HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Local attorney, Mark McDaniel said you can sum up John Glenn's personality in just one word, humble. He served with the legendary astronaut for three years on the NASA Advisory Council. They both cycled off the board in 2005 but remained close friends.
“A legend, a pioneer, a person who loved mankind," said McDaniel.
Of all the impressive photos and memorabilia on his office wall, he'll tell you his favorites involve Glenn. “In everything he did, it was about other people," he said. “Humble and caring person, If you were walking down the sidewalk and you were with him, you wouldn’t know you was with a national hero.”
Mark said it was sometimes a bit of a tease - a man with so many stories he could tell, was more interested in hearing about others, than reliving his glory days.
“You couldn’t get Sen. Glenn to talk about the past. He was always looking to the future, always positive, always looking for ways to inspire our youth," said McDaniel.
He said one time he did ask Glenn about whether he was nervous, being the first American Astronaut in space. “I said to him, Sen. Glenn to say the least I bet you were pretty apprehensive. That Atlas 5 rocket didn’t have a lot of success, it had blown up in a lot of tests. He said, no, not really, it was my duty. And that was it. That was Sen. Glenn," said McDaniel.
Glenn was less about talk, and more about action. “He didn’t brag, he didn’t boast, he did it," said McDaniel.
When his input was requested on the NASA Advisory Council, Glenn was known for not holding back. “They had some good discussions, lively discussions, in public and private," said McDaniel.
Mark said Glenn always pushed for more - whether that was encouraging NASA to do bold experiments on the International Space Station, instead of predictable ones - or promoting STEM courses in the classroom.
"He was very concerned our nation was getting behind in the education of our youth in math and sciences and that we were falling behind in technology," said McDaniel.
Board meetings extended into something much more between the two men. They often wrote letters back-in-forth, even after both of their terms ended on the advisory council.
Mark says we didn't just lose an American hero Thursday, we lost a good person with an even bigger heart.
“If the greatest compliment you can give a person is 'a good man,' than he was a good man, a good man," said McDaniel.
As the old saying goes, behind every good man is a good woman. Mark said Glenn would often quote his wife of 73 years, Annie, like other men quoted Winston Churchill.
He also said Glenn loved coming to Huntsville and talked often about spending time at Marshall Space Flight Center.