Victor Hugo wrote, “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
This quote exemplifies our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Byron Greany, who passed away peacefully on Sunday, June 3, 2018. Byron was born in Hudson, Iowa on July 23, 1922 (three months after the Lincoln Memorial dedication) to Mr. and Mrs. William Greany, an Irish farm family. Byron attended consolidated schools in the nearby town of Dike until 1938, when his family moved to Elliston, Montana, where his parents ran a small business and Byron finished high school. After high school, Byron attended the University of Montana briefly, but soon took a job at Boeing in Seattle. While working there, he completed his Civil Service exam, which qualified him for a job working alongside the Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Peck, Montana. When this job ended with the last load being dumped for the new dam in October of 1940, Byron intended to enlist in the Air Force to pursue flight training, but couldn’t get his mother’s blessing. Instead, he enlisted in the Navy, completing Boot Camp training at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Chicago. Following short stays at the Bainbridge, Maryland Naval Training Center, and in Virginia at Quantico, Byron was assigned to Norfolk, Virginia as a dental assistant. He saw no ship duty during his Naval service, “other than ferrying to an island dental clinic!” His commanding officer saw promise in Byron and encouraged him apply to the V12 Navy Officer Training program. Soon, Byron found himself at the University of Virginia, and although he did not obtain an official degree there, upon completion of his final required course in Bacteriology, he was accepted to the University of Minnesota Dental School. While attending dental school, Byron enlisted in the Army Reserve, needing the income to marry his Minnesota girlfriend, Rosemary Huth. Just after marrying his beloved Rose in February, 1949, and graduating from dental school in the spring, Byron was called to active duty by the Army as the Korean Conflict began to develop. He was sent to Fort Lewis for training and it was there, in April of 1950, that their first child, Mary Jo, was born.
The gratification of parenthood didn’t last long for Lt. Greany because soon after Mary Jo’s birth, he was called to what was to be a “short tour of active duty” at the army clinic in Pyongyang, N. Korea. However, as tensions and conflict began to escalate, his group of dentists, surgeons, and nurses was sent back to South Korea to stabilize soldiers’ injuries and send them on to more comprehensive treatment centers away from the conflict. When his “short tour” extension ended in June of 1952, Byron was assigned to Walter Reed Army Hospital and then to Fort Leavenworth, KS, where Patricia was born. Upon his Honorable Discharge from the Army, Byron and his small family of four moved to Anaconda, Montana, where Byron purchased a dental practice and added five additional children to the family. After practicing dentistry for 36 years, and adding six more children (Ann Marie (deceased as a newborn), Laura, Dan, Kathy, Colleen, and Tom) to the family, Byron retired in 1986 and moved to Spokane in the fall of 1988 at the request of five of his children who graduated from Gonzaga University. Unfortunately, retirement time spent with his wife, Rose, ended all too soon when she passed away in 1989. Three years later, Byron was able to find the other love of his life, Sue Rademaker-Pendleton, with whom he enjoyed the benefits of a well-earned retirement. At that time, three wonderful step-children were added to the family (Cathy, Missy, and Steve). Sue and Byron shared many golf swings together and traveled extensively across the world to Germany, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Panama, Jerusalem, Russia, and the Czech Republic. He and Sue also drove to Alaska to spend time with Sue’s brother and to relish the beautiful scenery. Time together also meant trips to Hawaii and wintering in Lake Havasu and Mexico. One of Byron’s most cherished trips was as guest on the Inland Northwest Honor Flight, whose mission it is to transport Inland Northwest war veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated in honor of their service and sacrifices. After 25 years of a blessed second marriage, Byron’s wonderful Sue passed away in September of 2017. Other notable honors and service for Byron included being a longtime member of Kiwanis, the American Legion, and induction as a Fellow into the American College of Dentistry. During his time as a dentist, Byron served in local offices for professional dentistry as well as being President of the Montana Dental Association. He also served as the Montana Dental Examiner and Western Region Dental Examiner for 5 years. Byron was a President for the Anaconda Hospital Association, and a 20-year Board Member for the Anaconda Daly Bank (later called Norwest Bank). Byron’s devotion to the Catholic Church, and his deep spirituality, was ongoing and included humanitarian work with Mission trips to Mexico to provide dental care for people in remote villages. Everyone knew Byron to be an extremely hard worker during his youth, throughout his time in dentistry, and well into “retirement.” To many it seemed like his hobby was physical labor. He was born a hard worker, growing up with labor jobs in Iowa and Montana, including work in the mines near Butte (with an especially fond memory of working alongside “Magitty,” an old Irish drunk whose job it was to dynamite the mines!), working for his parents at the small business in Elliston, and working for a summer on I-90 road construction in the Saltese, Montana area. His “leisure” jobs included working his small ranches near Deer Lodge and Fairmont, Montana, always finding work to do around his cabin at Georgetown Lake, Montana, and in retirement in Spokane, raising up to five head of cattle on his five acres in Veradale! He finally “slowed down” to just playing golf with “the boys” a few times per week or walking four to five miles per day at a clip many young people would envy. He participated and always age-group placed in Bloomsday while in his late 80s and early 90s, winning the event for his age group at the age of 90! Byron was the embodiment of a Stanislaw Jerzy Lec quote, “Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art!” Byron was that work of art! Byron is survived by his seven children: Mary Jo (James) of Freeman, WA, Patty Burke (John), Dan Greany (Sharon), and Colleen Groh (John) all of Spokane Valley, Laura Post (William) of McMinneville, OR, Kathy Weishaar (Rory) of Frenchtown, MT, Tom Greany (Kathy) of Louisville, CO, and his three step-children: Cathy Deiter (Mike), Missy Teichmer (Lee), and Steve Pendleton (Julie), all of Spokane Valley. Byron is further survived by 37 grandchildren and six 6 great-grandchildren.
A memorial mass and celebration of Byron’s life well lived will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Saturday, June 16th, at 10am, located at 304 S. Adams Rd, Spokane Valley, WA.