Polly Hoben Greenberg

1932 - 2013

Polly Hoben Greenberg passed away peacefully on Friday afternoon, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Born in Milwaukee in 1932 to Lindsay Hoben, the Editor-in-Chief of the Milwaukee Journal, and Margaret Pollitzer Hoben, a progressive educator from New York, Polly lived in Washington DC starting in 1956.

She is survived by her daughters Rabbi Julie Greenberg of Philadelphia, PA, Dr. Miggie Greenberg of St. Louis, MO, Katie Greenberg, Ph.D. of Asheville, NC; Liza Greenberg, RN, MPH of Bethesda, MD, and Gwen Bradley, Ph.D. of Washington, DC. Polly is also survived by her brother, Allan Hoben, Ph.D. and his wife Susan Hoben, Ph.D. of Berkeley, California and 18 grandchildren: Rosi, Raffi, Zoe, Joey, Mozelle, Emma, Hoben, Sims, Margaret, Max, Albert, Daniel, Florence, Elizabeth, Cassidy, Lindsay, Owen and Greta.

Polly furthered her mother's passion for social justice and progressive education through significant contributions the War on Poverty and to early childhood education advocacy, policy and programs.

Polly served under three different administrations: in the Department of Education (then called the US Office of Education) during the Kennedy Administration; the Office of Economic Opportunity during the Johnson Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services (then called Health, Education, and Welfare) during the Carter Administration.

Polly was closely involved in the War on Poverty during the Johnson Administration. From June 1965 to June 1967, she was one of three founders and the education director of an innovative state-wide Head Start in Mississippi. There she worked closely with the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM) to implement Head Start among an impoverished African American community. The experience was later recounted in her book The Devil Has Slippery Shoes (Youth Policy Institute, 1990).

As a writer and editor, Polly had an eclectic career in the area of child and parent development. From 1986-2001, Polly was the editor of Young Children, the professional journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Polly was also the author of more than seven books, including a children's picture book (Oh, Lord, I Wish I was a Buzzard, MacMillan 1969), a book on parenting (How to Convert the Kids from What They Eat to What They Oughta, Ballantine, 1976) and three booklets for Scholastic. For almost 30 years she had regular columns in two Scholastic magazines, Parent and Child, and Early Childhood Today.

Polly was the keeper-and constant teller-of her family's stories and traditions. She was devoted to this role, taking the time to understand the uniqueness of each of her grandchildren, sensitively navigating a wide range of personalities and interests.

Polly's life long commitment to nature was reflected in her farm in Bedford Pennsylvania, where she also spent 7 years as a public school teacher. Her farmland there will be kept undeveloped in partnership with the Nature Conservancy.

A memorial service is being planned for the spring in DC. Donations may be made in her honor to The Nature Conservancy (http://www.nature.org) or to Palisades Village (http://www.palisadesvillage.org).

Published on NYTimes.com from Dec. 30 to Dec. 31, 2013