Beatrice Nissen Greene, a long-time Westfield NJ resident, died August 21 after a prolonged illness at her Fellowship Village residence in Basking Ridge. Her passing came just one month shy of her 85th birthday, and just three months after the death of David F. Greene, her beloved husband of 62 years."Bea" was born Beate Maria Nissen on September 20, 1930 in Frankfurt Germany, to Margarethe (Gretel) Kathariner and Ferdinand Nissen. The family left Nazi Germany in 1932, transiting through Switzerland and Turkey before emigrating to the U.S. in July, 1938.
Bea lived in Boston and, Philadelphia before her family settled in New Rochelle NY. While commuting to Barnard College from New Rochelle, Bea struck up a relationship with Dave Greene, a student at nearby Columbia University. After graduating cum laude from Barnard in 1952 she and Dave, were married on Valentine's Day 1953. The newlyweds eventually moved to Plainfield and in 1958 to Westfield , where they raised four sons, and became the proud grandparents of five granddaughters and two grandsons.
Surrounded by menfolk, Bea was a singularly strong woman, heading her family with discipline, energy and grace. Her dinner table was a place for spirited political discussions and bon vivant camaraderie. She cut an elegant figure, known for her flair with scarves and jewelry.
As an immigrant herself, Bea took a keen interest in explaining America to foreigners. So, it was natural for her to acquire certification to teach English as a foreign language, and provide instruction through her work with inlingua, the foreign language school, in the process making dozens of new friends now scattered around the world. She also took great interest in the endeavors of her children, grandchildren, and their friends. Endowed with a remarkable memory, Bea was a prodigious correspondent, reaching out regularly â first by letter, and then by email â to her wide circle of devoted friends.
After a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in August, 2014, Bea applied her characteristic discipline and positive outlook to fighting her illness, largely to remain a comfort and support to Dave, until his death this past May. With his passing and her own declining health, Bea discontinued treatment and entered hospice in early July, "fading away" in her sleep, as was her wish. Her selfless behavior in battling cancer set a noble example for all.
The family plans a private memorial service. For those wishing to honor her, they ask that contributions may be made to two causes Bea was passionate about: Barnard College at Box AS, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, or to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, P.O. Box 5193, New York, NY 10087.
Arrangements by Gray Funeral Directors of Westfield. Please go to grayfuneralhomes.com to offer condolences.