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By STEPHANIE HAYES. Times Staff Writer
Published December 13, 2007
TAMPA - He spent his life digging, studying the physical to reveal something greater.
So when he looked at a 1920s bungalow, he saw more than a pile of bricks. To Stephen Gluckman, historic homes were artifacts that told a story. And he worked every day to protect them.
Dr. Gluckman was an archeologist and a professor at the University of South Florida. In 1988, he unearthed skeletons of Indians who roamed Tampa Bay between 1000 and 1200 A.D.
He had a white beard and a handlebar moustache that he twirled with two fingers. He read countless books, and could converse about anything - if you asked.
But to friends, he was the kind neighbor who pored over historical photos and chaired the preservation committee, finding ways to keep Old Seminole Heights in tact.
"He felt that there was as much to be learned from a 10,000-year-old object as there was from something 40 or 50 years old," said his brother, Jeremy Gluckman, 62. "It was the thrill of seeking out the mystery."
* * *
He spent years with just the essentials.
Since 1977, Dr. Gluckman lived in a 1915 bungalow on Suwanee Avenue with its share of flaws. "It's my belief, my prejudice, that you can't make historic houses better," he told the St. Petersburg Times in 2005. "What you do is make them different."
He read in the same spot everyday. Sun came in the window, so he didn't have to use a light. He went online from 3 to 5 p.m., because he had one phone line. Friends knew not to call then.
He salvaged things from old homes he helped restore - door frames, mantles, pine floors. He walked to neighborhood meetings, even if he had to cross busy Hillsborough Avenue.
He went to art openings, if they were free. He didn't believe in paying to enjoy art. Finally, friends bought him a membership to a paid gallery.
He'd seek out obscure ethnic buffets. When his lunch group made him go to McDonald's, he'd order 79-cent hamburgers. He never changed, even when they teased.
"I'm glad I could make you laugh," he'd say.
* * *
He spent a lovely night with friends Tuesday.
He went to McDonald's and bought two Big Macs with a coupon - the second cost a penny. He and his friend, Pat Benjamin, listened to Christmas carols. They went to a dessert party at the home of Greg Barnhill and Chuck Kaelin.
At the party, he collapsed from what friends think was a heart attack. He died at age 70.
He was in his community with his neighbors, and for that, friends are glad.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at email@example.com or 727 893-8857.
Born: Dec. 6, 1937.
Died: Dec. 12, 2007.
Services: 10 a.m. Saturday at the Seminole Garden Center, 5810 N Central Ave., Tampa. Donations to Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 360022, Tampa. The association plans to buy books for library donation in Dr. Gluckman's name.
[Last modified December 12, 2007, 20:57:20]