Entrepreneur was ‘a pillar’ of Dayton business and philanthropic community, family said
Roger Glass, president and chief executive of Marion’s Piazza, died Wednesday, his family said.
He was 79 years old.
Glass — president and CEO of Marion’s for 16 years and an employee of the family-owned company for five decades — was the second-generation owner of Marion’s. His father, Marion Glass, founded the business in 1965.
“He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, employees of Marion’s, and his business and community associates,” the Glass family said in a statement.
Glass had been fighting a blood disorder, said RJ McKay, Glass’ nephew.
“It happened sooner than we thought‚” McKay said. “We thought he would have at least a few more years.”
“We’ve been in business for 57 years and we have a lot of loyal customers. We’re very thankful for them because without them we wouldn’t be around,” Glass told a Dayton Daily News reporter three weeks ago.
“I know our employees look forward to it every year and they take a lot of pride in winning,” he said. “Those kids work hard and without our loyal employees we wouldn’t be where we are. I just think so many people know about this (contest) and look forward to (it). I know I do.”
Glass was featured in a Dayton.com video and story from 2019.
“I have been able to keep Marion’s Piazza going strong as a second-generation owner by following very simple business practices,” he told Dayton.com in 2019. “The pizza and sandwiches one receives today are the same pizzas and sandwiches one received 53 years ago. In other words, the quality and quantity of our food products have never changed since we opened in 1965.”
The business today has restaurants in north and south Dayton, the Dayton Mall area, Centerville, Beavercreek, Kettering, Englewood, Troy and Mason.
“Expansion is always on my mind, whether it will be replacing an existing location with a larger building or expanding to a new location,” he told this news outlet in 2019.
The restaurants had long received accolades. In 2017, “Pizza Today” put Marion’s atop its Hot 100 list for the fourth year out of the previous five. And Marion’s Piazza swept three categories in the Dayton.com Best of 2018 contest, placing first for “Best Pizza Restaurant,” “Best Square-Cut Pizza” and “Best Restaurant to Take an Out-of-Towner.”
Glass was also known for philanthropy, with the most visible examples of his generosity at the University of Dayton and Chaminade-Julienne High School.
“Roger Glass embodied the spirit of entrepreneurism in Dayton,” said Chris Kershner, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Mr. Glass’ success in developing a legacy Dayton business led him to give back to this community in so many ways,” Kershner added. “He was a true corporate leader.”
In November 2021, the University of Dayton announced that the $45 million Roger Glass Center for the Arts would open in the 2023-24 school year.
“Roger was a dear man with a caring heart, a wicked sense of humor, a gentle nature, a love for the arts and a deep connection to his alma mater,” said Eric Spina, president of UD. “While I am sad that he won’t be able to experience in person the completed Roger Glass Center for the Arts, it is a fitting tribute that he will be forever memorialized and remembered at UD.”
“When I went to UD, everything was scattered,” Glass, a 1967 UD graduate, said at the time of UD’s announcement. “This is an opportunity for all of the arts at UD to come together and have an amazing place to display their talents. Not only the university but the community will be able to take advantage of the center for the arts.”
A stadium at Chaminade Julienne is also named after Glass.