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Constance Greene, Writer, Was 96

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 09:46

Constance Clarke Greene came to writing honestly. Her grandfather Arthur L. Clarke was the first managing editor of The Daily News, and her father, Richard W. Clarke, held the same position until he retired in 1968. Ms. Clarke worked as a reporter for the Associated Press during World War II before marrying, raising five children, and embarking on a career as a prolific author of children's books.

Perhaps her best-known book, "A Girl Called Al," published in 1969, was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association and called "a sparkler" by Kirkus Reviews.

"Beat the Turtle Drum," a story about the death of the older of two sisters, was marked by "her trademark blend of quirky humor and acute perception," according to Publishers Weekly. Her daughter Stephanie Greene, who is also a writer of children's books, said "Beat the Turtle Drum" was based on the author's own childhood, and the story was made into an ABC Afterschool Special.

"She always said she knew she was fortunate to be writing during the years when the National Arts Foundation was as supportive of children's books as it was," her daughter said. "She had an ear for dialogue and identified with the frustrations and headaches of adolescents." Her writing career spanned the years 1968 to 2010.

Mrs. Greene died on April 7 at Connecticut Hospice in Branford, Conn. She was 96 and had been ill for six months.

She was born on Oct. 28, 1924, in New York City to Richard W. Clarke and the former Mabel McElliott. She grew up in the city and in Larchmont, N.Y., and attended Marymount School and Skidmore College before going to work as a journalist.

She married Philip Greene on June 8, 1946. They had a house on North Main Street in East Hampton from 1976 to 2001. She was a member of the board of the East Hampton Library and helped to organize children's parties during the summer, according to her daughter, who added, "My parents loved living in East Hampton and had many friends." Mr. Greene died in 1998.

In addition to her daughter, who lives in Fairfield, Conn., Mrs. Greene is survived by her four other children: Sheppard Greene of Bernardsville, N.J., Philippa Mulford of Duxbury, Mass., Matthew Greene of Esopus, N.Y., and Lucia Greene of Newburyport, Mass. Eleven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren also survive.

A memorial service will take place in June in the Greene family plot at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.

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