A doctor takes a long view of his farm and his life’s journey

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

“I’m married to the best possible person in the world that I could have married,” said Lyon Greenberg on Saturday as he stood with his wife, Marcia, in their Krumkill Road home.


NEW SCOTLAND — Dr. Lyon Greenberg, at 90, believes he has lived his life in the right place at the right time.

On Saturday, he and his wife, Marcia, sat on their flagstone patio overlooking the fields and pond on their 60-acre property.

Next door, is a 200-acre farm where their son, Adam, a New Scotland councilman, grows hay.

While their oldest son, Josh, is a Boston lawyer, another son, Ben, lives just a short bit away on Bullock Road. The Greenbergs described Ben as a “wonderful gardener.”

Once they had three sons, Lyon recalled, Marcia — “a very persistent individual” — said, “You need a girl.”

Elizabeth was born; she is now the curator of an art gallery on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

Lyon described his children, growing up, as “unpaid labor” on the farm.

When the Greenbergs moved to their farm six decades ago, Krumkill Road was not the busy, paved thoroughfare it is today.

They couldn’t find water near the road to build their house and are glad for that now as, after wending along a drive lined with now-tall evergreens, a visitor feels their house is a world away.

Inspired by Frank Loyd Wright, their low-slung home, built of natural stone and wood, hugs the land.

It is far from Lyon’s boyhood in Baltimore, Maryland.

His father was a general practitioner there and his mother’s family, he said, is “one of the oldest original Jewish families in Montreal.” Lyon’s brother is an architect.

But Lyon knew, since he was a boy, that he wanted to be a doctor. When he was 16 or 17, he would drive his father to his patients’ homes for house calls.

His was a big family with countless cousins. His mother and his father each had 10 siblings.

His family growing up belonged to an Orthodox congregation “but basically … my mother and father were Conservative and very much in tune with each other,” Lyon said.

Lyon went to Baltimore City College, one of the nation’s oldest public high schools, founded in 1839. It was an all-male school at the time.

“I did particularly well in science,” he said.

After high school, “I went where my mother picked the college,” he said.

Lyon had never been to Hanover, New Hampshire or seen Dartmouth College until the day he arrived on campus as a freshman.

After World War II, he said, most of the Ivy League schools were increasing the number of Jewish students they admitted. “They wanted to improve academics,” he said.

Lyon is very proud of having graduated from Dartmouth in 1954 after which he went to medical school at Johns Hopkins.

He had always wanted to be a pediatrician, Lyon said, but was required to do rotations in different fields of medicine and discovered he liked being an ear-nose-throat doctor. As an ENT, or otolaryngologist, he said, he could still work with children but also got to do surgery.

He applied to McGill, his mother’s and father’s college, for his residency.

As a doctor, he enlisted in the Air Force, choosing that branch of the military because the Air Force has large hospitals at its bases.

“I loved every minute of it,” Lyon said of being a flight surgeon.

As such, he was expected to have 100 hours of flying time and enjoyed that too. He earned two commendations while serving in the Air Force.

While in the Air Force, he was set up on a blind date with a Mount Holyoke student — Marcia MacDonald.

“I’m married to the best possible person in the world that I could have married,” he said on Saturday.

After their wedding, Lyon said, “We were supposed to go to Burlington.” But the chief of staff at the hospital there called him and said, while the position was still his if he wanted it, some doctors “don’t want you here.”

Rather than deal with the anti-semitism, Lyon consulted with Marcia and they settled on Albany — he started as an associate professor of surgery and, within four years, he was a full professor, he said. Lyon was also part of a longstanding ENT practice in Guilderland.

But country life called to him, perhaps inspired by “Uncle Bernard,” a family friend who was a gentleman farmer and close to Lyon. Uncle Bernard’s 1947 tractor is still in the Greenbergs’ barn, he said.

Lyon Greenberg says he loves running a tractor and the “physical part” of farming.

More New Scotland News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.