Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by Claire Reber, Hudson High School History Club; and Thomas L. Vince, Western Reserve Academy archivist and historian. As Hudson prepares to honor the 81 World War I Hudson veterans who served the country a century ago, and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the original dedication of the WWI Memorial bronze tablet this coming Memorial Day, May 27, the Hudson Hub-Times will feature stories of these veterans whose names are engraved on the recently restored bronze tablet. The goal is to bring a greater awareness to the importance and preservation of the existing Hudson WWI Memorial, honor the names of those who served and recall the history of the community in which they lived.
Of the 81 World War I veteran names engraved on Hudson’s WWI Memorial bronze tablet, there are 10 pairs of brothers, plus the three Turner boys of the Turner’s Mill family. Webb M. Greenlese (1895-1930) and his older brother Clell B. Greenlese (1891-1956) were both born in neighboring Twinsburg.
Their father, William J. Greenlese (1866-1952), a painter and decorator for many years in Hudson, and mother Alda L. Bishop (1867-1926), moved to Hudson around 1907, where they lived on North Oviatt Street and raised their six children.
Both Webb, 21, and Clell, 26, Greenlese enlisted June 4, 1917, to serve in the Corp of Engineers in the U.S. Army. They were stationed for training at Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Ala. It was there in the fall of 1917 that the two brothers sent letters home to their parents, describing their experience there prior to going overseas. They were working on the roads, learning how to macadamize roads leading to and from Camp Sheridan where they were stationed.
Their letters were subsequently published in the Hudson Independent, and people in Hudson were proud to know that boys like the Greenlese brothers were serving their country during this great conflict.
Returning from the war, the younger Webb Greenlese married Lisle Billiter, a lifelong resident of Hudson and a member of that old Hudson family. Webb and Lisle Greenlese would move into the family’s house at 37 North Oviatt Street and had one child. Webb died unexpectedly at 34 in early 1930. Lisle continued to live there for the rest of her life until passing away in 1985, just short of her 90th birthday.
Interestingly, this is the very same house that was recently proposed to be demolished, but thankfully through discussions and efforts with several community organizations, it will remain and be fully restored by the current owners. Perhaps a Hudson Heritage Association marker/plaque will be placed there and the Greenlese House finally recognized.
Unfortunately, when WWI veteran Webb Greenlese was buried at Markillie Cemetery in 1930, he never received a headstone identifying his grave, which today still goes "unmarked," buried in an open lot next to the Billeter family plot. There is an effort currently underway by the Hudson American Legion, Lee- Bishop Post 464, to properly honor and identify Webb Greenlese, by obtaining a headstone from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Webb’s older brother, Clell Greenlese, irst married Jessie E. Pontius, a teacher in Twinsburg, in 1913, however she had passed away six-months later that same year. Returning from WWI, Clell married Virginia Agnes Buss (1895-1967), also a member of an old Hudson family, who was raised in the historic 1825 Baldwin-Buss House that still overlooks the Village Green today.
The couple had three children. Clell would also pick-up a position at the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. He was a supervisor of Firestone plants in Akron and later in 1937, would transfer to Memphis, Tenn., where he spent the balance of his career as the manager of the Memphis plant of Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. Clell died in 1956 at 64 and is buried with his wife at Memorial Park Cemetery, in Memphis.
Both Webb and Clell Greenlese are also remembered as two of the original 13 Hudson WWI veteran’s who first established the Hudson American Legion, Lee-Bishop Post 464 in 1920, with Clell serving as their first commander and Webb as first vice commander. It was through the early efforts of these American Legion charter members, that the Hudson WWI Memorial bronze tablet was created, unveiled and dedicated on the Hudson Clock Tower, on "Decorations Day," May 30, 1919.
Excerpts of the Greenlese brother’s story were transcribed from a "Moment in Hudson History," November 2017 edition of Good Day in Hudson on Hudson Community Television, where historian Tom Vince presented a segment on the history of the Hudson WWI Memorial and his research on the Greenlese brothers.