Donald Greenway was proud of his career as an officer with Washington D.C.’s
Metropolitan Police Force. A perfectionist who believed in “doing
things right,” Donald was a member of the Force’s executive
security detail, the contingent that later became the Secret Service.
Along with protecting five U.S. presidents, Donald’s responsibilities
included patrolling Embassy Row and ensuring the safety of countless dignitaries,
ambassadors, and visiting heads of state.
“His work was extremely high-pressure,” says his daughter,
Laurie Roberts, “He never talked much about the things he saw and
experienced, but I know they taught him that the world was often a scary,
threatening place. I think that’s why he was always such a protective
The pressures of his job eventually took a permanent toll on Donald. He
retired from the force in 1979, spending the next 40 years of his life
coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder combined with a serious mood
disorder. Although he was often difficult to deal with when he was having
a flare-up, Laurie’s devotion to him never wavered.
“Dad was protective of me when I was younger, and then the tables
turned,” she explains. “Suddenly, it was my turn to protect
and take care of him.”
Last November, after Donald fell and broke his hip at his home in Virginia,
Laurie moved him to Assisted Living in Frederick. After declining steadily,
he was finally diagnosed with an infected gall bladder in mid-January.
Faced with a dangerous surgery or intensive antibiotic treatment, Donald
summoned the no-nonsense, matter-of-fact attitude that had served him
so well as a police officer. After hearing his options, Donald asked Laurie
to help him find him a way to live out the rest of his days in peace and comfort.
That’s how Donald and Laurie came to be riding in an ambulance together
from Frederick Memorial Hospital to the Kline Hospice House on a cold,
clear Friday morning in January. Laurie recalls that her Dad instantly
loved the House’s quiet, pastoral setting. Every day, Donald’s
nurse would open the French doors in his private room so that he could
see the acres of fields surrounding the house, much like those on the
farm in Pennsylvania where he had grown up. Donald quickly felt comfortable
with the Kline House staff, especially the hospice chaplain, Father Pothin,
who came to visit often.
“My father could be difficult,” says Laurie. “Caregivers
were frequently impatient with him, but the Kline House staff was completely
different. They had a wonderful way of soothing and calming him, and Dad
trusted them to care for his daily needs. That allowed me to just be his
daughter again. I can’t express what a gift that was—to both
Two weeks after Donald’s arrival at the Kline House, Laurie received
the news that her sister, Pam, a breast cancer survivor, had been re-admitted
to the hospital in Virginia. Although he was unaware of the phone call,
Donald’s vital signs began to decline rapidly. He died peacefully
moments later, but not before his heart rate and respirations inexplicably
stabilized again for a short time. Shortly after, Laurie got word from
family in Virginia that her sister had also died, very near to the time
Donald’s vital signs had stabilized. As it turned out, father and
daughter had died within an hour of one another.
“In the face of this enormous loss, my family and I found some comfort
in picturing Dad and Pam waiting for each other, just this side of Heaven,”
says Laurie. “That was just who he was…a loving parent and
a protective father. He would’ve wanted to walk Home side-by-side
with one of his girls.”
“At Kline House, the staff gave my father the three things that he
had lived most of his adult life without: respect, compassion, and understanding,”
says Laurie. “Everyone deserves to know that kind of peace at the
end. We are forever grateful to Hospice of Frederick County.”