Early life and education
John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio, the son of John Herschel Glenn Sr., who worked for a plumbing firm, and Clara Teresa née Sproat, a teacher. His parents had married shortly before his father, a member of the American Expeditionary Force, left for the Western Front during World War I. The family moved to New Concord, Ohio, soon after his birth, and his father started his own business, the Glenn Plumbing Company. He took his first flight in an airplane with his father when he was eight years old. He became fascinated by flight, and built model airplanes from balsa wood kits. Along with his adopted sister Jean, he attended New Concord Elementary School. He washed cars and sold rhubarb to earn money to buy a bicycle, after which he took a job delivering The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. He was a member of the Ohio Rangers, an organization similar to the Cub Scouts. His boyhood home in New Concord has been restored as a historic house museum and education center.
Glenn attended New Concord High School, where he played on the varsity team as a and linebacker. He also made the varsity basketball and tennis teams, and was involved with Hi-Y, a junior branch of the YMCA. After graduating in 1939, Glenn entered Muskingum College, where he studied engineering, and Annie majored in music, with minors in secretarial studies and physical education, as she was on the swimming and volleyball teams. Glenn was a member of the Stag Club fraternity there, and played on the football team. He earned a private pilot license under the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1941, gaining credit in his physics course, since the course included aerodynamics, combustion and heat transfer. He did not complete his senior year in residence or take a proficiency exam, both required by the school for its Bachelor of Science degree. Muskingum awarded his degree in 1962, after Glenn's Mercury space flight.