The Passing of Fred Greene

To the Williams community,

I write to share the sad news that Fred Greene, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Government, Emeritus, passed away on September 3 in Williamstown. He was 97.

Fred taught at Williams from 1949 to 1986. During those decades teaching, researching and writing about international relations, he spent several years as a political and military analyst for the National Security Council and the Department of Defense, as well as teaching at the National War College. In both the early and late 1960s, he served as director of the State Department’s Office of East Asian and Pacific Research and Analysis. For 25 years, he served as director of the Williams College Executive Program, which offered summer courses in the social sciences and humanities to mid-level corporate executives.

“Fred remembered his job at Williams primarily in terms of students he had taught,” said Guy Hedreen, a longtime friend and Amos Lawrence Professor of Art. “People were everything to him. Over the course of all our conversations, I don’t think he ever said a mean thing about anyone who was not a politician. Even our discussions of politics, about which he had strong and well-informed opinions, were framed by humor.”

Fred’s interest in foreign policy began at a young age. He served as a Japanese language officer in the Army during World War II and was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant. With an A.B. from City College of New York and a Ph.D. from Yale University, his scholarship on U.S. foreign policy, particularly in relation to East Asia, was widely published in books and journals. He is the author of The Far East and U.S. Policy and the Security of Asia, among other books, including In the Shadows of War: A 20th Century Memoir, which reflects on democracy, humanitarianism, the United Nations, and national and collective security.

Fred is predeceased by his wife, Ruth Light Greene, who passed away in 2011. He is survived by his children, Alicia, Evalyn, Joseph, and Carrie Greene, who is the director of commencement and academic events at Williams.

Our thoughts are with Fred’s colleagues, family, and friends.


Maud S. Mandel
Professor of History; Program in Jewish Studies