Robert Hebblethwaite Greene
T/SGT in 23rd Headquarters Co
Military occupational specialty: 816
Born 1920 in PA, Died 1976
County of residence at enlistment: Clark County, OH
Other residence(s): Springfield, OH; Hollywood Hills, CA; Tarzana, CA; Granville, OH
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: 1 year
Robert Greene was born on December 5, 1920 in West Springfield, PA, the second of two sons. When he was about five years old, his father abandoned the family and never made contact with his sons again. (He eventually remarried and had another child.) Robert's mother went back home to live with her widowed mother in Springfield, OH and by 1930 was working as a postal clerk in a publishing plant to support her family. Robert and his brother helped out, earning a few cents here and there doing odd jobs as young children.
Robert graduated from Springfield High School in January, 1939. He'd been a member of the class of 1938, but had taken some time off to work. He attended college for a year or two, but gave it up when the war broke out. He registered for the draft on February 16, 1942 and enlisted two weeks later, on March 4. He was assigned to the 23rd Headquarters Company and served with the unit in Europe during the war. He was discharged on September 20, 1945 with the rank of T/SGT and returned to Ohio.
He worked for a year or two in a manufacturing plant in Springfield, and then got a job that would turn into a career. In 1947, he became a bank teller at Merchants and Mechanics Federal Savings and Loan in Springfield. He met his future wife, Phyllis Weikart, that same year. She had worked at the bank summers but she was a newly minted college graduate when they met.
Robert worked his way up at Merchants and Mechanics, taking banking courses in Dayton and eventually becoming branch manager. Meanwhile he and Phyllis had three children: Michael, Diana, and Leslie.
In 1958 a friend showed him a newspaper ad about a job as VP of Beverly Hills Federal Savings & Loan; he interviewed for, and was offered, the job. The family moved to a house in the Hollywood Hills in June, 1958. He spent two years there and then took a job with Sears-Allstate Banking & Investment Division. The division was buying up federal savings & loans and wanted him to oversee that operation, so the family relocated to Deerfield, IL for two years. They returned to California in 1963 when he became president of Far West Financial Corp. in Los Angeles, and of its principal subsidiary, State Mutual Savings & Loan. The Greenes built a home in Tarzana—they bought a piece of land, hired a builder, and Phyllis drew the floor plan.
In 1971 they returned to Ohio, buying a 10-acre property with a barn in Granville when Robert became president and CEO of First Financial Group in Newark, OH. In 1973 he accepted the position of VP of Investors Mortgage Financial Services of Boston, but remained in Granville and commuted Monday-Thursday most weeks. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Granville, and an occasional golfer.
Like many GIs, Robert had taken up smoking in the Army and had become a heavy smoker. Phyllis tried to get him to quit, "so I won't be widowed at a young age." He finally quit smoking after he suffered a heart attack in February, 1976, but by then it was too late; his heart had been severely damaged. The Greenes traveled to Houston, TX for a delicate heart surgery in which an aneurysm was patched; Robert's doctor was the pioneering heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley. But he was too weak to live post-surgery without the heart/lung machine, and he died on April 8, 1976. His ashes were scattered on their property in Granville. His widow still lives there as of this writing (September, 2021).
1942 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1970 article in Newark Advocate (OH) re his banking career
1976 VA death record
1976 death certificate
1976 obituary in Newark Advocate (OH)
2021 (Sept. 8) interview by Catherine Hurst with his widow, Phyllis Greene, documented on a GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet