Barbara Steffen GREENE

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Barbara Steffen Greene passed away at home on Monday, April 21, 2014. She was surrounded by family, friends, and very, very special caregivers. A proud, second-generation San Franciscan, Barbara was born at home in the Sunset District and into a loving family. She was the daughter of a strong mother, Ethel Pierce Steffen, and a tender-hearted father, Gerhardt Anthony Steffen, who, under his professional name, Willie Ritchie, was lightweight boxing champion of the world from 1912 to 1914. In her youth, Barbara fought raucously with her beloved brother, Geary, snuck food under the table to Pal, the family German Shepherd she adored, and spent summers rafting on the Russian River. She was particularly proud to have ridden Seabiscuit, champion racehorse of family friend Charles Howard. In her twenties, Barbara attended college in Southern California and worked as a secretary for several Hollywood directors. Barbara would want to be recalled here as "a lady" - and that she was - but she was also a character who, even in her later years, remained full of beans. She was magnetic, curious, funny, opinionated, spirited, thoughtful, and lovingly ornery. Always impeccably dressed, Barbara never appeared in public without beautifully coiffed hair (thank you, Sandi), elegant nail polish (thank you, Judy), and just the right shade of lipstick. It was a source of confusion and a genuine mystery to her why anyone would make an appearance without first addressing these issues. Barbara loved to entertain family and friends and did so with flair, excitement, and a lot of love in her heart. She adored good food and was a magnificent cook well into her later years. She had a life-long love affair with Dungeness crab, Best Food mayonnaise, and, it must be said, Wonder Bread. Best not to discuss the year Wonder Bread was taken off the market. Moving here from the Peninsula, Barbara cherished her Santa Rosa home of 34 years. She enjoyed bridge, dancing, golf, a comfortable stool alongside a good slot machine, her delphiniums, sitting down to read the newspaper every single day, triple Doppler radar weather reports, her evening cocktail, and always, always the color green. She also never met a box she didn't love. Probably most of all, though, Barbara loved to help her cherished friends and family (well, truthfully, anyone) and generously forgave, and was only slightly put out by, those silly enough not to take her advice. Paul, the love of Barbara's life, passed away before her, and in those last years alone, Barbara was proud to learn a lot about her own strength. While Paul was alive, he and Barbara traveled the world together. The two are almost always recalled holding hands. In 50 years of marriage, they remained so clearly devoted to each other that when they dined out, it was not uncommon for the owner of the establishment or another patron to send over free drinks, simply moved to see an elderly couple still so in love. Barbara is survived by her daughter, Cynthia Greene, sons, Michael Covington and Darrell Greene (Terry). She was also the extremely proud grandparent of Andy Greene (Seema Sohi), Ned Greene (Emily Duchek), Lacey Greene, McKenzie Covington (Joy) and Chris Covington. Barbara was likewise blessed and amazed to find herself with six great-grandchildren: Teja, Eva, Everett, Simran, Kyto, and Meecah. The family would like to acknowledge Barbara's beloved friend and companion of 34 years, Donna Elliott, as well as her sweet husband, Bill. There are not and never will be words enough to describe their devotion and love, let alone to adequately thank them. Particularly cherished friends include Helene and King Simon, Mary May Busse, Drew Cameron, Dale Richardson, and those who passed earlier, Jane Mastick and Jane Bacon. Barbara was preceded in death by the man who absolutely adored her, her husband Paul, as well as her son Teddy, brother Geary, and sister Margaret. At the end of her life, Barbara was lucky enough to be cared for with diligence, patience, humor, and love by Edna and Millie Kirby and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospice. It would not be possible to either describe or thank them enough for their loving care. The family would also like to express their deep appreciation to her physician, Robert Schaeffer, for his compassionate care and give special thanks to Christina Groverman, Hospice nurse and firefighter extraordinaire. Barbara will be remembered for many things, not least of which her timeless elegance and style, her generosity, the gorgeous white hair she had since her forties, her moving blue eyes and vulnerable smile, her kindness, and last but not least, her brave forbearance in the face of the Greene side of the family's sense of humor. She will be deeply missed and remembered always. At Barbara's request, there will be no services. Donations in Barbara's honor may be made to the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospice. In lieu of donations and in memory of Barbara, the family would be honored by anyone cooking a lovingly prepared meal for someone special and raising a glass in her name.
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Apr. 29 to Apr. 30, 2014
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