Born in the small community of Seward, Nebraska, Glema Mahr received her B.A. at State Teachers College in Peru, Nebraska. She was employed by American Airlines from 1940 to 1949. On December 22, 1941, Glema married Dr. Merle Mahr, also from Seward. She taught at the Memphis School of Commerce for four years while Dr. Mahr completed his surgical residency. In 1953, the couple moved to Madisonville, Kentucky, when Dr. Mahr became one of five physicians to organize and establish Trover Clinic. In November 1985, Regional Medical Center dedicated the Merle M. Mahr Cancer Center, in recognition of Dr. Mahr’s lifelong commitment to health care in our community.
The Mahrs brought with them from Nebraska a love for the land and an interest in farming. In 1963, they purchased land and christened it Hidden Hills Farm. Clearing land, planting, and raising cattle and horses, Glema embraced this opportunity to make her dream a reality. She raised registered Black Angus cattle and late in her life could be seen from time to time walking in the fields, taking in the sights and sounds of the land while checking on the herd.
Sadly, Glema Mahr died in her home on November 2, 2009 at the age of ninety-two. She was the kind of person a community needs. She combined a wealth of experience with a healthy portion of community pride and generous commitment to helping others. She moved easily from farm to office, from classroom to concert hall, from advisory committees to volunteer groups. Glema enjoyed membership in Discover Downtown and the Community Improvement Foundation, and she served on the Boards of the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity of Hopkins County. She also served six years respectively on the Board of Directors of the United Way and the Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library. She was an Ambassador Emeritus for the Chamber of Commerce and at the time of her passing served on the Board of Directors for the YMCA and Madisonville College Foundation. Glema had also been a member of two local book clubs since the 1950’s.
During her time in Madisonville, Glema earned many well-deserved awards. In 1997, she was inducted into the Hopkins County Hall of Fame, along with her late husband. Also in 1997, she was honored by the Madisonville Lions Club as Woman of the Year, and in 1998, she was awarded Hopkins County Farmer of the Year. On October 19, 2000, Glema was recognized as Woman of Achievement by the Madisonville Business and Professional Women’s Club. She also received the Citizen of the Year Award from the Madisonville Elks Lodge # 738 for 2000-01. Glema received both the state and the regional 2001 Benefactor’s Awards from the Council for Resource Development. On May 4, 2001 she was presented with the first of the two for the State of Kentucky, “in recognition of outstanding service on behalf of Madisonville Community College.” The second was presented to her at a Gala in Washington, D.C. on November 30, 2001, where she received national recognition. Out of the eight states represented in Washington, Glema was selected over all to represent Region IV. On January 20, 2005, Mrs. Mahr received the Loman C. Trover Health Care Award, presented at the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber Banquet for her “generous support of the Merle Mahr Cancer Center as well as her efforts on behalf of many other area institutions and programs.” Then, on February 24, 2005 she was presented with the Community Service Award from the Hopkins County Conservation District. On November 12, 2005, she received the Benefactor of the Year award by Kentucky Community and Technical College Systems at their Annual Gala. Mrs. Mahr was delighted to receive the 2005 Governor’s Milner Award for outstanding contributions to the arts, which was presented to her at the Governor’s Awards in the Arts on February 9, 2006. The Kentucky Second District Music Educators presented Glema with the Friend of Music Award prior to the All District Band performance on January 12, 2008, the day before her birthday!
A dedicated and active supporter of the arts, Glema believed that the quality of life in a community can be immeasurably enhanced when people of all ages and backgrounds have access to the arts. She remained an active patron of the Center, attending nearly every performance; the last being a Chamber Series with Richter and Uzur on October 29th, just days before her passing. She also continuted to help with the day to day activities as a Center volunteer.Her thirteenth year of serving on the Center’s Advisory Committee was as an ex-officio member, and she was in her fifteenth year serving as a volunteer. As a Center volunteer, Glema logged approximately two hundred hours each season as she ushered children in the School Days Matinees and worked as a Docent faithfully each week. It was Glema who organized and coordinated the Center’s first Docent Program, which provides volunteer help daily for The Anne P. Baker Gallery. Glema supported the Center financially since 1992, and sponsored the chamber series since 1995, which honored her by being named the Glema Mahr Chamber Music Series.
On February 29, 2000, the Madisonville Community College Fine Arts Center was renamed the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts in honor and recognition of Glema’s contributions to this Center, this College, and this Community. For the fifteenth season, the Glema Mahr Chamber Music Series has been made possible through the generous support of Glema Mahr.