Sign of the Cult-Buster (Page 4)
The eldest of four children born to wealth and privilege in Marin County,
Greene has a rogue reputation as a cult-buster that could hardly be more
distant from the legacy of his corporate attorney father, the late A. Crawford
Greene Jr. Both his father and grandfather were partners at San Francisco's
venerable McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen. At Yale Law School, Craw
Greene, as Ford's dad was known, was part of an enduring clique that included
former Reagan administration Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldridge and ex-New
York City Mayor John Lindsay. Another of Craw's pals, former U.S. Sen. James
Buckley, was Ford's godfather.
Craw and Daphne Greene were a dynamic duo. He served for years on the
boards of both St. Luke's Hospital and the Legal Aid Foundation of San Francisco;
she was a charter member of the advisory panel set up for the fledgling
Golden Gate National Recreation Area. They raised their son and three daughters
in a late-19th-century mansion atop Willow Hill, in the upscale community
of Ross, where one or another Greene had been prominent in local affairs
since the 1880s. Ross' Natalie Coffin Greene Park, a redwood and eucalyptus
oasis, bears the name of Ford's paternal grandmother.
The fortresslike house, with its expansive views of Ross Valley, became
a kind of intellectual crossroads during the Greene children's formative
years. The parents played host to the likes of architect Louis Kahn, existential
psychologist Rollo May, Catholic diarist John Tracy Ellis, "and countless
other fascinating people my mother gathered 'round the dinner table,"
recalls Tina Greene, a Sacramento attorney. It was at the house, she says,
that Joseph McGucken, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, and
C. Kilmer Myers, the Episcopal bishop of California, met for the first time.
"From the outside, our lives growing up appeared really enviable,
but the reality is that we were a family of secrets," Tina says.
A particularly explosive secret involved Ford Greene's father, whom both
Greene and his sister describe as "emotionally remote" and who,
despite his professional and social success, never forged a bond with the
children. After nearly 40 years of marriage, Craw Greene dropped a bombshell
on his wife shortly before Christmas of 1990. Acknowledging that he was
gay, he confided that he had been in a 17-year relationship with a heroin
addict three decades his junior named Joseph Miller. They'd met during one
of the elder Greene's clandestine trips to Cape Cod when Miller was still
a teenager. Craw Greene brought Miller to San Francisco and set him up in
an apartment in the Richmond.
Shortly after her husband's revelation (he had already become sick and
three years later would die of AIDS), Daphne Greene summoned her children
to the office of a family counselor and broke the news. She then scribbled
letters to two dozen of her closest friends to inform them of the circumstances
of the couple's separation. After someone gossiped to Herb Caen at the Chronicle,
news of "the senior partner in a most prestigious law firm" taking
up with his gay lover became the talk of the town.
But Ford Greene says he carried an even darker secret.
He says his father's incestuous inclinations toward him were first manifest
during a fondling incident when he was 12, recurred when he was 16, and
culminated in his father's performing a sex act on him when he was 19. The
latter incident occurred after the two of them had smoked marijuana while
sharing a hotel room in Monterey during a weekend event at his sister Catherine's
boarding school, he says.