#52Ancestors: Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D.

Lt. Colonel, William Wallace Greene.
Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D. U.S. Army, World War II.

My 5th week in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

This week’s ancestor is my husband’s grandfather, William Wallace “Wallace” Greene (1908-2003), who my husband’s family believes shares a common ancestor with Revolutionary War Hero Major General Nathanael Greene (although I have not proven or disproven that yet through evidence). In preparing for my visit to the Family History Library this week during RootsTech, I have been going through family files passed down by my father-in-law, and came across this biography written by my father-in-law before Wallace died in 2003.

So, I am cheating a bit here since I do not have to write a history myself. I hope my husband, his brother, and his cousins know how lucky they are to have this type of history compiled while their grandfather was still alive. I wish I had this gift for any of my grandparents.

William Wallace Greene Jr.

Dr. William Wallace Greene was born on August 26, 1908, in Phoenix, Arizona, son of William Wallace Greene (1869-1944) and Veronica (Dorris) Greene (1883-1982). He attended McKinley Grammar School through 3rd grade, and Monroe Grammar School through 8th grade. He took a college prep program at Phoenix Union High School, during which time he worked as a stockboy at S.H. Kress. In his junior and senior year summers he worked for Valley Bank in Phoenix, first as a bank runner, then as a book-keeper running a posting machine. He said he almost went into banking because he enjoyed this job.

Willieam Wallace Greene 1929 Stanford
The Stanford Quad yearbook, Stanford University, 1929. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

In 1925, at the age of 16, he went to the University of Redlands as a pre-medical student. At Redlands he was on the track team (ran the half-mile against UCLA), and was on the Freshman and Varsity Debating team. He won entrance into Phi Kappa Delta, the national debating fraternity. He also was admitted to Theta Alpha Phi, the national drama fraternity, for his efforts doing scenery and so on. He joined Alpha Gamma Nu, a local social fraternity and the Pre-medical fraternity while at Redlands as well. To support himself he waited tables at the men’s dining room in the dormitory. He attended Redlands through 1927.

William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless Honeymoon
Honeymooning in Arizona, after their quick weekend wedding.

In Fall 1927, he matriculated at Stanford University as a premedical student. For the first six months he lived at Encina Hall, and then pledged Phi Sigma Kappa. He also belonged to Phi Rho Sigma (medical fraternity) and played the baritone horn in the Stanford Marching Band. He entered medical school (at Stanford)in 1928 and received his A.B. in Pre-Clinical Sciences in 1929. His internship was spent 1932-33 at Lane-Stanford Hospital in San Francisco where he also met Jean Alice Harless (1912-2011) who was in nursing school. She became his wife on May 18, 1933, the same year he was awarded the M.D. degree. They went to Baltimore during 1933-34, where he was an intern in surgery at Johns Hopkins. 1934-35, he was back at Lane-Stanford as assistant resident in surgery. 1935-36, he was senior house officer in surgery at San Francisco Hospital (Stanford Service), and 1936-37, he served as resident in surgery at the same hospital.

Stanford Lane Hospital
Stanford-Lane Hospital in San Francisco. Courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center.

Wallace (he preferred to go by this name) began his private medical practice in San Francisco in 1937, with a specialization in abdominal surgery. The same year he joined the part-time faculty of Stanford Service as Instructor of Surgery, a position he held until 1941. Then life changed. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he knew that his country would be needing medical personnel. On April 6, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was given a commission as Major, assigned as a surgeon in the Medical Corps with the 59th Evacuation Hospital. Most of his time in the Army was spent in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Germany. He was discharged with the cessation of action in the european part of World War II, in September 1945. He had attained the ran of Lt. Colonel. He returned to San Francisco and resumed his medical career in private practice. Prior to leaving for the service Wallace and Jean had two children [names, dates, location omitted for privacy reasons].

59th Evacuation Hospital
59th Evacuation Hospital. Courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center.

Wallace’s son recently told me that his father said many of the doctors in the 59th Evac came from Stanford. They all  joined up together.

With his return to private practice, he also resumed teaching part-time with the Stanford Service as Assistant Clinical Professor or Surgery from 1946-49. From 1949-61, he was Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery, again at Stanford Service. When Stanford moved its medical school to Palo Alto, he became Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery for the medical school at University of California at San Francisco, where he served through 1971.

William Wallace Greene and Jean Alice Harless
Wallace and his wife Jean, in practice together.

Wallace and Jean moved from San Francisco to Tiburon (Marin County, California) in 1961, but Wally kept his practice in San Francisco. In 1971, they moved to Kauai (Hawaii) where he took the position as Medical Director and Surgeon at G.N. Wilcox Hospital in Lihue. He went into semi-retirement in 1976, and finally retired in December 1981, whereupon he and Jean returned to California and bought a home in Oakmont near Santa Rosa.

William Wallace Greene and Jeff Greene
Wallace with two of his grandsons, my husband (middle) and brother-in-law. I just love this photo! The boys are obviously pestering their grandfather while he tries to read the paper.
William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless
Wallace and his bride Jean, late in life.

[contentblock id=54 img=html.png]

Leave a Comment, Question, or Suggestion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 thoughts on “#52Ancestors: Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D.”

Scroll to Top