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Profiles in Giving

Old Time Values

“The best legacy to give a child is an education,” said Charles “Sherm” Gleason, M45, A78P, M78P, J80P, M85P, who, with his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Gleason, J43, M46, A78P, M78P, J80P, M85P, empowered that legacy by creating the Gleason Family Endowed Scholarship Fund. “Both Betty and I were able to give this legacy to our five children,” Sherm said in 2000. “But we understand the cost of higher education makes it difficult for many families, and we wanted to help them out.”

The Gleasons, now deceased, opened their combined practices—he was a pediatrician, she a general practitioner—in the home where Sherm grew up in Wareham, Massachusetts. He was an old-school doctor, known for his sympathetic approach and all-hours availability. Realizing the youth of Wareham needed recreational space, he spearheaded the idea of creating a YMCA in town and donated the land to make it happen. Betty, a master of juggling the needs of five children with a demanding professional schedule, was respected for her calm and patience. She opened several clinics and agencies devoted to women’s and mental health in the 1960s, years ahead of their time. With deep Tufts roots—her grandfather, William Lesley Hooper, was acting president of Tufts from 1912–14—Betty was one of 20-plus family members with Tufts degrees.

“They were the most down-to-earth people you could ever meet,” says scholarship recipient Richard Koff, MG08, M12, of the Gleasons. “They loved meeting people and always invited everyone over,” recalls their daughter, Amy Wiegandt, J80, M85, an internist in Wareham, adding that her parents “thought it horrendous that people had to pay so much to finance medical school. They believed that anyone who wanted to go to medical school should be able to. That was their prime objective in giving.”