William I. Greener Jr., public affairs officer

January 22, 2013

William I. Greener Jr., 87, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served as deputy press secretary at the White House and as chief Pentagon spokesman during the Ford administration, died Jan. 11 of congestive heart failure at Inova Loudoun Hospital.

A grandson, Ted Greener, confirmed his death.

After serving with the Army Air Forces during World War II, Col. Greener was recalled to active duty in the Air Force in 1951 in the midst of the Korean War.

He served as a public affairs officer in Vietnam in 1968 and later was posted at the Pentagon. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 as a lieutenant colonel and as deputy chief of the public affairs division.

Before joining President Gerald R. Ford’s White House press office in April 1975, Col. Greener was a public affairs officer for the Internal Revenue Service, the Cost of Living Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He returned to the Pentagon as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in December 1975, but left in July 1976 to serve as chief of communications for Ford’s presidential campaign. Ford lost the election to Jimmy Carter.

William Isaac Greener was born in Memphis. During World War II, he participated in combat missions over Europe and received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and received a master’s degree in public affairs from Boston University in 1967.

Col. Greener was a former Springfield resident who later moved to Skokie, Ill., where he became senior vice president for public affairs at the pharmaceutical firm G.D. Searle & Co., which was later acquired by Monsanto.

He retired in 1990 but continued to do consulting for Monsanto and other companies until relocating to Kiawah Island, S.C., in 1996. Nine years ago, he moved to Falcons Landing in Sterling.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Charlene McPheeters Greener of Sterling; five children, William I. Greener III of Marshall, Va., Barbara Foelber of Alexandria, Charles Greener of Lake Bluff, Ill., Candice Tonon of Lindenhurst, Ill., Thomas Greener of Rocky Mount, N.C.; 15 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes

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