by Sue Ann Rybak
Capt. Kenneth W. Greene Sr., 60, of Mt. Airy, understood the meaning of the words Duty, Integrity and Self Sacrifice. The 23-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department, who worked at Engine Company 37 in Chestnut Hill, exemplified these virtues in his personal and professional life every day before he died in September 2017, after being hospitalized while on duty at the fire station.
Capt. Timothy Gough, of Engine 37, said Greene, who graduated from Germantown High School, dedicated his life “to serving the community.” Greene, who was born in Virginia, loved sports. In high school, he played for the Germantown Bears Football Team, where he earned the nicknames “Mean Kenny Greene” and the “Green Machine.”
“He loved to coach football at Germantown High School and also offered up his time to mentoring young adults,” he said. “He was a man who was confident in his decision-making and stuck strongly to his beliefs. Kenny said to me on many occasions that he cherished the time he was able to serve the citizens of Chestnut Hill here at Engine 37, and he always made an effort to talk with every member of the neighborhood that he came in contact with.”
Earlier this month, Greene and Capt. Matthew LeTourneau were remembered at the City of Philadelphia’s annual Living Flame Memorial Service, which honors firefighters and police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Both firefighters’ names were inscribed on plaques surrounding the circular, three-pronged open-air-memorial at Franklin Square Park, 7th and Race streets in Philadelphia.
Mayor Jim Kenney, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel and Police Commissioner Richard Ross paid tribute to all 293 firefighters and 272 police officers who have died in the line of duty in the city’s recorded history.
“On this solemn occasion of reflection and remembrance, we respectfully honor those who dedicated their lives to the citizens of Philadelphia,” Kenney said. “We are eternally grateful to two firefighters whom we lost in recent months, Captain Kenneth Greene, Sr., a beloved father and community leader, and Capt. Matthew LeTourneau, a fearless leader and committed role model. They lost their lives serving the greater good. I want the public and families of all of our deceased police and fire heroes to know that we appreciate their sacrifices and selfless service to our city.”
Both Greene and LeTourneau received citations of merit for job performance and heroism from the Philadelphia Fire Department during their careers. In 2007, Greene’s unit received a citation for helping to rescue two people from a house fire in the Brewerytown section of the city.