LandPaths' field director Jonathan Glass dies at 36
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 2:45 p.m.
Santa Rosa native Jonathan Glass, who led thousands of people through Sonoma County's park lands and open spaces as LandPaths' field programs director, died Monday. He was 36.
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For many, Glass will be remembered as standing before a group of people at a trailhead, holding a clipboard and gracefully managing the crowd.
Only those closest to Glass knew he struggled with depression, an illness his family said led him to take his own life. On Monday, Glass jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. His body has not yet been found.
Glass leaves behind his wife, Amie Glass, 5-year-old daughter, Eden, and a decade of work connecting people with the county's varied natural spaces.
"None of us will be able to fully understand and appreciate what he was struggling with," said his brother, Andrew Glass Hastings, 32, of Seattle. "What we know of Jonathan was that even with that struggle, he continued to give everything he had to his family and his community."
A graduate of Santa Rosa High who married his high school sweetheart, Glass had deep ties throughout a broad spectrum of the county, from government officials to outdoor enthusiasts.
Glass most recently handled much of the day-to-day operations of LandPaths, a nonprofit conservation group with an office on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa.
He ran the Willow Creek Preserve, an extension of Sonoma Coast State Park managed by LandPaths. He organized teams of volunteers who kept the preserve open through "sweat equity," cutting trees and clearing trails, said Craig Anderson, LandPaths executive director. "He was our heart and soul of that program," Anderson said.
Glass was a key volunteer with the Santa Rosa Southeast Greenway, an ongoing community effort to transform 50 acres once intended to be an extension of Highway 12 into an urban park.
Glass was the kind of father who rode his daughter to kindergarten on the back of a bicycle, his brother said.
"He was at his best when he was with his family, outside on a hike or gardening or experiencing nature and all of its joy," Glass Hastings said.
Glass learned to navigate wildlife and Mother Nature's force backpacking in the Sierra with his parents, aunts, uncles, brother and intrepid grandmother.
Glass started dating his best friend, Amie Gerard, as a junior at Santa Rosa High School.
A football player and member of the choir, Glass started the school's US club, which stood for United Sexualities, because he was offended by homophonic banter.
Glass, who graduated in 1994, later told a Press Democrat reporter that he felt it was unfair that heterosexual students could flirt but homosexual students could not.
Glass Hastings said people looked to his brother "to set things on the right course, not necessarily based on what was popular or what everything else was doing, but what he thought was right."
Glass and Gerard both attended UC Davis, where Glass majored in environmental science. They married during their junior year. They traveled extensively through Asia and Europe during months-long excursions he told his family shaped his view that environmentalism is really about people.
"Caring for people and caring for the environment had to go hand in hand," said his brother-in-law, Andy Gerard, 40, of Santa Rosa. "He believed it and he lived it."
Glass had a long ponytail and beard when he started volunteering with LandPaths in 2001. He was hired within two years and quickly took on key responsibilities and grew into a fastidious and dedicated employee, Anderson said.
On Tuesday, word of Glass' death began to send a ripple of shock and grief among those who knew him. At the end of Tuesday's City Council meeting, Santa Rosa Vice Mayor Erin Carlstrom gasped after receiving word on her iPhone that Glass died.
Carlstrom, who said Glass and his wife were friends and attended her wedding, said she had offered to appoint Glass to the city's planning commission because of his work on open space issues, although he declined.
"Jonathan was thoughtful and insightful, dedicated to his work with LandPaths and making the outdoors and our open spaces accessible to the public," Carlstrom said.
In addition to his child, wife and brother, Glass is survived by parents David and Linda Glass of Santa Rosa, and grandparents Phyllis Glass and Edward and Maribel Lyman, all of Ridgecrest.
A celebration of his life is pending. Memorial donations may be made to the Jonathan Glass Memorial Fund at Exchange Bank.