by Jillian Blumberg
On Thursday, November 20th, the Town of Barnstable lost one of our most well known and beloved lifeguards. Glenna Kohl passed away after her three year battle with Melanoma skin cancer.
I had the privilege of lifeguarding with Glenna at Dowses Beach in Osterville for two years. Glenna was a lifeguard for the Town of Barnstable for five years, earning positions as head guard and head swim instructor while at Dowses Beach. She was adored by the children she taught and the patrons she protected.
Glenna was known as the beautiful blonde lifeguard who was always smiling and giggling that contagious little laugh she had. Each day she toted around her Nalgene water bottle, chapstick, and a plethora of fruits and vegetables. Her favorite morning “duty” at the beach was going around picking up trash so she could collect forgotten treasures. From action figures to Popsicle stick jokes, Glenna’s locker was her shrine to goodies found buried beneath the sand.
There was an aura about Glenna that was so warm and friendly. She had this ability to make anyone who talked to her feel special and loved. This could be seen particularly through her care and devotion towards the children at the beach. Every year Dowses Beach holds a carnival to reward the children involved with the swim lesson program for all of their hard work. I remember one summer we had a “Country Ho-Down” theme. Glenna spent hours upon hours cutting out little red and white-checkered bandanas for all 200 children in the program to wear. Her devotion to the children, her co-workers, and Dowses Beach was obvious and well recognized. As a result, in 2005 she was presented with the Guard of the Year award.
Those who knew Glenna truly understand just how amazing she was. It is extremely hard to form together the words and phrases to explain Glenna. She was so many things. Simply put, Glenna was a genuinely happy and beautiful person inside and out. She loved to help others. Even when she was sick, she tried her hardest to spread the word about the dangers of overexposure to sunlight and tanning beds. One of the things I admired most about Glenna was her continuing devotion towards her fight. Even when she was uncertain if her treatments would help her, she knew that participating in medical trials, she was helping to find a cure that could one day save others.
Despite her grueling battle with treatments and on going attempts to fight this disease Glenna never forgot about others. I remember when I was a sophomore in college, extremely stressed out from schoolwork; Glenna sent me a little care package. It contained organic teas, granola bars, and colorings of Disney Princesses and vegetables (a very Glenna thing to do, she loved her veggies!). She always knew how to make you smile and get over those little bumps in the road while she herself was trying to make it over this mountain.
It is safe to say that all who knew Glenna Kohl now have a guardian angel well certified in CPR and First Aid watching over them. As our hearts begin to heal, we must remember Glenna for all of her many attributes she contributed to this world and touched our lives with. Rest easy, Glenna… ”you’re in the arms of the angel, may you find comfort there.” I love you, Glenna.