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Harold “Dean” Greiner passed away on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Polson. He was born in Eugene, Oregon, on Aug. 24, 1921, the middle of three children born to Carl and Althea (Richardson) Greiner. The family moved from Eugene to Polson when Dean was just 9-months-old. He made Polson his home for the remainder of his life.
He graduated from Polson High School in 1939 having been active in many school activities, including president of his sophomore class, captain of the football team, and president of the student body in his senior year. During high school he worked at a local pharmacy. The pharmacist told Dean he would sell him the pharmacy if he earned a degree in that field, so after high school Dean started pharmacy school at Pullman, Washington. His college plans were set aside when he was called to serve in World War II.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corp in October of 1942. On his way to flight school in California, Dean met and befriended another pilot candidate, Hank Hendrickson, who would later become his brother-in-law.
He graduated flight school and spent the next 3 1/2 years in England and Europe flying B-17’s for the 8th Airforce, 379th Bomber Group. He flew a total of 35 missions over Germany. During one of these missions his plane was shot down over Belgium. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944 for regaining control of his airplane after it was hit over enemy territory. He was very proud of his country and felt honored to be able to serve. Over the years, he kept in contact with his former flight crew and attended Air Force reunions all over the country. In 2013, he was invited to participate in one of the last Montana Honor Flights to Washington DC, a program dedicated to honor veterans with a visit to our nation’s capital. He was moved to tears when he was surprised by three daughters and a grandson at the end of a line of greeters in the DC airport.
After the war, Dean returned to Polson and married Mariella Cleveland. They raised four children, Sandra, Gary, Debra and Pamela. They lost their oldest child, Sandra, to Lupus in 1964. In 1969 their son, Gary, was killed in Vietnam.
Dean worked for the BIA Flathead Project for 34 years before retiring in 1975. He served as Mayor of Polson from 1978 to 1982. During his lifetime Dean gave tirelessly to the Polson community. His lengthy list of credits include: Chapter President of NARFE, local coordinator of the Health Advocacy Service and Tax Credit for the Elderly, board of directors for the Polson Library, Western Montana Boy Scouts, Tribal Air Quality Program, Bluebird Recovery Project, and Flathead River Environmental Impact Study. He regularly served as a judge for speech meets at Polson High School, taught Hunters Safety courses, and coached Little League baseball. He served as Commander of the VFW Honor Guard for military funerals and was a volunteer fireman for 20 years. He loved to play Bridge, teaching the game to both high school students and senior citizens. He was an avid fisherman and often contributed his catch to the Polson Senior Center fish fry dinners. He was a member and contributor to the Polson Senior Center for over 30 years. He was selected as Senior of the Year for Lake County in 1992 for his many contributions.
His wife, Mariella, passed away in 1992. He met his second partner, Marilyn Schutt, a year later. They were together 19 years, traveling the world and creating many treasured memories, until her passing in 2011.
Dean is currently survived by two children from his first wife, Debra (Craig) Bronner of Kalispell, and Pamela (Pat) Farrow of Glendale, Arizona. He is also survived by Marilyn’s two daughters, Susan Harris of Maryland and Sally Huntsman of Arizona. He has three grandchildren, Sarah Herrin, Matthew Palmer, and Jason Copeland along with five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Jean Oberem and brother, Richard Greiner.
A ceremony with full military honors will be held at Lakeview Cemetery in Polson on Jan. 7, at noon followed by a celebration of life reception at the Polson Senior Center.
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