Lifelong passionKenneth Glover, a Marlow native who has lived here almost his entire life, literally grew up in his dad’s paint-and-body shop.
The youngster hanging around the shop who watched closely as his father went through the various processes involved in repairing, repainting and restoring cars—that boy soon became his dad’s right-hand man.
Recognizing Kenneth’s eagerness to perform any task assigned him, as well as his obvious aptitude for those tasks, S.P. Glover began to trust his son with jobs demanding increasingly-sophisticated skills.
In fact, Kenneth was allowed to paint a car, unassisted, at the tender age of 14. And “when I was 16, Dad bought me a totaled-out car, but I had to fix it,” he recalled. By the time he finished with the badly-damaged Pontiac Catalina, it was an entirely different piece of machinery and boasted an aqua-and-white paint job.
After graduating from Mar-low High in 1968, Kenneth enrolled at Southwestern State in Weatherford with a major in industrial art and a minor in math.
College was OK, but when he was only 26 credits away from a degree, the lure of the paint-and-body shop became too strong to resist any longer. He left book-learning behind and returned home to what he loved most.
“It was a passion that I couldn’t do without,” was his simple explanation. His college advisor even tried to convince him to complete his studies, but to no avail.
The older Glover had four sons and a daughter, but only Kenneth accepted the legacy S.P. was hoping to leave to the next generation.
The business was established in 1946, four years before Kenneth was born, and has occupied several different locations through the years, but it still maintains a presence in the area and is celebrating its 67th year of operation.
And the one constant throughout most of the shop’s history has been the man behind the wrench—the one whose very identity is undeniably linked to it.
In 1977, Kenneth married a divorced single mother of two, Marietta (Savage) Thorn, in Duncan. Her children, Tresa Ingram and Kent Thorn, live west of Comanche.
Kenneth and Marietta had two children together. Their daughter, whom Kenneth dubbed ”Kandi Lynn,” is now Kandi Cortez. She lives in Sherman, Texas, and has four children. Son Justin and his wife Melisha live in the Corum area.
Which brings us to the second chapter in our story. . . .
A son’s loveIn November of 2000, Justin was still single and majoring in art at Southeastern State and things at home were humming along as usual until the morning of the sixth.
When Kenneth awoke, he found that his hands were paralyzed. He had been fine when he retired the night before, but now, without warning, his ability to move his hands or grasp anything was gone.
He suspected the cause was lead poisoning from breathing paint fumes all those years and sought help immediately. After examining him, Dr. Bill Corporon diagnosed the problem immediately, Kenneth said.
The diagnosis was Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, a condition that affects around three people in every 200,000, Kenneth explained.
He described the syndrome as “an extremely rare neurological problem that destroys the myelin sheaths around the peripheral nerves,” which are the nerves in the body’s extremities.
The paralysis begins in the fingertips and toes and quickly works its way up the limbs toward the trunk.
“And it is devastating,” Kenneth attested.
He was rushed, without delay, to Presbyterian Hospital in Oklahoma City, where six nurses and six doctors were awaiting his arrival outside the entrance and started hooking him up to high-tech equipment right there in the drive!
At this point, the gravity of his situation hit home. Although his hands were paralyzed earlier that day, Kenneth had walked into the doctor’s office. By now, however, within this short expanse of time, the upper paralysis had progressed to his shoulders and he was totally debilitated from the waist down.
After admission, the doctor said, “I’m telling you right now—you’ll probably get a lot worse. It’s moving at a rapid pace all over your body,” Kenneth recalled.
“I couldn’t move. I told her (Marietta), ‘It looks like I’m done for.’ I started praying pretty heavy right then.”
“It basically woke me up,” he continued. “This ordeal changed my priorities.” Kenneth has since become a member of the First Baptist Church.
His treatment protocol was an IV every 24 hours to boost his immune system. Ninety percent of GBS patients are placed on a ventilator to keep them alive; he didn’t require this treatment, but he was completely immobilized for seven days. After this, the doctor told him he wouldn’t get any worse, but that his Achilles tendon had been destroyed and would never recover.
At the time, Kenneth became distraught. Of course he did, you say.
Yes, he was basically a quadriplegic—no mean reality in itself; but he also found time to worry about the business. He had seven cars in the shop in varying stages of repair; and he told Marietta, “I don’t know what to do.” Curtis Hutton visited and asked how he could help.
He and Dee Williams, local auto body shop owners, finished those cars; and knowing Kenneth had no health insurance and soaring medical expenses, they refused to keep the money.
“There’s no price you can put on friendship,” Kenneth asserted. Mary Hutton also established a fund for the Glovers, and “a lot of people in this town stood behind me,” he said.
He spent three months at Presbyterian; and at one point, the doctor told him he vitally needed rehabilitation therapy, but that he didn’t qualify.
“I prayed about that,” Kenneth noted, and that night, he was told he did qualify, after all. “I said, ‘Thank God for that,’” he remembered.
He underwent intensive rehab twice a day for 30 days and recovered enough to be released.
Back home, the family gathered for a serious discussion about the future. Kenneth’s condition was slightly improved, but returning to work was completely out of the question.
He figured they could sell his antique cars and parts, and even his beloved shop if necessary, and perhaps the income would keep them afloat until he could get accepted for disability.
“We were still strugglin’,” he recalled.
Justin knew how much the shop meant to his father and at this juncture, said, “We’re not selling the shop.”
He proposed dropping out of school and keeping the business open himself. Kenneth attempted to dissuade him, but Justin’s mind was made up.
“How many kids would do that?” Kenneth asked. “He has been fantastic.”
Kenneth had one wheelchair at home and another at the shop. Justin would pick him up on his way to work in the morning—literally. He would carry Kenneth on his back from the house to the truck, then it was piggyback again from the pickup into the shop. At the end of the day, the procedure was reversed.
There were father/son adjustments at first. Sometimes, Justin’s methods were a little different from Kenneth’s, and Dad did a bit of “shop-floor superintending.”
Eventually, Justin was hooked.
“He’s got the passion I had, and he’s as good as I ever was,” Kenneth said with understandable pride. “I’m so proud of him; there are no words to describe how I feel.”
Victory“I couldn’t do anything the first three years but be there,” Kenneth said. He had been physically strong before, but that man was no more.
“The therapist said not to concentrate on what you could once do, but on what you can do today that you couldn’t do yesterday,” he repeated.
He has had no therapy whatsoever since leaving the hospital except for such practical, day-to-day self-therapy like crawling around under cars to remove and replace parts and pulling himself up through the use of a wall-mounted utility bar at the shop.
It’s been a gradual process, but Kenneth has recovered his mobility. True, he walks with a cane—his late father’s sturdy oak one—and he wears braces on his feet for support because of the damage to the Achilles tendons; but he has regained his independence.
“I thank God I‘ve got what I’ve got,” he affirmed.
Furthermore, the sense of humor and warm smile that are so a part of him are intact. He can look back and laugh at close calls and uncomfortable situations that have arisen because of his disabilities.
“I’ve got too much to do to give up,” he averred. “That ain’t gonna happen.
“I used to pray that God would use me in a way that would be a blessing to others.”
Obviously, He has. And an inspiration.