For most of her life, Aiken resident Marge Glauser’s career has focused on helping people and communities with such organizations as the United Way and in Aiken, Area Churches Together Serving, also known as ACTS.
For the past 20 years, she has been with Gary Gilbault, her companion and best friend, serving for about 10 of those years as his primary caregiver following his first heart attack.
Glauser, 73, remains amazed and grateful that the National AARP organization has selected her as a National Caregiver Award winner. She is representing South Carolina, while 52 others are representing the other state and three U.S. territories.
AARP South Carolina President Liz Norris formally presented the award to her at St. Gerard Catholic Church on Friday. S.C. Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, also read a state resolution that recognizes Glauser’s dedication to her companion. A “Portrait of Care” of the couple was displayed at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month before it was given to them.
Glauser had submitted her story to the national AARP earlier this year. When she learned about her selection, “I just sat there and bawled,” she said. “It humbled me … But I’ve been doing what I’ve always done.”
A Native American from Michigan, Gilbault overcame a harsh childhood, successfully going on to college and later embarking on a career primarily in the transportation field. Even after the first heart attack, he opened his own business as a handyman.
An Ohio native, Glauser chose teaching in college, but by the 1960s, she began work with a United Way office, getting promotions over many years. When the couple met, Glauser had raised two daughters and was twice widowed. She continues to support Gilbault despite her own serious kidney issues.
“I was gifted when she came into my life,” Gilbault said. “She and God have been right with me all the time.”
They also cite the support of the other parishioners at St. Gerard who are a true family to them. The couple also embrace the kindness and care of Lorie Densmore, a Halcyon Hospice nurse they know has a key role in giving Gilbault additional years.
The state AARP officials know Glauser well; she spent five years as a volunteer. In a press release, AARP South Carolina State Director Teresa Arnold said that family caregivers are the backbone of the state care, “serving a crucial role in helping older South Carolinians and other loved ones remain in their own homes and communities.”
Father Emamanual Andinam, the church priest, cites Glauser’s willingness to serve in many ways.
“She is always giving and helping others,” he said. “I’m so happy she got this recognition, but I know she didn’t do it for that.”
Rob Novit is a general assignment reporter.