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Rest in Peace Glen O'Neal Kirsch

Editor's Note: This was originally published in 2010.

It is with very deep regret that I report the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Glen O. Kirsch. Glen, the Executive Vice President here at Asset Strategies International, was “Mr. Inside.”  While I was “Mr. Outside” and my responsibility was to travel the world meeting with clients and vendors, Glen stayed at our offices in Rockville, Maryland and made sure everything ran smoothly and most importantly, “ran right.”

By “ran right,” Glen saw to it that each and every customer was treated honestly and fairly. He would never execute a trade if he didn’t think it was in the clients’ best interest. In fact, on more than one occasion, he talked a client out of a transaction – even though it meant we would not make a profit that time.

When clients called ASI for the first time to place an order, they were surprised when Glen asked them, “Why do you want to buy precious metals?”  He wanted to make certain every potential client understood the pros and the cons of what he was about to do. He insisted that every person who called to inquire of and make investments be an informed consumer, not an impulse buyer.

As a result, Glen quickly developed a level of trust with his clients that was legendary in the industry. Time after time, people would call him, saying they wanted to discuss a precious-metals investment. But in fact, they often had a family issue or personal problem they wanted to share with him. Glen always took the time to hear them out and to offer his sage advice. (I have to confess, I would sometimes get frustrated that he would spend so much time on the phone with someone without making a sale. If you ever called our offices and were fortunate enough to speak with Glen, you know exactly what I mean.)

Glen O’Neal Kirsch graduated with a degree in economics and history from Penn State University. He was fiercely loyal to his alma mater and to the Sigma Chi fraternity, Alpha Chi Chapter.

Glen would have made one of the world’s great high-school teachers but instead decided to enter the business world. We first became acquainted when he joined me at the Washington, D.C. offices of Deak-Perera – at the time, the world’s largest precious-metals broker.

While serving as Chief Executive Officer at Deak-Perera, Glen helped develop one of the very first precious-metals certificate programs in the United States. Two decades later, working together we improved on that concept even more, when we partnered with the Perth Mint in Western Australia to develop the Perth Mint Certificate Program. Under Glen’s leadership, Deak-Perera also pioneered in the marketing of platinum and palladium to individual investors.
Glen and I really got to know each other in 1975, when the U.S. State Department asked us to travel to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

During our time at Eglin, we assisted Vietnamese refugees arriving there to exchange their gold and foreign currencies for U.S. dollars, which could give them a new start in this country. You really get to know someone when you spend 6 months with them working 12 hours a day in 100-degree heat in a tent in the Florida panhandle, trying to help some of the world’s most desperate refugees.

Even under the most trying of circumstances, Glen never became abrupt or dismissive. He was always kind, patient, thoughtful, and considerate, whether dealing with a former official who escaped with a million dollars’ worth of gold or a penniless peasant who had nothing but a handful of now-worthless South Vietnamese script. I’ve told this story many times before, but if you’ve never read “A Tale of the Taels,” please let me know, and I’d be happy to send you a copy.

Glen and I decided to leave Deak-Perera and form our own foreign currencies and precious-metals company. In 1982 we founded International Financial Consultants, where I served in the capacity of president and Glen served as executive vice president. We kept the same roles and titles when we subsequently changed the name to Asset Strategies International.

During the past 28 years, Glen had two families, one at home and one at the office. He dearly loved his wife Patty and their two sons, Ryan and Dylan. But he also loved his office family. The staff knew he could be firm. Glen was a big guy, in size and in spirit. And let me tell you from experience, you didn’t want an angry Glen coming across the desk at you!
But everyone also knew Glen had a heart as big as the Grand Canyon. If he ever chewed out a staffer, the next day, by way of apology, he’d bring in lunch for everyone at the office.

Glen was an avid numismatist who began collecting coins at the age of 10. It was a hobby and a passion that he never outgrew. He loved talking with a client about the history of a coin, how its age, condition, and rarity determined its value, and everything else he thought the client should know. He was an enthusiastic investor in rare coins, for himself and for our company. Hearing a delighted outburst when he found another gem for his collection will be just one of many things we’ll miss about him.

Let’s see, what else can I tell you about my partner, my colleague, and my best friend?  Unlike me, Glen was an enthusiastic hunter. That started as a child in Erie, Pennsylvania, when his dad taught him the basics of hunting. Later he exchanged a rifle for a bow and arrow. But every deer season would still find him traipsing through the woods, eager to bring some venison home to his family. He bragged about his skill by saying, “If it’s brown, it’s down.”  And I guess it was true, because he had a freezer full of meat almost every year.

As some of you know, Glen had been battling some health issues for a while. We did not think they were life-threatening, though, until two weeks ago when Glen succumbed to the complications of surgery and passed away peacefully.

Glen’s widow Patty and their two sons, Ryan and Dylan ask that you not send flowers but instead await further word while they consider the wide range of Glen’s interests, which included wildlife preservation, Penn State University and his beloved Sigma Chi fraternity, Alpha Chi Chapter.

But even more importantly, Glen would tell you that the memorial he would most appreciate would be for you to take care of your family and to treat everyone fairly as he did. Glen has left us an unforgettable and lasting legacy of kindness and compassion that is indelibly written on our hearts and minds. 

So long, old friend. It was an honor to have been your partner, friend, and brother for the past 36 years. I will love and miss you, always.

Michael Checkan