Very sad news for friends and relatives of Steven Glasgal who reported that Steven took his own life last week. In September 1983, Steven returned home from Aragon High School to find his mother and father murdered. There was speculation that his older brother, Russell, who was home from college at the request of his parents, was the perpetrator. There were two trials. In the first, Steven and his sister were witnesses for the defense. It is reported that Russell warned his younger brother that if he revealed the bad feelings between him and his father, he, Russell, would commit suicide. It was a hung jury. In the second trial, Steven and his sister were witnesses for the prosecution. But Russell was judged not guilty. We often forget about victims in tragic crimes. What kind of trauma and nightmares they cannot erase.

Still, according to a close friend who met Steven many years later, Steven graduated from San Diego State University and earned an master’s in business administration from the University of Southern California.

“He was kind and selfless and invested in his friendships. Steve loved live music, spending time with, and having fun with his friends. He was optimistic and supportive. He was an entrepreneur, a self-starter and already involved in a successful business. He had it together more than any of us new graduates back then.”

Steven and a partner started a clothing line called “Social Awareness.” He was proud of their small factory in downtown Los Angeles — their “Made in America” status, and that they paid their workforce a fair and respectful living wage. One year, Steven had decided that he wanted his employees to share in the American dream of home ownership. For employees who would forgo their regular Christmas bonus, the company would help them qualify for, and complete the down payment. Two employees took them up on the offer. Both successfully purchased homes. Steven never mentioned this to his friends. Never bragged about it to anybody. He was selfless to the core. Later, when times got tough, and competing with goods made in China caused the company to close, Steven was devastated. Not for himself, but because he had to lay off all of his employees. He cared so much for the people who depended on him and for their families.

“He touched many, many lives with his goodness. He struggled so long in his anguish, but he managed to pick himself up, work hard, achieve success in so many ways, and he left an indelible mark on those many of us who were lucky enough to be a part of his life after the tragedy (whether we knew about it, or not). “

***

Great schools and great parks make a great city. As the Peninsula population grows, there is more need for places to play, exercise, relax and enjoy nature. Some have suggested that the 12-acre park in the new Bay Meadows development in San Mateo, which is now an oasis of glorious empty space — a large grassy area surrounded by a circular path for running or walking — be more intensely developed with a fitness center, soccer fields or perhaps even a swimming pool.

That would be a huge mistake. This is an urban park, not a neighborhood park. The advantage of having such a large quiet space in the midst of a major development with hundreds of apartments and condominiums, new offices, close to the Hillsdale Shopping Center (which is planning to add recreational activities such as a movie theater, fitness center and bowling alley), and near Highway 101 is to give the people who live and work there and other nearby residents some quiet place to relax, to think, to get away from it all.

The most desirable features of Central Park in downtown San Mateo is the quiet Japanese Tea Garden, the large lawn in the center of the park and the several walking paths. Here is an oasis in the midst of a thriving and busy downtown. No wonder it is considered the city’s jewel and is so popular. Last weekend, there was a pickup game of volleyball, a mom and dad and three young children playing toddler soccer and many taking a rest on the benches surrounding the lawn. The adjacent tennis courts and baseball field seemed far away.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at sue@smdailyjournal.com.

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