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Adrian Greek ’50

July 26, 2018, at his home in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Growing up in the town of Hinsdale, Illinois, Adrian followed his interests in math and science. In high school, he started a science club, a slide rule club, and a math club. But after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan, he concluded the world didn’t need more scientists building bombs; they needed ones that would put the world back together. He switched his interests to psychology and sociology. He suffered from asthma in the cold Midwestern winters and decided to go to college in balmy Southern California. Living with relatives, he began classes at Los Angeles City College. The asthma disappeared and Adrian took up hiking and climbing. But he was interested in experiencing campus life at a smaller college. His mother sent him a magazine article that described Reed as a top college with more than its share of Rhodes scholars. One of the math textbooks he studied at City College was written by Prof. Frank Loxley Griffin [mathematics; Reed College President 1954–56], and Adrian recollected, “That recommended it to me. That book had been a pretty clear type of study.”

Reed was more expensive than City College, partly because he now had to pay for room and board. His father worked extra jobs to pay his tuition, and as Adrian put it, “I never worry a great deal about money. I put one foot in front of the other and things seems to take care of themselves as necessary.”

There was heavy snow his first winter at Reed, and the heat in his residence hall dissipated before it reached his room. Adrian bought an old flip-bread toaster at the Salvation Army and used it as a heating element. Psychology was his major, but he jested that his real focus was extracurricular activities. Involved with the outing club, Adrian helped build the ski cabin. He was a student union manager, was active in the camera club, and was  introduced to international folk dancing, which remained important to him for many years. All of this may have compromised his junior qualifying exams, which he flunked, explaining that the exams tapped into other than his focus on experimental psychology. Adrian spent that summer boning up on mental illness and disease, and took the exams again. This time the questions were almost all on developmental and experimental psychology, his strong suit, and he passed. His senior thesis compared reading comprehension and speed in the presence of music and noise, and was advised by Prof. Monte Griffith [psychology 1926–54].

During his senior year, Adrian was part of a search team looking for a student who had failed to return from a climb. It turned out she  had become lost on a trail and was found by rangers. But remembering that moonlight night on Mt. Adams in the company of other Reedies, Adrian concluded: “In terms of learning, the students are as important as the faculty.”

Throughout his life, people would ask, “Aren’t people at Reed sort of weird?” “Well, some are and some aren’t,” he replied. “There are all kinds at Reed, and it’s a good thing that you learn to live with some diversity in your population.”

Reed laid a base for Adrian. “It was a growing period for me in terms of sorting things out and what was important to me,” he said. “It gave me a feeling of ‘You can figure things out and you can do things that maybe you didn’t think you could do before.’ The general feeling coming out of Reed was become a world leader. I can do whatever I want to do, and if I’ve got questions about things, I can research it and find ways to get the information I need to make decisions and figure things out.”

Equipped with a new psychology degree, Adrian realized his passion was helping others achieve their full potential. He returned to Illinois and took a job as an assistant program director at the YMCA on Chicago’s north side. When his boss left, Adrian took over the adult education program, scheduling classes, hiring teachers, and doing public relations and communications. He felt strongly about adult education and the lifelong need to continue learning. Eager to return to the Pacific Northwest, he worked in program and executive positions within the YMCA, both in Tacoma, Washington, and in Portland, where he directed the YMCA’s family life education program.

He lost his wife of 19 years, Delores Smith, to cancer in 1970. The following year, he married Anne Emard, and in addition to the four children he had fathered with Delores, gained six stepsons. Two of their children were “snatched” out of college by recruiters for the Unification (Moonie) Church, and in 1977, Adrian and Anne quit their jobs and founded the Positive Action Center, a nonprofit family education and counseling agency in Portland. They helped found the Cult Awareness Network, an agency that grew out of a meeting of approximately 60 people who had lost relatives to cults. Adrian served as the network’s first president, and in 1988, largely because of their efforts, the Cult Awareness Network held its national conference in Portland, drawing several hundred participants from across the country, including Patricia Ryan, the daughter of California congressman Leo Ryan, who was assassinated by the followers of cult leader Jim Jones in Guyana. Within hours of the assassination, Jones and hundreds of his followers committed suicide by drinking Kool-Aid laced with poison.

Adrian and Anne worked with individuals and families whose members had fallen under the influence of mind-abuse cults. The couple authored the book Mind Abuse by Cults and Others, which explained how such groups operate. They described a destructive cult as having a complex ideology that cannot be scientifically confirmed and must be accepted on faith, a single leader, a unique vocabulary in which conventional terms such as “love” are redefined, deceptive recruiting practices, internal propaganda, coercion to keep members from leaving, and total control of members’ lives.

Adrian was very involved with Reed’s alumni association board and received the Alumni Program Volunteer Recognition Award in 2001 for his volunteer efforts as chair of the Foster-Scholz committee.

“Reed made a real impression on me,” he said. “It wasn’t just the academics as much as it was the people and the experience in lots of other ways.”

Anne, his wife of 32 years, died in 2003. Adrian is survived by his sons, Phillip and Kevin Greek; his daughters, Sheryl “Annie” Fair and April Greek; his stepsons, Barry Emard, Larry Emard, Terry Emard, Jerry Emard, and Garry Emard; and his brother, Ronald Greek. He was preceded in death by his beloved stepson, Kerry Emard.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2018

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