Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Late Obiturary

I was just perusing my latest issue of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation magazine when I noticed that the owner of the famous Glockner's Restaurant in Lacombe passed away in January. Here is his obituary from

Clifford Glockner, a fisherman and conservationist whose love and legendary knowledge of Lake Pontchartrain made him a go-to source for lake quality issues, died Friday. He was 70.

Clifford Glockner, whose knowledge and love of Lake Pontchartrain was legendary.

Whether talking with students or testifying before government panels, Mr. Glockner was a tireless advocate for the health of the lake. Carlton Dufrechou, former executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, called Mr. Glockner "one of the grandparents of the lake's comeback.''

"I'm sure he's looking down on us and watching over the Pontchartrain Basin better than ever," Dufrechou said Monday.

Dufrechou, now the general manager of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, said Mr. Glockner and his wife, Connie, were among the founders of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation in 1989. "Back then it was a brown, polluted mess," Dufrechou said of the lake. "But they saw that it could be healthy and alive."

Dufrechou still marvels at Mr. Glockner's encyclopedia-like knowledge of the lake and surrounding areas.

"If anybody knew the Pontchartrain Basin like the back of his hand it was Cliff Glockner," he said.

Connie Glockner said her husband loved teaching people about the lake and the wetlands and waterways around it. "Anytime anybody needed anything, he did it," she said.

In addition to fishing, the Glockners also owned a popular Lacombe restaurant, Glockner's Place, which was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and never reopened.

Connie Glockner said her husband of 46 years grew up in Mandeville and that the couple lived in Lacombe for 40 years, trapping and hunting and fishing. She said they met in Lacombe, when Mr. Glockner had come to chat with her father.

It was love at first sight, she said, adding, "Those blue eyes got me."
Connie Glockner said her husband had been in poor health and had battled cancer in recent years.

A fellow fisherman and longtime friend, Pete Gerica, recalled years of working with Mr. Glockner to increase awareness of the plight of Lake Pontchartrain. Gerica said Mr. Glockner's passion was protecting the lake and those who make their living from it.

"He was protective of what he admired - and he was protective of the lake," Gerica said.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Glockner is survived by a son, Ron James Glockner; a daughter, Dawn Glockner Denman; and four grandchildren.

From the LPBF newsletter, it becomes apparent as to what fantastic advocate of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin he was:

Cliff Glockner was a fearless supporter of Lake Pontchartrain, the coast and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF).

Cliff and his wife, Connie, lived as commercial fishers, hunters and trappers.
As they saw resources diminish due to pollution and wetland loss, they knew they
had to act. They began with the cause to “Save Our Lake.” LPBF’s 20-plus year
success story is intertwined with Cliff’s knowledge, support and leadership.

One of Cliff’s first battles was to eliminate shell dredging. This strip
mining of the lake’s bottom was being falsely portrayed by some as benign and as
a huge economic engine. After spending decades on the lake, Cliff knew before
the scientists that it was damaging the lake. He was one of the first commercial
fishers with the courage to speak out and emboldened LPBF on shell dredging. Shell
dredging was banned in 1992.

He was opposed to the old Bonnet Carre Diversion project. He had seen numerous
algal blooms due to prior openings and knew the harm the deluge of water created.
The Bonnet Carre project was killed in 1996.

Although a commercial fisherman, Cliff recognized the damage that gill
netting caused by incidental kill of noncommercial species. He supported the
ban on gill netting in Lake Pontchartrain though he had at times supported his own
family with it. Gill netting was banned in Lake Pontchartrain in the 1990’s.

He sounded the bell of awareness on the loss of wetlands for all of Louisiana.
He was an advocate for the closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO),
and he contributed ideas and information used to formulate plans for the closure.
The MRGO was closed in 2009.

Cliff knew that the best way to save wetlands was to take them out of commerce for development. He and Connie were instrumental in establishment of the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge formed in the 1990’s: now over 16,000 acres of protected marsh.

Cliff was known for his knowledge of the Pontchartrain Basin. His predictions
of environmental consequences and ecological processes were often sketched
on the back of a napkin at his seafood restaurant, Glockner’s Place. He had the
respect of the scientists and government agency representatives who visited with
him. Cliff was sometimes known as Dr. Cliff Glockner after his many prescient
insights on Lake Pontchartrain. He influenced fishermen and many others to
be passionate about the lake and coastal environment. We, in the Pontchartrain
Basin, mourn his loss. His life is a lasting inspiration to us all.

RIP, Mr. Glockner. We got to know Glockner's place a few years before Katrina and enjoyed every visit. They had the best #1 boiled crabs in the area and the sunsets from Lake Road were always beautiful. Thanks to all of the Glockner's for fond memories.

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