Leonard Austin Greene
Leonard Austin Greene of Delafield, a soldier and educator, passed away at his home Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, after a long and courageous battle with lymphoma and other ailments. He was 78.
He was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., in St. Catherine of Genoa parish, playing stickball in its streets and living a childhood that belongs now to another place and time entirely. (Perhaps you would have to be a New Yorker to fully understand.) Throughout his life, he vividly recalled his excitement in watching ball games at the old Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field, and making trips to the Bronx with his taxi cab-driver uncle, Benny, to see the Yankees play.
His family moved to Sayville, N.Y., when he was a sophomore in high school and it was there that his being left-handed became an asset. He pitched for the schoolís baseball team and, despite being tall and lanky, even began to play football. He continued to pitch at Niagara University where he received an excellent Vincentian education and where he earned his A.B. degree in English literature.
After his graduation from college in 1952, while the United States was still fighting in Korea, Len was drafted into the U.S. Army. He enjoyed the military, decided to make it his career and earned his commission through Officer Candidate School.
Also, at this time, he met and married Marilyn Butler of West Sayville, and they made their life together and raised their family. The family has always been close, perhaps because of their frequent moves from one military assignment to another, but more likely because of the example Len and Marilyn set for the children and the love they provided in such generous portions.
Len rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and his accomplished career included receiving his regimentís Outstanding Soldier Award as an enlisted man, command of a company in Cold War West Germany, two separate year-long combat tours in Vietnam, and supervision of the ROTC program at Indiana University. His medals and decorations include the Bronze Star (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal (First Class), the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
After his retirement from the military, Len served for three years as commandant of cadets at Culver Military Academy (Culver, Ind.). He then took the commandantís position at St. Johnís Military Academy and served there in a wide variety of roles for more than 20 years. He retired from St. Johnís as chief of staff but continued to volunteer his time to the school until 2005. He was very proud of the many young people he met at St. Johnís and for whom many said he served as an ideal role model. He was firm and fair, understanding of young peopleís problems, and he displayed a passion for education, always emphasizing the importance of character development. He also served, until his death, as the finance officer for the Delafield American Legion Post 196.
Survivors include his wife, Marilyn; children, Lenore of Waukesha, Deborah (Michael) Spicer of Hartwell, Ga., Terrence of Bloomington, Ind., and Kevin of Delafield; his brother, Thomas (Meryl) of Sayville; and many nieces and nephews and other relatives.
Visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Dec. 19, at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, 237 N. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha. Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 120 Nashotah Rd., Nashotah, with Rev. Mike Strachota presiding. Interment with military honors will immediately follow at Glenview Memorial Gardens, Ixonia, with the Rev. Michael Gray-Fow presiding.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Leonardís name are appreciated to St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 120 Nashotah Rd., Nashotah, WI 53058
Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Preplanning Services is serving the family. For further information, call 542-6609, or for directions, an online obituary or to leave a condolence, please visit www.waukeshasfuneralhome.com.