Donald Clement Gladieux, 85, of Hendersonville, a local business leader and outstanding animal rights advocate, died at his home on June 5.
Donald Gladieux was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on January 14, 1924 to the late Veronica Pepe and Clem Gladieux. After earning a Purple Heart as an Army paratrooper in the Pacific during World War II, he attended college on the G.I. Bill and joined the Kimberly-Clark Corporation as a human resources manager (then called ìpersonnel managerî). He was promoted to plant manager for the company, first in Wisconsin, then in Tennessee, and finally in Hendersonville at Berkeley Mills, which he managed from 1972 until 1981.
He lost his mother to tuberculosis while he was just a toddler and was raised partly by his maternal grandparents on their farm. When his father remarried, Don returned to Fort Wayne, where he attended Catholic schools until he was old enough to contribute to the family income. Still a teenager, he worked as a service station attendant, stockroom clerk, and assembler on a production line manufacturing motors for General Electric.
He went into service in February 1943 and volunteered for the Army paratroops. He was assigned to F Company, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne division, which was headquartered at Camp Mackall near Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Jump school was at Ft. Benning in Georgia; the unit also trained at Camp Polk, Louisiana before departing for the Asiatic-Pacific theatre in May 1944.
As a paratroop rifleman, Don Gladieux took part in the Battle of Leyte and the Battle of Luzon before being wounded by enemy fire in an assault on Manila in the Philippines. He was awarded an Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Ribbon with three battle stars, a Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one star, a Good Conduct medal, and a Purple Heart.
He returned home to marry Rose Marie Shattuck, also a native of Fort Wayne, with whom he had corresponded throughout the war. Despite not having finished tenth grade, his test scores qualified him for admission to Indiana University, where he completed his A.B. degree in 1951 and an M.B.A. in 1953. He was recruited by Kimberly-Clark and joined the company as personnel manager for a plant in Menasha, Wisconsin.
In the 1960s Don achieved notable success negotiating labor contracts with the Teamsters at Kimberly-Clarkís plant in Niagara Falls. He became known within the company as a tough-minded trouble shooter and turnaround agent. When he was sent to Hendersonvilleís Berkeley Mills plant in 1972, his assignment was to get its affairs in order and close it down. But finding the town and people of Hendersonville very appealing, he decided to attempt to redeem Berkeley Mills and keep it open. His efforts were successful, and the plant remains in operation today.
Upon taking early retirement from Kimberly-Clark in order to remain in Hendersonville, Don became an investment advisor. He and Rose Marie founded Investment Planners International in partnership with Howard Smith. Other ventures included buying and rehabilitating the former Belk Simpson building on Main Street. He and Rose Marie also purchased and managed the General Travel Agency, building new offices at 117 West Barnwell Street.
Don, Rose Marie, and their three daughters lived in the Tranquility development in Flat Rock, and it was here that Don befriended a neighborís cow and decided to save it from slaughter. The story found its way into the Hendersonville Times-News and resulted in Don receiving distress calls whenever an animal was found abandoned or injured at a roadside. He and Rose Marie took up the cause of animal welfare in Henderson County and founded the Animal Welfare Alliance, a 501(c)(3) foundation whose mission was to try to persuade various local animal welfare organizations to work together more effectively. The Animal Welfare Alliance has also underwritten free spay/neutering campaigns in cooperation with several area veterinary clinics.
Don was a major contributor to All Creatures Great and Small, a no-kill animal shelter whose facility was unfortunately overcrowded and under-financed. In an unofficial capacity he labored to rectify the shelterís standing in the community and with authorities in Raleigh, so that its hundreds of resident animals would not have to be destroyed. His efforts were partially successful, buying time so that many of the animals could be adopted or transferred to other shelters before All Creatures closed in 2008.
He was a lifelong Catholic whose differences with certain church policies didnít undermine his faith. He and Rose Marie once spent a summer volunteering at a Boy Scout camp. He served on several state and regional business advisory boards. He was a Patron of Quality at Western Carolina University and an honorary Kentucky Colonel.
He was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by Rose Marie, his wife of 62 years; his daughter Deni and her husband, Will McIntyre, of Winston-Salem; daughter Lynn and her husband, Steve Hamilton, of The Woodlands, Texas; and daughter Cheryl and her husband, Ron Allari, of Alexandria, Kentucky. He is survived by three grandchildren: Jennifer Powell, Emily Powell, and Shannon Powell. He is survived by his sister Evelyn and by his brothers Gerald, Bill, and Tom.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Animal Welfare Alliance (P.O. Box 533, Flat Rock, NC 28731) or to Four Seasons Compassion for Life (571 South Allen Rd., Flat Rock, NC 28731).