William I. "Bill" Greener Jr., who served as Deputy Press Secretary to the President and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs in the Ford Administration, passed away Jan. 11 at the age of 87 at Inova Hospital in Loudon County, VA, of heart failure.
Greener, born Feb. 18, 1925, in Memphis, TN, had a long and distinguished career in public affairs in both the government and private sector. He was a resident of Falcon's Landing in Sterling, VA, at the time of his death.
Born to William and Sarah Greener, he spent his formative years there and briefly in Sumner, MS. Graduating at the age of 16 from high school, he interrupted his college years to join the then Army Air Corps during World War II. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After his discharge, he resumed his college education and graduated in 1947 from the University of Missouri with a degree in economics, receiving membership in Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society for the business school. During his time there, he met his future wife, Charlene McPheeters, who survives him. They celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary this past August serving as a loving and inspiring example to all who encountered them, especially their children and grandchildren, to what a marriage is supposed to be.
After Bill and Charlene were married, they moved to Wichita Falls, Texas where their first of five children was born. In addition to his wife, Mr. Greener is survived by his five children and their spouses: William I. Greener III and Leigh Ann; Barbara Greener Foelber and Richard; Charles V. Greener and Lisa; Candice Greener Tonon and Timothy; and, Thomas M. Greener and Karen.
Mr. Greener also had 15 grandchildren. They are (from Bill and Leigh Greener) Rebecca, William I. (IV), Theodore, and Jesse; (from Barbara and Rich Foelber) Missy (married to Eddie Britan), Lindsay (married to Matthew Schettler), and Kelly; (from Charles and Lisa) Kristy (married to Jeffery Nicoletti), Joseph, Charles, and Samuel; (from Candice and Tim Tonon) Charlene and Alyse; and (from Thomas and Karen) Nathan and Sarah. The great grandchildren are Malcolm Jordan Greener (William I., IV), Christian Edward and Michael Edward Schettler (Lindsay and Matthew Schettler), and Ryder Isaac Britan (Missy and Eddie Britan).
While in Wichita Falls, Greener was recalled into military service (Air Force) at the time of the Korean Conflict. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. During his 20-year career in the Air Force, he held a variety of senior posts in public affairs. He gained a master's degree in public affairs from Boston University in 1967. The next year, he was posted in Vietnam, marking the third war in which he served his country. Greener received a number of awards, including the Legion of Merit, in recognition of his service. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 and became assistant commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for Public Affairs.
During the wage and price freeze in the first term of President Nixon, Greener moved from the IRS to become head of communications for the Cost of Living Council. Following his time there, he moved to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to head public affairs in 1973 and part of 1974, winning the Distinguished Service Award while there. Briefly, he was the Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 1974 before becoming the Deputy Press Secretary to the President. In 1975, Greener became Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs under Donald Rumsfeld, serving through the completion of the Ford term and was given the Medal for Distinguished Public Service for his time there. His tenure at DOD was interrupted for a period when he was the Director of Communications for the President Ford Committee in 1976.
After leaving government, Greener spent more than a decade heading up external affairs at G.D. Searle & Company in Skokie, IL, holding the position of Senior Vice President for public affairs. He retired from Searle (by then acquired by Monsanto) in 1990 and was a consultant for several years for Monsanto and Fleishman-Hillard, headquartered in St. Louis, MO, prior to fully retiring.
In retirement, Bill and Charlene lived in Kiawah, SC, and Landfall, NC, before relocating to Falcon's Landing in Sterling, VA.
More than anything else, Mr. Greener leaves behind a family committed to reflecting the tremendous love for life, generosity, faith in a loving God, and dedication that family always comes first. His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren wish to express our gratitude for the outpouring of love, prayer and support directed our way in the past days.