Educator also served in World War II
Glanton molded two generations in Grantville
by W. Winston Skinner
Thomas Abner Glanton molded at least two generations of Grantville citizens - serving as principal, teacher, coach and mentor.
'When we were going to school, we didn't respect him like we should have,' Grantville retiree Robert Nash said. Adulthood gave Grantville's students a different perspective on the longtime principal.
'What he was trying to hamme r into our heads wa s what we needed,' Nash said. Glanton d i ed De c . 18 at 102. In addition to his longtime leadership as an educator, he had been active in civic and religious life in Grantville. He also was a World War II veteran.
Glanton's family will receive visitors at McKoon Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. Friday. His funeral will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Grantville, where Glanton was a pillar for decades.
Interment will follow at Hillview East Cemetery in LaGrange.
Thomas Glanton was born Nov. 4, 1911, on on his family's farm in LaGrange. His father died when Glanton was 11 years old. His mother soon moved to Grantville where her brother, Jess Cleaveland, resided. Glanton was a Boy Scout and later a Scoutmaster.
Glanton was valedictorian of his class at Grantville High School in Coweta County and went to Auburn University at the age of 15.
When he graduated in 1932 with a degree in architecture, jobs for architects were scarce. 'He took what he could get,' Robert Nash related. Glanton was one of Georgia's youngest principals when he assumed his duties at Grantville Public School.
The Great Depression thus changed the course of life for Glanton - and for the hundreds of students whose lives he would impact during the next 39 years.
'He was the principal. He stoked the furnace, and he coached the basketball team. He did it all,' Robert Nash said.
'He was well respected,' he said. Glanton eventually earned a bachelor of science degree and a master's in school administration. Grantvillians sometimes wondered aloud why someone as brilliant as Glanton stayed in Grantville - when there had to have been other, more lucrative opportunities.
Glanton has a passion for basketball - coaching the boys' and girls' teams. 'He enjoyed it,' Nash said.
Glanton's tenure in education was a time when corporal punishment was the norm. He had a paddle made from a footshaped wooden form used at the local textile mill in manufacturing socks.
Robert Nash's son, Hugh, was in the second generation of pupils overseen by Tom Glanton. 'He was top notch. He went by the book,' he said. 'If you got in trouble, you could go to him and talk to him.'
There was a four-year hiatus from his teaching and administrative duties in Grantville. His only brother, Ralph, was killed - from a shrapnel wound during World War II. Glanton himself served four years of service in the U.S. Air Force.
Tom Glanton was an intelligence officer who interviewed German prisoners of war. He also provided aerial intelligence analysis. He was in Europe on VE Day, celebrating the end of the Third Reich, and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Coweta area veteran Jeff Carroll reflected on Glanton's military service.
'Tom set the standard. His service in the military carried over to his civilian life and, coupled together, showed that he was not only a war hero, but a community hero as well,' Carroll said. 'Both aspects of his life were amazing.'
Glanton retired in 1972. In 1984, the school building where he served was named in his honor. That structure is now the Glanton Municipal Complex and houses the city hall and senior citizens center.
The elementary school that now serves Grantville's children was named Glanton Elementary School in 2007.
He was named to the Coweta County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his involvement in athletics, particularly his years as girls basketball coach at Grantville High School.
A couple of years ago, he was grand marshal of the parade for the Cross Tie Festival in Grantville. 'He was excited about that,' Hugh Nash recalled.
Glanton was a member of the Retired Officers Association. At First Methodist in Grantville, he served on the administrative board for 40 years and was a Sunday school teacher for 35 years.
In 2011, Glanton attributed his longevity to 'clean living and obedience ... obeying God's word.'
He had lived at Savannah Court in Newnan for more than 10 years where he was a favorite with staff, fellow residents and visitors - often surprising and delighting people with his clarity of mind and memory.
Glanton and his wife, Juliette 'Judy' Baker Glanton, were married almost 72 years at the time of her death in 2006. A daughter, Sharon Meltzer, also preceded Glanton in death.
Survivors include his son, Thomas P. Glanton, of Dallas, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His family asked that memorial gifts go to Grantville First UMC, P.O. Box 95, Grantville, GA 30220.
Glanton 'was really brilliant in so many different ways not just in education, but in dealing with people,' Robert Nash said.
'He was a good person,' Hugh Nash said. 'He is going to be missed.'