Remembering Jerry Greene: A wonderful friend and neighbor

— Photo from Larry Pardi

Jerry Greene, center, as his shirt shows, took a Leatherstocking Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to see the monument honoring World War II veterans of which he was one. Susanbeth Olsen made the arrangements and accompanied him on the flight in 2016. He is flanked here by his friends, Elizabeth Park and Larry Pardi, this year at the Union College Memorial Chapel for its Memorial Day celebration event.

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter in tribute to our dear friend and neighbor, Jerome N. Greene, better known as “Jerry” who passed away on Oct. 11 at the age of 94. Jerry was a resident of west Guilderland, living in the greater Altamont area for many years.

As a youth, he served our country in the military. He was a family man, business owner, volunteer at the Altamont firehouse, and a leader in charitable organizations, notably the Gift of Life Program — Rotary International. We remember and honor Jerry for his generosity, compassion, wisdom, sense of humor, and selflessness.

The legacy of our nation’s heroes exists through the memory of great names and the examples they lead; Jerry Greene was one of these heroes.

Born Oct. 1, 1925 in Manhattan, New York, Jerry grew up in the New York City area, moving to Queens with his parents in 1941. At the age of 16, he ran away from home to Florida where he joined and was inducted into the United States Army on Dec. 27, 1941.

While Jerry’s service in the Army was short-lived after being discovered that he was just 16, he was spared a court martial and given an honorable discharge on Jan. 27, 1942 after an officer argued that Jerry was willing to fight for our country at a time when many people were dodging the draft.

Jerry’s service to our country did not end there; at 17, Jerry enlisted in and was inducted into the U.S. Navy on Oct. 1, 1942 where he was stationed and trained at numerous locations on the East Coast from Florida to the Great Lakes, and rushed through trainings and tests prior to deployment for war.

During World War II, Jerry, Signalman 1st Class, served on, as an original plank holder, the USS Wyffels (Evarts Class - Destroyer Escort 6), served on USS LSM-246 (Landing Ship Medium – Amphibious Assault Ship), and served on USS SC-1018 (Submarine Chaser).

While in the Navy, Jerry’s tour of duty was primarily in the Asiatic-Pacific theater near Okinawa, Japan; he was honorably discharged from the Navy on Jan. 9, 1946.

After his military service, Jerry went on to work for General Electric and PepsiCo, before purchasing and operating for many years a Schlitz Beer distributorship.

Jerry’s dedication to community, and passion to make a difference in the world expanded far beyond his military service; throughout his life, he wore many hats.

Jerry was on the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Albany. He was also a member of the Colonie-Guilderland Rotary Club (District 7190). After serving many years, he received the high honor of becoming District Governor, where he was the official representative for the Rotary International Gift of Life Program.

Through this program, children from all over the world come to the Albany Medical Center for life-saving heart surgery. Jerry met each family at the airport and transported them to the Ronald McDonald House. He also accompanied the family to doctors’ appointments, and provided support during heart surgery.

While serving as district governor, Jerry introduced the practice whereby Rotary Club members donate food and cook dinner monthly at the Ronald McDonald House. This pioneered the way for other clubs to come in to cook at the house monthly, and this practice continues to this day.

Jerry established strong bonds of friendship with many people during his life’s journey, many of whom he referred to as family. We have lost a wonderful friend and neighbor, one whom we can never replace. We will forever remember Jerry Greene and his generosity, compassion, wisdom, wittiness, and selflessness. 

Pat Hunter

Nancy Myers

Hans Olsen

Susanbeth Olsen

Larry Pardi

Elizabeth Park


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