Continuing with our study of the Red, White and Blue Troupe of
the Canal Zone this week with a closer look at the coach himself.
I provided some information about Henry Grieser back on January
1st of this year that came from the Panama Canal Review's July
4, 1958 issue. Well I dug up some more information about Mr.
Grieser since then. Above is a photo that I downloaded from the
"Getty Images" website of Henry and his lovely wife Kathleen
at one of the Pacific Locks in the 1930's. While researching, I
came across this information at the University of Florida / Panama Canal
Henry John Grieser c.1891-1972
Henry was born of German parents in Steinway, New York and shortly afterwards the family moved to Whitestone, Long Island. In his youth Henry gained a reputation as a swimmer and taught swimming at a number of clubs along the shores of Long Island and gave lessons to such notaries as Irving Berlin. In1919 he applied to the Government for a job in the Canal Zone and was accepted as a carpenter. His enthusiasm for swimming and teaching was undiminished and with the encouragement of Thomas Booz, Director of Clubs and Playgrounds, created the job of swimming instructor for the Canal Zone. Out of this he created the Red, White and Blue Swimming Troupe.
Henry married in 1932, Kathleen Green to whom he remained married for the rest of his life. They had no children, however, Kathleen had a son from a previous marriage.
In the mid 1940ís, Henry, in a lavish pageant and ceremony, retired and the couple initially moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. In the early 1950ís Henry and Kathleen moved to Ireland to her ancestral home. Kathleen was born in 1896 at Blarney to a wealthy Anglo/Irish family who then still maintained numerous residences in County Cork. They bought a house in Crosshaven, County Cork where they remained until they both died in late 1972. Henry and Kathleen are buried in the cemetery attached to St. Lukeís, Church of Ireland in Douglas on the outskirts of Cork City.
Henry was my step-grandfather.
I was so excited to read
this information as I couldn't find anything on the personal side of Mr.
I have been reading through
all the 1950 volumes of the Panama Canal Society's Canal Record
for any information about the Troupe or those in the Troupe and found a
couple of notes in the "People you know" section at the
time. September 1955 issue had: Kathleen and Henry Grieser have
purchased an 11 room concrete bungalow with three and one half acres of
fruit, vegetables and flower garden. The call their place "Lakaroo"
which means Red Hill. It is on the Irish coast where they have a
good view of the ocean and can see the ocean liner out in the bay near
the estuary of the Cross Haven River. I have found this before
I found the blog by Roland Green.
March 1956 Canal Record had
a short blurb that has Kathleen and Henry inviting any old friends the
the Canal Zone to visit them if they are traveling in Ireland. I
am sure they missed all those that Mr. Grieser made friends with all
those years in the Canal Zone and all the kids he taught and coached
I am going to continue to
dig through these old issues of the Canal Record to see what else
I can find.
More next week.