Amid loving memories and hundreds of photographs, Elizabeth Greene spent yesterday preparing to eulogize her husband, volunteer firefighter Michael Greene, who died in the line of duty.
“We’re all just absolutely devastated,” said Elizabeth, 42, who’d been married to Greene for 15 years. “I have four children now without a father.”
She has a speech prepared for his funeral tomorrow.
It tells how the couple met 24 years ago at a Maria Regina Parish beach picnic, when she noticed “this great looking curly blond-haired boy with a surfboard.” It goes on about their marriage in 1990, their kids, and his volunteer work, how “he was a fireman in every sense of the word.
“He was a great surfer, fireman, friend, dad and husband. Mike Greene was just simply … a great guy.”
Greene, 43, a West Babylon volunteer firefighter who drove a truck for Nabisco for a living, was killed Friday when an electrified sign atop a Lindenhurst restaurant fatally shocked him. He leaves a son, Colin, 14, the spitting image of his father, and three daughters, Katie, 12, Kristen, 10, and Meghan, 4.
The chief of the department said it was the first on-the-job fatality in its 61-year history. Greene, a firefighter for a dozen years, was set to receive a silver medal of valor from the county for an attempted rescue of a woman from a fire in December in West Babylon.
From the couple’s Babylon Village home, Colin reminisced about the surfing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina his father took him on last April. From dawn till noon every day for a week, Greene and his oldest child discussed the ways of the ocean, went over techniques and surfed together.
“He was happy to teach me,” Colin Greene said yesterday.
Elizabeth Greene said her husband was reluctant to become a firefighter at first. “He knew he had children … but he felt it was important to do. And he was good at it,” she said.
A funeral is scheduled tomorrow at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, North Carll Avenue, with interment at the church, a few yards away from the family’s home. Viewing is scheduled for tonight at Chapey Funeral Home in East Islip from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with a service expected to draw firefighters from across the region.
Tomorrow, Elizabeth Greene plans to close her tribute to her husband with the following words: “Mike was truly a special person and I will miss him every day of my life.”