Greystone Oral Histories
A special thanks goes to all of the interviewees who shared
their memories and insights in this effort to preserve Greystone for posterity.
Nora Guthrie, Daughter of Woody Guthrie and President of Woody Guthrie Publications, President of Woody Guthrie Foundation, Founder of Woody Guthrie Archives
Nora talks about her father’s treatment at Greystone Hospital and visits that his family and notable people such as Bob Dylan made to see him there. Nora also discusses her efforts to preserve her father’s legacy through the Woody Guthrie Productions, the Woody Guthrie Foundation, the Woody Guthrie Archives and participation in numerous educational endeavors.
Rod Leith, Daily Record of Morristown (1974-1977) Reporter
The Record of Hackensack (1977-1989) Reporter
As a veteran of reporting on psychiatric hospitals, Rod recounts his focus on the management of Greystone and its treatment of patients. Rod also describes his coverage of the advent of deinstitutionalization and its impact on Greystone patients and the local community
William Westhoven, Daily Record Reporter/Editor
Bill, a long time Morris County, NJ resident and decades old local reporter/editor, chronicles the media coverage of the protracted fight to prevent the demise of the last remaining Greystone building. Poignant memories of being present at the demolition of the building are explored.
Dr. Thomas Craig, Medical Director (1977-1988)
Dr. Ilana Lev-El,, Clinical Psychologist (1973-74, late 1975-1991)
Dr. Craig and his wife, Dr. Lev-El describe the post- Doe v. Klein changes that Dr. Craig introduced including a strong emphasis on family participation, an interdisciplinary treatment approach, and extensive outreach to other service providers.
Grover Kemble, Music Therapist, Recreation Supervisor,
Summers (1967-1970), Full-Time (1985-2010)
Grover offers an extensive range of experiences at Greystone:
His father worked there as a psychiatrist, Grover worked in the Recreation Therapy Dept. for many years and retired as its Director. He was very active in the Preserve Greystone movement and was the author/performer of the “They’re Trying to Tear Ol’ Greystone Down” song.
Richard Maizell, Psychology Intern (9/85-6/86)
Dr. Maizell shares his experience working in the Dormitory and the Krol Ward (patients found not guilty by reason of insanity). His responsibilities included providing therapy to patients, conducting evaluations, and supporting family members.
Peggy Mesinger, Director of Pastoral Services
Peggy describes the uplifting impact her 25 years of pastoral care had on patients who actively participated in the creation of a spiritual community.
Geri Silk, Dance Therapist
Geri’s recollections of her employment at Greystone, reflect her free spirit and originality when creatively engaging patients. She also describes her participation in the various advocacy efforts to save Greystone’s last standing building.
Norma Stanton, R.N., Student Nurse (1954-1955)
Norma describes her very positive experience as a nurse in training and provides a glimpse into the nursing profession in the 1950’s.
Bill Ulrich, ACSW, Director, Social Services Dept., Volunteer – Post Retirement (1958-1991)
Bill’s touching stories of preparing patients for their discharges and taking them to the opera as a connection to the outside world, speaks to his upbeat belief in the potential of Greystone residents.
Butch Acker, Part Two – A Frequent Visitor to Numerous Greystone Buildings
During his child and teen years, Butch accompanied his father, the Greystone Fire Chief to perform fire inspections throughout the hospital campus. Butch shares his encyclopedic knowledge of the structure and use of various buildings.
John Huebner, President (2013-2015), Preserve Greystone
John tells the inspiring story of the grassroots advocacy group, Preserve Greystone, and their efforts to preserve the last of the former Greystone buildings. The necessity of historic preservation and the value of repurposing buildings is discussed in depth.
Ted Hussa, Co-Founder of Preserve Greystone, Former Mayor of Denville
Ted chronicles the early stages of growing community concern regarding potential demolition of a local iconic landmark, Greystone Hospital’s Main building. He describes the beginnings of the advocacy group, Preserve Greystone and analyzes some of the barriers the group faced.
Dr. Carla Yanni, PhD, Professor, Department of Art History, Rutgers, The State University of NJ
Dr. Yanni, the author of The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States gives a detailed overview of the architectural and social history of psychiatric hospitals in the United States, including Greystone Hospital.
Governor RIchard Codey, Driving Force Behind NJ Mental Health Care Reform
Governor Codey recounts his lifelong efforts to promote NJ mental health reform with a focus on Greystone. The Governor shares his memories of going undercover at Greystone, his relationship with its patients, and his thoughts about the Main Building’s demolition.
Robert Davison, President, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris County, NJ
As a proponent of mental health care in NJ for over 30 years and the Chairperson of Governor Codey’s Mental Health Task Force (2004), Bob shares his knowledge about the operations of the Greystone throughout the years. He also provides insight into the importance of patient advocacy and mental health reform.
Dr. Eileen McEvoy, Student Psychologist (1974)
Dr. McEvoy recounts joining with other psychology students to report untenable hospital conditions to a local newspaper. She recalls the anxiety of testifying before the NJ legislature, whose findings initiated the Doe v. Klein lawsuit.
Michael L. Perlin, Professor Emeritus at New York Law School and co-founder of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates, was director of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in the NJ Department of the Public Advocate, and was one of the lawyers who filed the complaint in Doe v. Klein.
Michael discusses the state of mental disability law in the early 1970’s and the conditions at Greystone Hospital before and at the time that the Doe case was filed, and contextualizes Doe with other mental disability law reform litigation in NJ and elsewhere.
Dr. Shirley Smoyak, Professor, School of Nursing, Rutgers University
Chairperson, Doe v. Klein Monitoring Committee
Dr. Smoyak recounts her connections to Greystone beginning in the mid 1950’s as a nursing student training at Greystone under the supervision of Dr. Hildegard Peplau. She also describes the Doe v. Klein lawsuit and her role as the Chairperson of the Doe v. Klein Monitoring Committee. Shirley was designed a Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing in 2004. She also received the 2011 Award for Distinguished Services from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
Butch Acker, Part 1 – Growing Up At Greystone (1944-1961)
Butch reflects on his father’s position as Greystone’s Fire Chief and the unique experience of living on the Greystone campus during his childhood and teen years.
Harry Noble, Three Generations at Greystone
Harry recalls the pleasures of growing up at Greystone, along with other WWII veterans’children. Harry also gives vivid descriptions of being employed at Greystone, as were his parents and son. His shares his supportive perspective of individuals with mental illness .
Samuel Horst, WWII Mennonite Conscientious Objector
Samuel, age 98, talks about his commitment to the Mennonite ideal of pacifism and his employee orientation at Greystone while doing WWII alternative service.
Harold Lehman, WWII Mennonite Conscientious Objector
At the age of 97, Harold recalls his training at Greystone as a WWII Mennonite C.O. Harold’s experiences contributed to the Mennonite Church’s commitment to mental health reform.
WWII Conscientious Objectors at Other Psychiatric Hospitals
The interviews below are of WWII Conscientious Objector who served in psychiatric hospitals other than Greystone, who also made a significant contribution to post WWII mental health care.
Laban Peachey, Mennonite War II Conscientious Objector
Laban, age 91, discusses how his positive civil public service at R.I. State Psychiatric Hospital influenced his career path as the former President of Hesston College and Dean of Eastern Mennonite University.