- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

Yesterday’s procession at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Northwest included dignitaries such as the Right Rev. John B. Chane and the Right Rev. Jane Dixon, the current and the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

A familiar figure missing from the front of the procession was the short, erect and silver-haired form of Judith Jordan Greene, the assistant and chaplain to the bishops. She was ushered into the sanctuary in a linen-covered coffin.

“Judi,” as she was known to those fortunate to come into contact with her quick tongue, wit and infectious laughter, suffered a heart attack in her Northwest home Friday. She had turned 62 this month.

“Judi was a daughter of Washington,” D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said during the presentation of a council proclamation honoring her neighbor.

Note that the standing-room-only congregation had as many white clerical collars as the Virginia Theological Seminary’s cafeteria at lunchtime.

Mrs. Cropp recalled that when her family moved to the District, Judi “came across the street and brought rolls and gossip and we became fast friends.”

Bishop Chane called her “a pistol of a woman” — all 4 feet 10 inches of her.

But no one ever dared mistake her size for her stature.

“We all have Judi stories,” said Bishop Chane, noting that he spent more time with her than anyone else, save his wife.

During a solemn occasion when they were walking out of the Washington National Cathedral, he said, Judi stopped and reached over to Bishop Chane’s wife and put the couple’s hands together. That move raised some eyebrows.

“Hey, you didn’t get here by yourself,” he recalled her saying.

Traveling around the diocese each week with the bishop, Judy provided “the skinny” on the congregations before the pair’s scheduled visit. Because no two congregations worship alike, Bishop Chane said Judi “knows worship well and could read a parish better than anyone.”

For instance, Bishop Chane said, he thought he had delivered a good sermon one Sunday on one of those “hot-button days when the issue was the federal budget 2006.”

When he finished, Judi leaned over and whispered, “You’ve got to pack it up real quick. I think they’re going to lynch you. I sent for the car and we’ll tell [the congregation] you’ve got to get to another engagement.”

Judi, also the former interim executive director of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, was in many ways a young girl’s role model.

I first met her when I was a teenager, attending Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Alexandria. She was a standout in the choir. Her hair was long, dark and silky then but as always Judi was warm, welcoming and forever joking.

At the time, she was still married to Nelson E. Greene Jr., owner of Greene Funeral Home in Alexandria, and the couple had two young children, Nelson III (“Chip”) and Nina.

A graduate of D.C. Teacher’s College, Judi was baptized in the Metropolitan Baptist Church in the District, but she became enamored of Anglicanism and converted after her marriage.

“This ceremony is full of the Anglican tradition, which she so loved,” Nina said yesterday.

Indeed, Judi took her liturgical duties at the cathedral, at St. Luke’s and at all the parishes seriously. As a verger, she assisted with ceremonial and administrative duties and trained others to do so.

Anyone who has visited the cathedral for the funerals of so many dignitaries, such as President Reagan, may remember how proud and proper this gracious black woman marched with a silver-handled scepter.

Bishop Chane advised Nina “never to lose the look of your mother: a look that could stop a clock, change a traffic pattern, reroute a liturgical procession and put fear in hearts.”

Judi was nothing if not a kidder.

Last year as I was being reconfirmed at the cathedral, Judi ushered the Rev. Barbara Harris over to bless me and quipped, “This is Adrienne; she’s our troublemaker.”

Then Judi gave me her infamous yet reassuring wink, which many a parishioner knows was often delivered even during Communion.

Nina, as she too delivered funny one-liners at Judi’s life “celebration” yesterday, is definitely her “mother’s daughter.”

“She was sharp in spirit, attire and tone,” she said of her mother.

Judi was “a born teacher,” possessed a distinctive and melodious voice wherein she enunciated each syllable, even during rousing political debates. She also was a stickler for grammar.

“Judi didn’t take fools easily,” Mrs. Cropp said. “She’d ask questions, she’d challenge you and she’d look over those glasses and ask, ‘Are you out of your mind?’” if she disagreed with you.

As Mrs. Cropp said: “Judi certainly left the District of Columbia a much better place.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide