By Russ Lay | Outer Banks Voice on April 15, 2010Pass through the doors of Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head, and the odds are good you will be greeted by a man short in stature but capable of filling a room with the force of his personality.
And as of this week, you will also be in the presence of a Dare County “Living Legend,” an annual award bestowed during the week-long Land of Beginnings Festival.
The local artist, Rotarian and humanitarian follows in the footsteps of prior honorees: local historian and writer David Stick, boat builder Capt. Omie Tillett and Island Gallery owner Ed Greene.
Locals and art patrons know one side of Eure very well — his offbeat sense of humor and gift of gab is ever present and impossible to avoid. If you’ve lived here for any length of time and haven’t heard Glenn ask you “Where does a sick ship go?” (To the “dock”), or “What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?” (A stick) you’ve lived the life of a hermit.
And I suspect there is nary a lady in Dare County who hasn’t been approached by Eure in a coffee shop or restaurant and walked away with a sketch of a beached boat with her name inscribed on the bow. Locally, we refer to this sketch as a Eure “limited unlimited edition.”
At the luncheon where Eure received his award, Master of Ceremonies Art Keeney, former President and CEO of East Carolina Bank, presided over a group of speakers, each of whom alternated their remarks between that of a celebrity roast and stories of courage, talent and charity.
Such is the enigma of Glenn Eure. We know him as an artist who can work in any medium and a person dedicated to charity and lifting the spirit of each person he meets. Most of us are aware Eure served in the U.S. Army and retired as a major.
But it took a retired Air Force general, Jerry Rogers, and a surprise visit from an Australian who served with Eure in Vietnam to fill in the gaps of his military life. Eure did two tours each in Korea and Vietnam.
In Korea, he was a forward artillery observer — the person who goes out ahead of the artillery units, getting as close to enemy lines as possible and calls in the coordinates of the enemy positions. It’s a dangerous job with a risk of being discovered by the enemy or taking fire from your own side.
The man from down under, John Taske, served in a multi-national artillery encampment consisting of Australian, New Zealand and American forces. Taske recounted how one day, a group of 200 Aussie soldiers encountered an opposing force of 2,000 regular North Vietnamese troops.
Taske said the outnumbered Aussies were being slaughtered “to a man,” and the Kiwi and Australian artillery guns did not have the range to take out the enemy. Eure’s battery did, and because of his expertise and how well he trained his men, Eure’s group decimated the enemy forces such that “that particular NVA fighting unit never again reformed during the course of the war,” said Taske.
“It would be hard to count how many lives Eure saved that day,” Taske said, but every “Aussie and Kiwi who served in Vietnam knew Glenn Eure.”
Other speakers, including Rotary International representative Winnie Morgan and local artist and friend Denver Lindley, focused on the side of Eure we know best: his humor and devotion to the ideals of Rotary. It goes without saying that each speaker also recognized Eure’s tremendous talents in the field of art and his contributions in raising the profile of the local arts community.
Perhaps one single word stood out in explaining the choice of Eure as this year’s living legend. And once again, it took a man who flew all the way from Brisbane to put a cap on the day’s event.
Taske described to the crowd the Australian term “mate.” It is a bond so special and unique among Aussie males that there exists no American counterpart. Taske pronounced Eure a “mate” in the purest form of the word.
Everyone who knows Eure would probably agree and proclaim, “Well done, mate. You deserved this honor.”