John Joseph Greven

October 7, 1939November 22, 2020

John Joseph Greven, age 81, devoted husband of Pat (Zuncic) Greven for 27 years, son of the late Hans Joseph Greven and the late Georgia Mason Greven; born in Chicago, Il., Oct. 7, 1939; died Nov. 22, 2020 at his home in Crest Hill, Il. following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

John grew up in Flossmoor, Il., a graduate of Bloom HS. He went on to University of Chicago, before graduating from University of Illinois, ultimately earning a Master’s in Social Work from George Williams College.

Answering President Kennedy’s call, he served 4 years in the Peace Corps in Colombia (’64-’68). Trained as a Clinical Social Worker, he led counseling groups throughout his life, and retired from Chicago Public Schools as a school social worker.

John was a poet and writer, a master storyteller, and a singer. He was a sailor, with years of adventures out of Montrose Harbor on his King’s Cruiser, named Dover. He loved the Cubs, through all the ups and downs. Beyond being fluent in Spanish, he had a gift for accents. He always found a way to connect to others, engaging them, making them smile through his kindness. He was passionate about politics and social justice issues, and loved to share his researched opinions as a student of history.

He always lit up the room with his charm, humor and easy laugh. To the end, he held on to his wit and warmth with incredible strength.

Survived by his sister, Judy Barnebey, his 3 children and their spouses, Aaron Greven and Kristin Boeke-Greven, Maya Greven and Mike Fowler, Alex and Allison Greven. He was a beloved Papa John and Oompah to his 5 grandchildren, Quinn, Ella, Sequoia, Rowan, and Leo.

In lieu of flowers, be kind to someone, be zany, tell a story, make another laugh, or sing a thank you, and know that he is being carried across the sky by great winds.

A celebration of his life will happen in the summer of 2021, or when it’s safe to gather.


John Joseph Greven

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Michael McCarthy

December 4, 2020

John's son Alex is my dear friend and it was at Alex's wedding 2 years ago that I met John for the first time. I had always heard stories about him from Alex, and it was a pleasure to finally meet him in person. My conversation with John was one of the most memorable moments for me at the wedding. We had a lot in common from our love for sailing to our study of history and politics. John was warm and welcoming to me, and we shared some great laughs. Even though that was the only time I ever got to meet John, I will always remember that moment. My heart goes out to the entire Greven family for their loss. I will certainly sing a song, tell a joke, and be kind to honor the memory of a great man. RIP John! You will be missed.

Richard Stanton

December 3, 2020

I first met John in my family's living room in Flossmoor. He was there to meet with my brother, George, aLong with a few of their friends. Yet, unlike the others, John paused to make a connection. He was like that: John had more empathy than most of his peers. A contact with another was not something through which he hurried.

In recent years John and I reconnected, and came to know one another well. Pat shared John's strength in establishing strong interpersonal relationships, beyond creeds or formal distinctions. Although we shared many touchstones (such as Peace Corps service at the same time, but in different countries) we also found a friendship. I believe that many others also found a real friend in John. And we all will both miss him and we will continue to be delighted that he invited us into his life.