was recently diagnosed with cancer and has had to curtail those outdoor activities that have been an integral part of their lives. But he continues to fight for the environment through service on the Farmington Public Utility Commission, where he is a forceful advocate for renewable energy, clean air and water, governmental ethics and transparency.

Gordon, Martia and their family have done “the hard things.” For that, the lives they have led, the values they hold dear, for their service to their fellow man and the environment, we recognize their contributions and truly thank them.

Hart Pierce is a Rio Grande Sierra Club Outings Leader in the Four Corners, a fellow FPUC commissioner, and a friend.

Photo: Gordon, Martia and kids in 1983.

Member focus: Gordon and Martia Glass