Baxter remembered for 'doing the right thing'

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

Glenn Baxter died Feb. 28, 2014 at the age of 79. The founder of Nor-Del Cablevision left his wife and five sons a legacy in the community. CONTRIBUTED

Glenn Baxter died Feb. 28, 2014 at the age of 79. The founder of Nor-Del Cablevision left his wife and five sons a legacy in the community. CONTRIBUTED


Glenn Baxter didn't do anything for what he might get out of it. He did things for others, for the community or its organizations simply because he wanted to help.

“Dad was the type of individual that did everything for one reason – because it was the right thing to do,” said Mark Baxter, one of the five sons who lost their father when he died Feb. 28, 2014 at age 79.

Glenn is also survived by his wife of 57 years, Velma, sons Ken and his wife Helen, Mark, Ricky, Don and his wife Nancy, and Brian and his wife Mary. There are also seven grandchildren in the Baxter family.

Don and Mark were with their mom Thursday afternoon, March 6 and spoke of Glenn's unselfish nature.

“Whatever he did in his life was to make someone else's life around him a little easier or enjoyable,” said Mark, adding family, friends and community was everything to Glenn.

As a family, the Baxters moved their household, following Glenn's career in engineering as he designed cable systems for various companies.

Don said Glenn was never a selfish person with Mark adding he was always very private and quiet, so people might not know about many of Glenn's contributions.

He wasn't private about sharing his time with others and welcomed people into his life.

“You came into our home and you were family, no matter what,” said Don.

The boys said people liked to be at the Baxter home, where they felt welcome and things were a little different. As an engineer, Glenn liked to try to improve on ideas and try them out in his home. Before surround systems were popular in homes, Glenn created an early version of a home theatre system that his boys and their friends and family enjoyed.

Even their Norwich home includes a specially-designed grilling system to allow for barbecuing without having to go out into inclement weather.

Velma described Glenn as being ahead of his time and always thinking of ways to improve on existing technology.

His ideas and knowledge were well-respected in the communications industry and Glenn was often called to speak to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission, and invited to give his opinion on various topics.

In 1979, as a retirement project, Glenn started Nor-Del Cablevision. The family chose to move to Norwich because the cable licence was available for the area. Since starting the business, Nor-Del has provided up-to-date services and products and often ahead of larger providers because it is easier and faster to implement new services to a smaller customer base. Now, the five Baxter sons all work at Nor-Del in various capacities.

Mark said Glenn was a workaholic. He told people he was going to work right up to his last day. And he did.

Glenn was working at home the day he fell, breaking his hip and hitting his head, which caused bleeding in his brain. After several weeks in hospital, Glenn finally retired.

Mark explained attendants at Glenn's funeral on Wed., March 5 were asked to wear bright colours and to help it be a celebration of retirement.

Not only has the Baxter family lost its patriarch and the community lost a dedicated resident, but the telecommunications industry has lost a passionate contributor.

Many of the products and services available today in terms of smart phones and television design were things Glenn had imagined for years.

“When I think of all the things I thought of so many years ago in my research, it's just phenomenal," he said during an interview with the Gazette in 2009.

In the 1950s, shortly after he graduated from Ryerson University as an engineering technologist, Glenn worked for Bell/Northern Labs where one of his major projects was to research the feasibility of a flat screen television. He was involved in studies at that time that laid the groundwork for today's technology.

“We were always looking forward,” he had said.

It was about 50 years ago now that Glenn worked on a project to develop a telephone with a screen that would allow each user to see the other. He was able to produce the visual phone, but wasn't happy with the clarity of the picture. Glenn marveled at how the technology he envisioned had become a reality in the Internet age.

Nor-Del Cablevision was Glenn's passion.

“I just love it, that's why I don't let go,” he said in the interview.

That passion was what drove the company to success and its naming as the first-ever Business of the Year Award winner by the Township of Norwich Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

The award included a list of the many ways Glenn contributed to the telecommunications industry beyond Nor-Del Cablevision. Glenn was a past director and president of the Ontario Cable Telecommunications Association; past director and vice chairman of the Canadian Cable Television Association and past director and president of the Norwich Chamber of Commerce.

When Glenn received the award, he paid much credit to Velma for raising their five sons and allowing him to travel as necessary for work.

Nor-Del and the Baxters have also made it a point to contribute to the community, including a $25,000 donation to the Norwich Medical Centre; bursaries to graduates of the former Norwich and District High School; and a $100,000 donation to the Norwich Community Centre renovations which resulted in the arena being named Nor-Del Arena.

Through Nor-Del, Glenn supported students at the former high school by providing camera equipment and the use of the Nor-Del studio for students to expand their learning opportunities. Nor-Del also supports Norwich Merchants, Norwich Minor Hockey, figure skating and soccer programs.

The Baxter family knows Glenn left some very large shoes to fill, but they feel confident he has instilled in them what they need to keep things running smoothly.

“We still should be able to carry on his retirement plan,” said Don, with Mark adding, “His legacy.”

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