Bremerton pioneer Marie Greer leaves lasting legacy

Marie Greer (second left) and Lillian Walker (far right) were inseparable during their 60-plus year friendship. - H. Emily Moshay photo
Marie Greer (second left) and Lillian Walker (far right) were inseparable during their 60-plus year friendship.
— image credit: H. Emily Moshay photo



On Feb. 21, Lillian Walker lost her best friend and the city of Bremerton, Kitsap County, Washington state and the entire nation and world were left to mourn the passing of a true pioneer.

Services for Greer will be at 1 p.m. today at Miller-Woodlawn on Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

Opal Marie Silvers Greer, who was better known as simply Marie, met Walker in the 1940s and their friendship carried them through the loss of their spouses and other periods of happiness and sorrow for more than 60 years.

“We never had a falling out,” Walker said. “She was my sister, my sister in Christ.”

It was on the return from a trip back East at an airport, where Walker said the sister tag became permanent.

“We saw people loading on the plane with babies and we went up to the man, and I told him we were sisters,” Walker said. “He let us on the plane.”

The pair formed a dynamic duo as they were active in numerous community organizations throughout the years, said YWCA of Kitsap County executive director Linda Joyce.

“This year’s (Women of Achievement) banquet will be the first one they both have been at,” Joyce said. “She (Greer) was such a wonderful lady.”

Although Greer wasn’t one of the original signers of the YWCA’s charter, she officially joined the organization shortly afterwards and is considered one of its founders, Joyce said.

“They were a dynamic duo,” Joyce said of Greer and Walker. “They and their spouses were the first African American members of many organizations in Bremerton.”

When she first arrived in Bremerton in 1994, Joyce said one of the first things she did was to research the YWCA’s history and spend time with its founders including Greer and Walker.

During the 1940s Greer and Walker were joined by white ladies as they staged sit-ins at downtown Bremerton diners as part of the local civil rights movement, Joyce said.

During the YWCA’s early days it had locations throughout the county, Walker recalled.

“We just helped out in any way we could,” she said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples was one of Greer’s main activities along with her church, Ebeneezer AME in Bremerton, Walker said.

“She was very active in the NAACP both on the local and national levels,” Walker said.

Greer served as the national secretary for the Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and held many state level offices as well, Walker said.

“She did so much, it’s just hard to pinpoint just one thing she did,” her best friend said.

In Greer’s obituary, Rev. Dennis Payne, pastor of Ebeneezer AME, wrote “We give thanks to God that we all had an opportunity and privilege to know, love and appreciate the life of a great women. We will miss you dearly, Aunt Marie.”

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