Dr. Fay Perry Greene, 94, a longtime resident and physician/surgeon in the Parkersburg, W.Va., and surrounding area, passed away on Oct. 27, 2012, at his home of 10 years in Carlsbad, San Diego County, Calif., with his daughters and son, Sandra, Laura and John at his side.
His children, granddaughters and son-in-law cared for him during his illness, as he left his family with love, grace and humor, even in his final days. He was the husband of Genevieve Daves Greene (1924-1999), a well-known musician in the area and composer of "Eden on the River," the historical musical drama about Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett and Aaron Burr.
Dr. Greene was born on March 17, 1918, in Olean, Cattaraugus County, N.Y., to Fay Perry Greene Sr. and Edith Mary Riley. Thus began a life filled with adventure, exploration, commitment, fortitude, accomplishment and caring. He felt honored to meet the legions of people who crossed his path from every walk of life, including his many patients and a few of his own personal heroes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Warner Von Braun and Dr. Christiaan Barnard. An only child, he held a lifelong interest in his ancestry of early colonial American families and their lives, including the Greene's of Rhode Island and Fay's of Massachusetts, (for whom he and his father were named).
As a young boy in the 1920s, his family left Olean to move to Winfield, Cowley County, Kan., so his father could work in the oil fields. Dr. Greene graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield in Physics and won admission to the medical schools of Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities, choosing the latter for their generous scholarship and graduating in 1942. Along with scholarships, he put himself through both college and medical school by mowing lawns and waiting on tables. He then served in the United States Army Air Force in World War II during which he married Genevieve Faith Daves ("Judy"), the daughter of Emma Florence Snyder and John Chesley Daves of Winfield, Kan., on May 29, 1944, in Chicago, Ill. He subsequently completed his residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and his Surgical Fellowship at Cleveland Clinic, and began his private practice in East Hampton, N.Y.
In 1952, he moved with his family to Parkersburg, to establish a longtime surgical career in the area of over 50 years, and in 1957 he purchased "Little Run Farm" in Williamstown, the replica of the home of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. Performing over 30,000 surgeries throughout his medical practice, his dedication to his patients was often reflected in accepting eggs or other such commodities in lieu of payment, making house calls and leaving the dinner table just after arriving home to return to the hospital to tend to an emergency.
His days were long, and sleep was often elusive, but he always remembered his Depression-era roots, encouraging his staff to accommodate any patient's inability to pay for his services. The nurses who worked with him referred to him as "Peaches," telling his family the name was apt because he was such a peach to work with. In addition, he ran two farms, sometimes climbing the large silo by himself in the dead of winter to dig out the frozen silage for his cattle. In addition to his numerous community activities, he served as Surgeon to the B&O Railroad, Chairman of the Federal Appeal Board of the Selective Service System for West Virginia, President of the Parkersburg Medical Society, President of Blue Cross and Chief of Staff of St. Joseph's Hospital. He was a Surgical Consultant to the country of Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, where he and Genevieve had their second home.
He and Genevieve (Judy) were fascinated by the story of the Blennerhassetts and Aaron Burr, and upon his retirement from medical practice in the late 1970s, he embarked on his second career when he was named by Gov. Jay Rockefeller as Chairman of the Commission to establish West Virginia's Blennerhassett Historical State Park. Many people joined him in bringing Blennerhassett Island back to its past, reflecting an important time in early American history. Ever the renaissance man in a perpetual state of learning about almost every topic, he was a teacher, humanitarian, pilot, athlete, world traveler, builder and computer aficionado who taught himself to operate a computer at age 76. An early adopter, he was thrilled with the continuous development of new technology throughout his lifetime, from early radio to color TV to the iPad.
He is survived by his three children and their respective spouses, Sandra L. Stevenson of Ottawa, Canada, John F. Greene (Margie Greene) of Paris, Ky., and Laura G. Greene (Scott Hardtman) of Carlsbad, Calif.; eight grandchildren, William Sealey, Damon Stevenson, Darian Stevenson, Bryan Williams, Jeffrey Greene, Kari Greene, Lauren Hardtman and Dayna Hardtman; and six great-grandchildren.
Dr. Greene was a remarkable man, friend, father and grandfather, who dedicated his life to his family, patients and community. He requested that no funeral service be held, and a family memorial will be held at a later date.
The family asks that those wishing to make contributions in his name, consider the Blennerhassett Historical Foundation, the Friends of the Blennerhassetts or the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation. Dr. Greene's family has gathered his memoirs during the past 10 years, and asks that friends and family forward their own memories and stories to: LauraGreene@roadrunner.com so his future descendants may know more about their ancestor, in keeping with his own tradition.
While his many accomplishments, awards and accolades reflect a full life well lived and a man well loved, Dr. Greene described his greatest accomplishment as "marrying my wife Genevieve and raising three wonderful children." But if one is to measure a life by the number of people touched, then his life is without a doubt immeasurable.