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John S. Greenway, community leader and Arizona Inn owner


He can be remembered as an attorney, as a community leader, as a personal friend of former President Bush, and as the owner and director of the historic Arizona Inn.

But John S. Greenway is most remembered by family and friends as someone dynamic who was always eager to help others.

Mr. Greenway died Wednesday night of emphysema. He was 70.

He became director of the Arizona Inn in 1953 when his mother, Isabella Selmes Greenway, died.

She was the first congresswoman in Arizona’s history and built the midtown resort in 1930.

The inn is recognized for its long line of famous guests and its well-preserved, historic decor and ambiance. Guests over the years have included the duke and duchess of Windsor, John F. Kennedy, Spencer Tracy and members of the Rockefeller family.

“It is on the National Register of Historic Places. He preserved its unique character and tradition,’ said Patty Doar, managing director of the Arizona Inn and Mr. Greenway’s niece.

Mr. Greenway’s family moved to Tucson in 1930. He attended Yale University, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor of arts degree. He graduated from the University of Arizona’s College of Law in 1954.

He served in the Army Reserve Corps from 1942 until 1946. In 1945, he served in Alaska.

The Grace Flandrau Memorial Planetarium at UA was built using money bequeathed by Mr. Greenway’s aunt.

A founding member of the UA Foundation, he was vice president when construction of the planetarium began in 1974. He led the fund-raising drive to build it.

He was county chairman for the Democratic Party beginning in 1952, holding the post for several years.

He also was chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party in the 1950s and 1960s and served as an Arizona representative to the Democratic National Committee.

Both former President Bush and current Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt had Mr. Greenway’s admiration and campaign financial support.

He contributed to Babbitt’s campaigns as Arizona governor from 1978 to 1984 and played host to Babbitt at his home on several occasions, said Betsy Bolding, former director of Babbitt’s Tucson gubernatorial office.

Greenway and Bush were close friends at Phillip’s Academy in Andover, Mass., where the two roomed across the hall from each other. Despite differences in political parties, Mr. Greenway supported Bush’s run for president.

Mr. Greenway also was a director of the Pima County Health Association and the Southern Arizona Bank and Trust Co.

He served as chairman of the board of trustees at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

In the 1970s he helped establish Alcoholics Anonymous in Tucson and was consistently supportive of recovery programs in the area, his niece said.

Although health problems preoccupied him in recent years, he remained dedicated to supporting substance abuse treatment programs, she said.

“I think he made substantial contributions to the community. He was active in social causes, political causes and community causes. He was always willing to get involved without any expectation of a lot of praise or a lot of acclaim,’ said Tucson attorney Lawrence Hecker.

Hecker met Mr. Greenway as an undergraduate at UA.

Hecker was a waiter at the Arizona Inn during school and later performed legal services for the inn.

“He was beloved by his friends. Friendship can be a very complex thing. He had a really developed gift of friendship,’ Doar said.

Mr. Greenway is survived by stepsisters Saranne Neumann of Tucson and Barbara Hawley of Fairfield, Conn.; stepbrother Harry King Jr. of Scottsdale; and several nieces and nephews.

The family is asking that memorial contributions be made to a charity of choice.

No public services are planned.

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