Richard Greene sat down at his kitchen table, a small pile of books in front of him. He and his wife, Ramona Bobe-Greene, had planned to record their journeys in them after she recovered from a variety of health problems in 2016. “I picked up these journals, figuring we would chart this latest adventure,” Greene said.
That never happened, however, because the couple was dealt the most difficult of hands last August. Bobe-Greene was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer without much warning, and she died on Nov. 28, at age 64. Two of the three journals on Greene’s table were still in their wrapping.
The extraordinary story that was Bobe-Greene’s life started in Brooklyn, where she was born on May 21, 1954. She was the oldest surviving child of Raymond Bobe, a decorated World War II Navy veteran, and Laetitia Hernandez. Her father died when she was just 7, which prompted her mother to move to Bayshore with Ramona and her younger sister, Cheryl. There Hernandez later remarried.
Bobe-Greene lived a turbulent, troubled childhood, yet she excelled in school. After graduating from high school, she went to SUNY Delhi, where she earned a degree in business. But she soon realized that business wasn’t her calling, so she went back to school, enrolling at SUNY New Paltz for a year before transferring to LIU- C.W. Post, and completing another degree in criminal justice. There she met Richard Greene.
When Greene first spotted his future wife — on Oct. 21, 1976, he recalled — he was struck by her smile, and they started dating soon afterward. “She kind of filled the room without trying, and [she had] no airs at all, no pretentions or anything like that,” Greene said. “She was the best thing I had ever seen. She was all the right things wrapped into one.”
“Very few people would dislike Ramona,” he added.
Bobe-Greene began her career in 1977 at Nassau County Offender Aid and Parole Services, where she helped released prisoners reacclimate to life outside prison. The following year she started working with Neighborhood Youth Corps, as a counselor for high school students. That experience motivated her to earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling at Post, as well as state and national certification in the field.
In 1985 she opened a private practice on Glen Cove Avenue in Glen Head, and worked with clients for 35 years. She and her husband lived in Sea Cliff, but moved to Glen Cove in 1996, and over the years they traveled widely.
Bobe-Greene and Gina Pisciotta, who owned Suggestions, a paper and party goods store across the street from Bobe-Greene’s practice, became fast friends, and were the first two female members of the Glen Head-Glenwood Business Association, which advocates for local businesses. “It was like an old man’s club, and here come two women,” Piscotta recounted. “It was hard to get people to listen to our opinion. In the end, we spearheaded many projects for the association.”
Pisciotta said she admired Bobe-Greene’s dedication to the clients she saw at her practice. “She was very passionate about what she did,” Pisciotta said. “The clients that she had came first, above everything.”
Pisciotta later added, “Everything Ramona did, she did with all of her heart and passion like you can’t imagine.”
“Her life was really about helping people find themselves,” said Tucker Tongue, a friend of Bobe-Greene’s and a fellow member of the business association. “Over the years, she made a lot of other people’s lives better.”
Bobe-Greene was an active volunteer, working as a congregational counselor at the Glen Cove Christian Church and organizing group counseling sessions at Living Water for Women, a transitional home for women in recovery.
When her mother developed vascular dementia in the mid-2000s and her health deteriorated, Bobe-Greene made sure she got the best care possible, with the help of the Glen Cove Senior Center. “I watched her take care of her mother for many years,” said Carol Waldman, the center’s executive director, “and rarely do you get to see that kind of compassion.”
Waldman said that Bobe-Greene’s work at the senior center benefited not only her mother. “She would look at work at the senior center not only in terms of her mom,” Waldman explained, “but also how it could help the rest of the community.”
She later added, “All of us are much better off for having her in our lives.”
Though Bobe-Greene had a number of health-related problems of her own, she never let them get in the way of her efforts on behalf of others. She had issues with her legs and back, from which she recovered shortly before her mother died in 2016. But the Greenes’ lives changed for good last September, when Ramona’s cancer was diagnosed.
She spent most of the last month of her life hospitalized, yet still talked with her clients by phone until her final days. “She stopped speaking to her clients when she stopped being able to speak,” her husband said.
Bobe-Greene leaves a low-key but far-reaching legacy in her community and beyond. Up until her death, she was receiving calls and letters from people across the country, thanking her for helping them in one way or another. She helped save lives, and asked for little in return.
Her current or past clients who are in need of assistance are invited to call her office at (516) 676-3222 and leave a message and phone number and Cheryl Bobe will offer any assistance needed. Donations in Bobe-Greene’s memory can be made to Living Water for Women of Glen Cove, which also welcomes volunteers. Donations can also be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society.