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Mother brought, held family together

The Oregonian, USA
Sep. 11, 2003
Amy Martinez Starke • Thursday September 11, 2003

Anne Greek had her sixth son shortly before her husband left her, and the caseworker suggested splitting up the couple’s children — three with her, three with him. But she raised them together as a single mother and made do by eating government-surplus powdered eggs, baby-sitting and cleaning house, or working in a bowling alley to get her sons lane time.

When she sold encyclopedias, she didn’t take “no” for an answer. “Yes” meant yes, “maybe” meant yes, and “no” meant yes.

For the next 11 years, she worked to keep her boys safe, serving as Fernwood PTA president, Cub Scout leader and Little League scorekeeper. She also signed them up for Big Brothers.

When the children were pretty much raised, she got a job with the state and married Adrian Greek, the widower across the street, a longtime YMCA director who had two sons and two daughters. She then found her greatest hour blending the huge brood, ages 7 to 20. “People said we were crazy and would never make it work,” she said, “but we did it.”

Anne Greek, who died Sept. 6, 2003, at 73, of cancer, was a runner-up for Oregon Mother of the Year in 1982.

In the 1970s a stepson and a stepdaughter joined the Unification Church, controversial because of its mass weddings, recruiting techniques and claims by its founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The children were cut off from the family. Adrian and Anne became active in cult awareness and were co-directors of the Positive Action Center for 18 years. They tried to get families back together and co-wrote a book, “Mind Abuse by Cults and Others.”

Their son was reunited with his parents after more than a year, but it took many more years for their daughter to reconnect. She eventually moved close by, and they made up for lost years.

Anne was the surprise last baby of a Nebraska family that came to Yakima during World War II. While attending Yakima High School, she ran a switchboard, was an usher in a theater and clerked in variety stores. Then she graduated and married her first husband.

When, years later, she married Adrian, they said vows to each other and to each other’s children, and moved to a third house in Northeast Portland. The first Christmas, the family discovered their traditions were exactly opposite, so they started a third set of traditions. Their goals as parents were “agree to disagree, but communicate.”

Unfortunately her dachshund, Zero, and his shepherd-collie mix, Dusty, were mortal enemies. Even they, however, finally became pals.

After Anne and Adrian retired 10 years ago, she became a CASA volunteer, working with courts to place children in safe homes.

The couple visited all 50 states, and Europe once. Anne liked Mexico for margaritas, massages and steam baths. She had followed “As the World Turns” from the time it started, and she planned parties with activities such as treasure hunts, which brought people together.

After six sons, she enjoyed girls. She got two stepdaughters, plenty of granddaughters, and four days before she died, she found out she had her first great-grandchild, a girl.

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