Bob Glaser is a man who needs no introduction. He’s a legend in the community, and for good reason. His involvement in the community is unparalleled; he is a connector, leader, and changemaker. It’s safe to say that he’s touched countless lives so far and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Bob’s career path has been pretty interesting. On the day he retired from Sears at 55 years old, he had nine job offers on the table. That’s the kind of man Bob is - hardworking, dedicated, motivated, and highly respected. Bob eventually landed at Truman Heartland Community Foundation (back then, it was called the Independence Community Foundation). He didn’t even know what a community foundation was when he started; he just knew he wanted to help. As he learned the ropes, he quickly became passionate about the mission and the power community foundations have to change and lift whole communities.

Bob’s legacy at Truman Heartland Community Foundation is one that will never be forgotten. He was the very first CEO of the foundation, and he led with great passion and dedication. In 2018, he was recognized as the foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year for his work with nonprofits throughout Eastern Jackson County. He is a true believer in the power of the THCF mission – private giving for the public good and is a proud donor advised fundholder and Legacy Society member.

When he was directing the foundation, he recognized the need to establish a signature special event to strengthen the organization by raising additional funds for foundation operations. Today, we call this very special annual event the Toast to Our Towns Gala.

The very first gala was held at the newly renovated RLDS Auditorium in Independence. It was a black-tie event, but because it was at a religious institution, no alcohol was allowed. A pre-gala cocktail party was held down the way, and streetcar shuttles took people from the bar back up to the event. They also had a bus borrowed from the Heartland Trailways Bus Company. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, the electronics and hydraulics went out on the bus, rendering the door useless. Guests, dressed in tuxedoes, ballgowns, and all their finery, had no choice but to shimmy through the windows to get out. Despite the unexpected climbing adventure, everyone had a great time, making it a huge success and a very memorable event.

In a different year, the gala was held at the Truman Library to mix it up (and avoid the need for any buses). Pre-gala cocktails were served in the library, and it was only a short walk down to the tent in the parking lot where dinner would be served. All was going according to plan … until … thirty minutes into dinner, the generator for the tent completely died. No amount of button-pushing, pounding, or pleading would make it start up again. Quick-witted as ever, Bob tied back the flaps to the tent and had staff pull their cars around and turn on their headlights. Stan Crumbaugh saved the day by retrieving a small generator that would run the microphone, and the program continued as if it had been planned that way all along. Bob swears he had a full head of jet-black hair until that night!

Today, the Toast to Our Towns Gala is still going strong. We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings, but the spirit of community and philanthropy that Bob instilled all those years ago lives on. Bob once said he wanted to be remembered as a man who tried to make his community a better place. He plans on attending this year’s annual Toast to Our Towns Gala on September 21, as he always does. Make plans to reserve a table or grab some tickets and tell him in person what a profound impact he has had (and continues to have) on Eastern Jackson County and beyond!