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L. Bradford Greene ’53

December 30, 1935 - October 21, 2021


As written by Catherine Allison Greene ’88

Lancaster Bradford Greene (Brad) was born on December 30, 1935 in New York City to Nadine Welliver Greene and Lancaster Myron Greene. He was their only child. They lived at 21 Irving Place, right near Gramercy Park.

His father, Lancaster, when he was part of a young businessman’s organization had met a young real estate developer, named Harry Helmsley. Harry and his wife Eve were members of the Society of Friends. Lancaster, who through them became a Quaker, adored the ideas of the Society of Friends. The belief that everyone had God in them, that no one person had the right to dictate to another their beliefs, and that everyone was equal were ideas he cherished and instilled in his son. Due to this conversion, Lancaster and Nadine decided to send Brad to Friends Seminary.

Brad attended Friends with his childhood best friend, Jeffrey Nugent. Their mutual friend Douglas Fitchen attended Friends too.

Brad loved Friends and attended it from Kindergarten through the eighth grade (1949).

In junior high school, Brad dreamed of going to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. With the Great Depression having just ended, Lancaster and Nadine didn’t have the money. However, Lancaster and Nadine were able to obtain a partial scholarship to Andover. This enabled Brad to attend the boarding school. He waited tables there his freshman year to help pay for it. Brad said that his years at Andover were one of the two happiest times in his life. Even if it was scoring a touchdown for the opposing team (as football was compulsory and Brad hadn't hit his growth spurt yet) or having his roommate burn out and explode all the electricity in their dorm, he loved it there, graduating in 1953.

Bradford started Williams College in the fall of 1953. However, after falling face first into a snow drift at Smith College, missing his finals and catching pneumonia, both Williams and Brad determined that he had some maturing to do. So Brad joined the Army in 1954. From 1954 to 1956, Brad was a PFC in the Army. He was stationed in France. He said he did a lot of growing up there. Williams readmitted him in 1956. Brad graduated in 1960.

It was in his senior year, the fall of 1959, that Brad met the love of his life, Catherine Alice Johnston at Bennington College. He said that he knew he wanted to marry her after three dates. Cathy, being a freshman and 18, wanted to graduate college first. They did get engaged, after which Brad attended Wharton Business School in Philadelphia, PA for his MBA from 1960 to 1962. Brad and Cathy decided to get married on June 22, 1963 (see NY Times 4/26/63). This was pre-internet, when the NY Times announcements were really noticed. As a result, lots of people were there at the wedding, including Harry Helmsley, William Zeckendorf and loads of other prominent people of NYC. One who was not there, however, was the bride.

Brad ended up playing bridge with those who had been expected to be his future in-laws. One week later, his engagement ring was returned, in the mail, to Brad.

Brad married Anne Fitchen ’61, his classmate Douglas's younger sister, in the fall of 1964. They had one child, Eleanor Suzanne Greene, and they divorced in 1967.

Later, Brad contacted Bennington’s alumni office and obtained Cathy Johnston’s number. They reunited and married in 1968. Brad said the third time worked the charm. However, this wedding occurred with a bit less fanfare. Brad just wanted to get Cathy down the aisle. He wanted Cathy more than the wedding announcement in the NY Times. So on June 1, 1968, Brad finally got the girl of his dreams.

Sadly, his excitement and joy were short-lived. Cathy had previously had malignant melanoma as a teenager. However, she was told then, if she used sunscreen and didn't get burned, waited five years to get pregnant, she would be fine and could have children. Unfortunately she got a horrible burn down in the Caribbean during their vacation there. It doomed her. They didn’t realize the cancer had returned until she was six months pregnant.

Their daughter Catherine Allison Greene ’88 was born in September 1970, two months premature. The MDs thought they could save Cathy’s life if they started chemotherapy in September. It was not to be. Catherine died at New York Hospital on December 18, 1970, with Bradford at her side.

It was after these events that Brad became very involved with Friends. Friends Seminary offered a scholarship for his daughter to attend the school. Bradford was eternally grateful for that. The many Quakers living in the area of the Friends Meetinghouse were able to keep a watchful eye on his daughter and inform him of her shenanigans. Brad was very thankful for this as he worked very hard and had let the baby nurse go.

He, along with his daughter and father, attended Meeting for Worship regularly.

Bradford became more involved in the Pennington, the Society of Friends apartment building. This too helped occupy his time and let him help people and the organization which he admired. It also provided tremendous support after his first stroke in 1998.

After 9/11, and having to lose the colleagues and company with whom he had worked at the World Financial Center, he was devastated. The Society of Friends once again provided the support he needed. He loved doing what he could to help Friends Seminary as well as Brooklyn Friends School.

Brad worked as a financial planner. During the great recession he started a cat-sitting business on the side. He adored all animals great and small. He would run out in the rain to save the worms from getting squashed on the sidewalk. However, he especially loved kitties, his late cat Chibougamau and his current pet, Frances, gave him great joy. He could read and do his research while taking care of his feline friends, which also helped lower his blood pressure.

Brad remained very active throughout the 2010s. He played paddle tennis in Stuyvesant Town, he was involved with Friends Seminary, played bridge (his favorite game from the 1960s) and he socialized and enjoyed the art of NYC.

He suffered a massive stroke in 2019. Due to this, he had to quit many of these beloved activities. Although having gone to physical therapy and having improved a great deal, he was still physically fragile and came to suffer from a variety of illnesses that wore him out.

On October 20, 2021, while riding in a taxi, he suffered a massive heart attack. He was taken to the NYU Medical Center where he fell unconscious and died at age 85. His body was donated to science, so medical students and professionals could learn from him.


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