Joseph (Joe) Francis Greer, Jr (82) of Conway, AR, left us on Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022. He was born on March 23, 1940 in Elizabeth, NJ to the late Joseph F. and Nana (Murphy) Greer. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from St. Bonaventure University in New York and a PhD from St. Louis University in Missouri, before embarking on a thirty-five year career as a professor of sociology at his alma mater. In 1963, he married his college sweetheart, Jan Donnelly. They resided in Biddeford, ME and St. Louis, MO before setting down roots on the Ten Mile Road in Allegany, NY. It was here that they raised their three daughters: Catherine Tracy Zinno, of Conway, AR, Joanne Miller of Marblehead, MA and Kerry Greer of Vancouver, BC.
Joe was an avid outdoorsman, spending countless hours in the deep woods of the Ten Mile, where he identified as a steward of the land. His pride and joy was the brook fed trout pond that lent to the symphony of sights and sounds providing the backdrop to his well-lived life. He owned the Great North American Timber and Resource Development Company, which was marketed with a bullseye over a beaver. In this endeavor, he sought to promote sustainable forestry and woodland conservation. He was most happy sitting in an Adirondack chair on his dock, reading voraciously while the pond and forest splashed, buzzed and sang, and the brook bubbled beside him.
Joe had two green thumbs, which he bequeathed to two of his daughters. Despite the short summer season in Western New York, Joe delighted in growing flowers and vegetables from seed in his greenhouse, which he planted into abundant flower beds throughout his gardens. He was an avid bird watcher and would listen to CBC Radio, while devouring the New York Times each morning, drinking sugary, heavily creamed coffees, smoking too many cigarettes, and enjoying the many birds that visited the many feeders that surrounded his breakfast room nook each morning.
Joe enjoyed travel and he and Jan took their family on many grand adventures. They drove across the country to California, visiting every National Park along the way and back. They spent numerous summers at the Thousand Islands. They also moved the family to La Paz, Bolivia for six months in 1979. While there, the family explored Bolivia and journeyed to Arica, Chile for a beach holiday. Joe never picked up the language while there and the family had many laughs remembering his slaughter of conversation with his French-Splanglish. He encouraged his children to think globally and to understand the privileges we held being born as Americans.
His chosen profession was hinted at in his high school yearbook from Oratory Prep, where he determined that his career choice was to be a professor of sociology. In this role, Joe loved his students and led them in the Socratic method, which he employed in most of his conversations throughout his life. He engaged on any topic and challenged each discussion to elevate mutual understandings. Each year, at graduation, he hosted his students for a celebration, where his family appreciated the opportunity to have a glimpse of what he created in the classroom
When he died, Joe was celebrating almost forty years of sobriety, for which he attributed much of his success to Alcoholics Anonymous. AA supported his journey and invited many deep friendships and a new trajectory of his passion and interest in addiction and mental health. He became a Counselor at the Cattaraugus County Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, where he devoted himself to connecting clients to recovery, one of his most dearly held vocations.
Joe was deeply engaged in political activism and led Jesse Jackson’s primary campaign in Western New York in 1984. He continued his involvement in politics and ran for Cattaraugus County Legislature in 1999. For 12 years, Joe was married to Susan Handy Greer. Throughout their marriage, they traveled and spent their time in New York City and Allegany. Following their separation, they remained good friends.
The final chapter of his eight decades of life was lived in Conway, AR, where his daughter, Catherine, created a home for him across from her home, which was bustling with college-aged grandchildren. Catherine encouraged his grandchildren to go out to lunch each week with their grandfather, and he delighted in challenging them in much the same spirit that he had with his daughters and former students. As his health waned, Catherine cared for his every need. She bravely met each day with each new challenge that arrived from his failing health. She tempered his frustrations and cared for him gently and patiently. Her mother taught her how to care for others and she employed these skills to her father selflessly and generously.
Joe is survived by his three daughters, Catherine Zinno of Conway, Joanne Miller of Marblehead and Kerry Greer of Vancouver, BC., Canada. Left with memories of their grandfather, are his twelve grandchildren, David (Amber), Kyle (Hannah), Samantha (Paul), Olivia (Mohammed), Wyatt (Megan) and William Zinno, John (Anna) Janota, Maisie, Maddie and Jeffrey Miller, Henry and Elliott Mefferd. Joe also leaves three great-grandchildren, Layla, Genevieve and Samuel Zinno. Uncle Joe also leaves behind many beloved nieces and nephews and sister-in-law Joan Moore. Awaiting their reunions with Joe are the aforementioned Jan Donnelly Greer, son-in-law Jeff Miller, sister Tracy Stoelzle, brothers-in-law Helmut Stoelzle, Dave Truelock Ron Moore, sister-in-law Trudy Truelock and nephew Kenny Truelock.
A private family celebration of his life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please spend a few minutes thinking of Joe, then strive to stay curious and embrace critical thinking.
Arrangements for Joseph Greer are under the care and direction of Vilonia Funeral Home, 1134 Main Street, Vilonia, AR 72173. Sign his Book of Memories at www.viloniafuneralhome.com.
Please Note: Vilonia Funeral Home is not affiliated with, nor do we endorse any online flower company. Because of past delivery issues, we do not advise ordering flowers online. You should contact one of our local florists directly. If you need help with this, please give us a call.