At 90, Port Moody's Charles "Chuck" Glover has been some places and learned some things. And now the spry nonagenarian is looking to give back, and pass along some of his unique skills.
In addition to being a world-travelled Second World War veteran and a hot rod magazine publisher, he possesses the unique steady hand to be an expert in art restoration and the Japanese art of bonsai - growing miniatures trees. He's now looking to sell several of his prize trees and donate the proceeds to the Crossroads Hospice Society.
"I fell in love with bonsai when I was in Japan just after the bomb was dropped. I was part of the occupation troops. I saw these bonsai and I was absolutely fascinated with them. That's where it all began really," he said.
After getting his education at Syracuse University, where he was a friend and classmate of Hollywood funny man Jerry Stiller - best known for playing Frank Costanza, George's addled father on TV's Seinfeld - Glover moved to California where he reconnected with bonsai. He has been cultivating them since finding some in a Japanese neighbourhood in Los Angeles while working as a publisher in the 1950s. His hope is to turn this lengthy love affair with the plant into a fundraiser for Crossroads. Details of the charity sale are yet to be sorted out, as he is still looking for an appropriate public or commercial space where he'll be allowed to sell them.
Glover has had a rapport with Crossroads since he first donated while grieving the loss of his wife five years ago.
"When my wife died, I was in a depressive state. My son and I had been collecting coins in various containers and I said, 'Why don't we take them all to the hospice?'" he said.
Putting his own twist on the art of bonsai, Glover only plants native trees, as opposed to traditional Japanese ones. His trees require very little maintenance beyond what regular plants need, except for some occasional branch trimming and, once every few years, a trimming of the roots and replacement of the soil.
"Some of them will last eight to 10 years without much work," he said.
The trees will likely sell for anywhere from $50 to $80, Glover speculated, but could go for more at auction.
There's also the matter of art restoration. In addition to passing on some of his beloved trees, Glover hopes to mentor someone to continue on with his passions.
"It's a strange combination, I'll admit, but I'm looking for somebody I can train as an apprentice," he said. Much like bonsai, Glover's passion for giving new life to antiquities runs deep.
"I've been restoring art and antiques since I was about 17 or 18. Some of them are quite valuable [all of the items are kept at the home of a family member]. I've got some ancient Greek vases that I put together at that time."
Glover was working in a drug store as a young man when the owner's wife offered him a box of broken pottery she had picked up at auction.
"She brought back a box of assorted pieces and said "Chuck, do you want this box? And I said, 'Sure, is the Pope Catholic?'"
Glover painstakingly took the shards, sorted them, and reassembled them into complete vases after they had been in pieces for centuries. As he got out of publishing, he pursued art restoration full time and offered classes.
Those interested in contacting Glover to offer a space to sell his bonsai, or learn about art restoration, can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.