Roger Elting Greeley, a true character, came close to his desire to live to 100, dying October 28, 2021 in Marquette, Michigan, at age 98. He was born September 16, 1923 at home in Madison, Wisconsin, to Floretta Elmore Greeley and Dr. Hugh Payne Greeley. He was the youngest of 5 children. A class clown and natural leader, Rog was a disinterested student. Despite having a photographic memory, he barely graduated from high school, before beginning an acting internship at Ivoryton Theatre in Connecticut. Returning to Madison, he became a welder in a busy defense factory, but soon enlisted in the U.S. Marines, offering to take the place of a fellow welder with three children, who had been drafted. Rog shipped off to Iwo Jima, a member of the Fifth Amphibious Corps, serving as a member of the military police. After nearly four years overseas, he returned to the U.S. in January of 1946, settling in Boston. Thanks to the GI Bill, Rog earned bachelors and masters degrees from Boston University, and worked part time at the gourmet provision shop, SS Pierce. There, he met Katherine Purcell, a Boston native who would become his only true love and wife of 70 years. The young couple had their first official date on her 18th birthday in 1946, at a Red Sox game. They were married in 1949. With a teaching certificate in hand, Rog and Kay moved to Battle Creek, Michigan in 1951. Rog taught history at Battle Creek High School. Influenced by his first cousin, Rev. Dana McLean Greeley, a Unitarian Universalist minister, Rog considered Divinity School. His interest in oration and ministry was recognized in 1957, when he was called to full time ministry by the congregation of the People’s Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Thus began an amazing and inspiring 28 year tenure at People’s, a Unitarian Universalist Church founded in 1886.The church grew considerably under his leadership; his accomplishments were many, including starting the first senior center in Michigan; community theatre productions, summer family camp outs, Friday Night Family Movie Theatre. Perhaps his Christmas services were the most memorable, when he swung down from the third balcony on a rope (Swinging Santa.) The kids loved it and so did he. Civil Rights, the separation of church and state, and family planning were significant public policy interests, leading Rog to serve on local Boards of NAACP, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. He and Kay marched on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King in August 1963. He also toured the U.S. for several years recreating the orations of Robert Ingersoll, accompanied by his beloved friend and co-creator, the late Floyd Smith of Kalamazoo. Rog was a published author, which included TJ Day by Day, the sayings of Thomas Jefferson; several volumes on the life and work of Colonel Ingersoll; and Don’t Touch Your Toes, a fitness book co-written with Dr. Constantine Nicholas. Rog and Kay loved life and each other. They loved concerts, plays, movies, golf, friends, breakfast out, cruises, sports, and Chicago weekends. They also dearly loved their three children, Bethany Greeley of Georgia, Timothy (Janet) Greeley of Marquette, Will (Mary) Greeley of Midland, as well as their six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, Elliot (Ali) Kaiman of Connecticut, Emily (Brandon) Haugh of Minnesota, Theodore (Erika) Greeley of Marquette, Patrick (Amy) Greeley of Marquette, Nathan (Emily) Greeley of E. Lansing, Matthew (Alyssa) Greeley of Wisconsin; great-grandchildren Malcolm and Otto Kaiman, Lucy and Grady Haugh, Virginia and Finton Greeley, and Adalind Greeley. Kay proceeded him in death, October 2019, an event Roger chose not to recover from. The couple always ended their letters and cards, “Enjoy!”, and often quoted Ingersoll, “The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, the way to be happy is to make others so.” They also lived it. His family would like to thank the staff of Mill Creek Assisted Living and Lake Superior Hospice for their compassionate care. A private family ceremony is planned. In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to donate to the Marine Corps Veterans Association. Fassbender Swanson Hansen Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the family, where condolences may be expressed online at

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