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UT emeritus professor loved travel

Gloria Poplawsky Dean, a former business professor and department chairman at the University of Toledo Community and Technical College, died March 2 at Sunrise of Rocky River in Rocky River, Ohio. She was 90.

She had pulmonary hypertension and congestive heart failure, her husband, William E. Dean, Jr., said.

Mrs. Dean first taught business at the University of Michigan in 1950 while she earned her master’s degree in business administration. She and her first husband, Robert Poplawsky, then moved around Ohio, ultimately settling in Toledo where she taught business in UT’s community college program for about 20 years.

She started teaching night classes but moved to full-time when her three boys were old enough to care for themselves after school. Mrs. Dean was department chairman during her last five years before she retired in 1988.

“She was ahead of her time in terms of being an independent, strong woman,” said son Carl Poplawsky of Phoenix. “She had a career that was important to her during a time when a lot of women didn’t have careers. She was always determined to make her own way.”

When she wasn’t teaching, she enjoyed traveling, hiking, and backpacking.

“She really liked the mountains,” Mr. Poplawsky said. “The family would go to all the national parks out West in the summertime: Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains.”

Mrs. Dean’s first husband died in 1979, and she met her second husband six years later. The two were on the same University of Michigan alumni hiking trip in Switzerland.

“We were staying in the youth hostile in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and they had parties after the hiking events in the afternoon,” Mr. Dean said. “We met there. We had our first date in Zermatt.”

The two attended every home UM football game and watched their team compete in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. Mr. Dean proposed in Toledo at Fifi’s restaurant.

The two wed July 5, 1987, and Mrs. Dean retired from UT and moved to her husband’s home in Fairview Park, Ohio. She was honored as a professor emeritus of UT.

The couple took another alumni trip to celebrate, this time to China and Japan. Throughout their marriage they traveled the globe; their favorite destinations were Switzerland and New Zealand.

“We think Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Mr. Dean said. “We went back three or four times to visit after we were married.”

Mrs. Dean was a member of St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Rocky River and volunteered at Christ Child Society of Cleveland.

Education was very important to her, even in retirement, Mr. Dean said. The two established the Gloria P. Dean and William E. Dean Scholarship for Ohio students who want to attend the University of Michigan. They also gave financial support to the St. Labre Indian School in Montana.

The Deans also created an endowment with the Cleveland Orchestra that benefits the youth orchestra program and an endowment with the Cleveland Clinic to support medical research.

“She was a very outgoing person, a very warm person,” Mr. Dean said. “She not only liked people, but she was interested in them and concerned about their problems.”

Mrs. Dean was born Aug. 21, 1926, in Detroit to John and Josephine Hordeichik, immigrants from Russia and Poland, respectively. She graduated from Western High School in 1943 and studied business at Wayne State University where she was an active member of Pi Gamma and the Newman Club.

She graduated in 1947 and worked for four years at Montgomery Ward & Co. training new employees before she became a teacher. She enjoyed golf, bridge, and fly fishing for trout. She was a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Surviving are her husband, William E. Dean, Jr.; sons Ralph, Alan, and Carl; and six grandchildren.

A memorial reception and lunch to celebrate her life is set for April 1 at the Cleveland Yachting Club in Rocky River.

Busch Funeral and Crematory Services in Fairview Park, Ohio, is handling arrangements. 

Contact Sarah Elms at: or 419-724-6103 or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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