Remembering Eleanor Craig Green

Eleanor Craig Green — a longtime Westporter whose books about working with troubled children influenced generations of educators, therapists and parents — died Monday. She was 87.

Her 1st book was P.S. Your Not Listening — and its subject was as fresh as its misspelled title. (It quoted a note from a student.)

In 1965, many youngsters with special needs were sent to programs or institutions, segregated from mainstream schools. Green volunteered to teach Connecticut’s pilot class, bringing “socially and emotionally maladjusted children” to an ordinary elementary school.

Despite community resistance and student defiance, her class demonstrated the social and educational benefits of “mainstreaming” kids with special needs.

P.S. Your Not Listening was published in 1972. It contrasted classroom drama with her other lives: Westport mother of 4 young children, and wife of an aspiring writer. (William Craig, her 1st husband, wrote bestselling World War II histories and suspense novels, including The Fall of Japan.)

Eleanor Craig Green

Writing as Eleanor Craig, she published 2 more books about her work with troubled children: If We Could Hear the Grass Grow and One, Two, Three: The Story of Matt, a Feral Child.

Her 4th book — The Moon is Broken — chronicled her relationship with her eldest daughter. Ann Craig was a performance artist who earned a cult reputation at Lower East Side dance clubs, before her death in 1987.

In 1978 Eleanor Craig married fellow Westporter Paul Green, a magazine publisher. Their Old Mill Beach home was the busy center of a large blended family, and an extensive network of devoted friends.

Paul Green– now 93 — remains an activist against Parkinson’s disease. With his wife’s help, he credits rowing with adding years to his life. She did not retire from her family-centered therapy practice until last year.

Eleanor Craig’s survivors also include her children and stepchildren Richard Craig of Arlington, Virginia; William Craig of Thetford Center, Vermont; Ellen Perlwitz of Putnam, Connecticut; Andrew Green of Oakland, California; Alex Green of Oakland, California; Doug Green of Washington, DC; Katherine Appy of Amherst, Massachusetts, and Peter Green of Westport; 20 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren, and her siblings Claire Megan of Wellesley, Massachusetts, and John Russell of Hull, Massachusetts.

A memorial service is planned for August 31 (11 a.m., St. Luke’s Church). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut.

22 responses to “Remembering Eleanor Craig Green

  1. I read this with much sadness. Eleanor was a beautiful person, a wonderful friend, a brilliant writer, a sparkling companion. She will be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to know her. Bon Voyage, dear Eleanor.

  2. Dan, is Eve Green the ex? Do you remember Mrs Rintoul at Coley jr?

    Mary Palmieri Gai Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Cell 203-984-2169 MaryGai@bhhsne.com

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    • Werner Liepolt

      Different people. Eve and Tom Green are both going to Rowing Nationals next week.

      But the sad loss of Eleanor Green is a shock and great loss to Westport, a large community of educators whom she influenced, and her valiant husband Paul.

    • Seems a little off to be advertising your RE services on this post.

    • Mary Maynard

      No, they are different people. mmm

  3. I was thunderstruck by the picture of Eleanor (who I never knew)! Her daughter Ann was a spittin’ image! I went to elementary school with Ann and we had several chance encounters later in life. All these years later I still think of her often and it must be because I remember her as such a bright, creative and exuberant soul. Probably much like her mother! My condolences to the family.

  4. Audrey Doniger

    How terribly sad…she was one of the great ladies…my heart goes out to all the Craig’s and Greens.

  5. Michael Calise

    So sorry to hear of this they are an inspiring couple. I served with Paul on the RTM. I remember when he left in the 70’s because of his illness. Somehow I knew even then that in spite of his illness they would continue on.

  6. Jeanine Esposito

    Thank you for posting this, Dan. I met Eleanor not too long after moving to Westport in 1991. Having graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education/ Child Development, I was a huge fan of her books. But I was an even bigger fan of Eleanor the person. She was compassionate and direct and wise and willing to take risks and try new things – a wonderful combination. I knew her personally and professionally and she helped me quite a bit. I’m sorry to hear of her passing but I am so glad to have known her. My best wishes to her family.

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I was a classmate of Ann Craig and remember her mother very well as a parent volunteer in elementary school. She was a very nice and warm person as was Ann. I didn’t know about how prominent she and her 1st husband were in their fields until I was in college and read both their books. That’s how unassuming they were. Ann was a tragic loss.

  8. Mary Maynard

    I knew Eleanor only a short time, but she added richly to my life. mmm

  9. Janet Anderson

    Eleanor, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate and humble, a rare combination in our busy world. Her fine spirit has clearly left a profound mark and she will be missed by so many.

  10. Barbara Montague

    Dear Paul, I’ve thought about you and Eleanor so often and Im shocked to hear of her death. My ex spouse, David Matlow , sent me her obituary. Eleanor was a special person for me and I feel very privileged to have been touched by her warmth, intelligence, and compassion. I haven’t seen her in so long but i always knew she was there with you in Westport. I hope you’re doing ok Paul

  11. Scott Sidell

    Simply put, she was an incredible human being. We were all blessed to be part of her life. Old Mill Beach just won’t be the same without her.

  12. Rest in peace, Eleanor. You remain well loved.

  13. Richard R. Craig

    thank you dan for featuring this for our mom.

  14. So many friends of Ann, Rich, Bill, and Ellen had Prospect Rd. as a popular hangout, thanks in large part to Eleanor’s generosity and genuine caring and affection. We loved her…. such a brilliant and beautiful person, it feels like an honor to have been the recipient as a boy of some of her kindness.

  15. Thank you, Dan, and all neighbors and friends for these lovely memories.

  16. Joellen Lawson

    Many thanks to Eleanor’s husband Paul and her entire family for sharing this extraordinary woman with those of us who were so privileged to know her. Our personal and professional relationship extended through over 30 years of trials, tribulations and triumphs. It is my intention to do my best to channel my “Inner Eleanor” by modeling her humor, grace, loving-kindness, resiliency and gentle spirit as well as her strong promotion of social justice. My family and I are so grateful to represent just a small spark of her everlasting legacy. Eleanor, you will be missed and never forgotten. Love always, Joellen Lawson and the Nelson family.

  17. I am sorry to say I did not know of Eleanor’s passing, until today, as I was away for three months. On Saturday night I sent Eleanor a photo, taken that night, of the bride, now 25, who was a child of seventeen, when Clan no Gael Players took Eleanor’s play ALWAYS to Ireland and toured it to four theatres in Kerry and Clare in 2008. Eleanor and Paul as well as her son Bill and his wife went with us. In 1998 we had done the first reading of ALWAYS, her partially auto-biographical play, and then, the premiere production. At the wedding reception we gathered everyone in the room, that had traveled to Ireland with the play, to take a group photo around the star of ALWAYS, who was the bride. When I got home I sent an especially sweet photo, a had managed to snap on my phone, off to Eleanor, via email. I was sure she would like it. I suggested that we meet for lunch. Eleanor was a joy to all. We met at a time that certainly enriched my life. Eleanor was a loving, giving, creative, warm woman with a gentle smile and nature. Her Irish roots were evident in her face and script. Her loving spirit will live on. I feel privileged to have known her. My sad condolences to Paul and her wonderful family who she adored. Bye – bye – bye, Eleanor!