By Jeff Glueck | Special to the NB Indy
Many of you read my father’s column, “Deep Thoughts from Dr. Mike,” over the years in this newspaper. He loved Newport Beach, his home for 44 years, and loved sharing his thoughts, whether funny, sad, indignant, or irreverent.
We lost my father, Michael Glueck, on December 6 this year. He was 79.
My dad had quite a life. Many of you may not have known much beyond his columns. He came to Newport from the east coast in 1972, a young doctor seeking sunshine and opportunity.
He ended up serving as Chief of Staff at Costa Mesa Memorial Hospital, and head of radiology for several decades. When a corporation took over the hospital and forced him into an early retirement, he found a second career as a writer. He wrote over 1,000 articles or op-eds. He wrote poems for the annual children’s library festival in Newport, and the Library named him poet laureate of Newport.
He began a syndicated column called “The Medicine Men,” co-written with Dr. Bob Cihak, on medical-legal issues, published in Newsmax. He took on corporate, lawyerly, and government interference in medicine, and advocated for a return to the simpler doctor-patient relationship he held dear.
Later, in the Independent and the OC Business Journal, his columns evolved into a “Quick Glueck Shtick,” humorous takes on local issues, on life, or on sports (especially the trials of the Angels).
People loved his writing—it was folksy and full of anecdotes.
I remember once he wanted to see if anyone was paying attention, and he wrote an article about his finding the best Egg Foo Yung in California, praising its deliciousness, and saying if you wanted to know the name of the place, call this number to find out. He put our home phone in the article. The phone started ringing at 2 a.m. and didn’t stop for days. Mom was furious. Callers were shocked to find this was a home phone, not the newspaper office. But Dad loved it. He knew his readers were paying attention.
He had loved being a doctor and easing people’s pain, but as a writer he served in other ways. He took up causes: He advocated for mental health parity for years, before it became common; for rules to protect athletes from concussions; for common-sense gun control; and of course, to curb the growing culture of frivolous lawsuits.
Above all, his close family always came first. He was an amazing dad for my sister, Jennifer Glueck Bezoza, and me. He encouraged us to make the most of ourselves. He was the kind of dad who came to every baseball and volleyball game. Who made us want to be better people. He added a 2nd mortgage to the house to send us to college, when he was no longer practicing medicine, and never mentioned it again. He wanted the best of opportunities for his kids.
He was a devoted husband to our mom, Miriam “Mimi” Glueck, for 52 years. In the last few years, as her health has worsened, he became her constant caregiver, and far more patient and gentle than I would have imagined. (After all, she had pretty much handled everything for him for 50 years!)
Above all, he loved his five grandchildren dearly. Every call the last few years began “How’s the kiddos?”
After years in Newport, they spent the last 15 months in New York, and saw their kids and grandkids almost every weekend. It was a joy to see him giving batting tips to Zach in the backyard, or teaching card tricks to Brooke.
My dad was a “schmoozer.” He kept up with so many people, from old friends from Cleveland Heights High to college buddies from Cornell or medical colleagues from Boston. He loved making new friends at Kean’s Coffee, Haute Cakes, and other local spots. He loved to befriend everyone he met. At the Atria, a senior community where he lived the last 15 months, there was an outpouring when Mike passed away.
He taught us to care about the world, about injustice and the direction of the country, and of course to root for his favorite teams (the Indians, the Angels and for a time the Rams) even against all odds and years of pain. He and I didn’t always agree on policy, but he cared, and he spoke up, and encouraged us to speak out for what we believed.
His sense of humor could be sometimes inappropriate, certainly not politically correct, but he was always seeking a reason to chuckle or smile. That was his way through.
Above all topics as a writer, he loved anecdotes about the grandkids and funny things they would say.
I found a 2013 column in the Independent where he wrote about a conversation with my daughter Alexandra, at the time 4 years old:
‘God lives in outer space’, said Ali. “And if you have the right phone, you can call him.”
“Are you sure?” Mike asked.
“Oh yes. God lives in Outer Space and you could call him,” she said.
Today my Dad doesn’t need a phone to talk to God. We miss him, but I know he’s in good hands.
Goodbye, Pops. Love you forever.