Wednesday, 20 November 2013

William Greer - Ulster-Scot and driver to American presidents

The 50th anniversary of the murder of President John F Kennedy has raised the profile of the man who was driving the presidential car on the day that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.  That man was William Robert Greer and he was born on 22 September 1909 on a farm at Drumbanaway, Stewartstown, county Tyrone. 
At the age of 19 Greer sailed from Belfast to Quebec on the Cunard ship Andania, as a third-class passenger, on 25 May 1929.  A further record exists of a William Greer crossing into America at Vanceboro, Maine, not long after that date.
For more than a decade he worked as a servant and a chauffeur to wealthy families
After serving in the US Navy during the 2nd World War, William Greer joined the American Secret Service in 1945 and joined the White House staff in November 1950.  He was a bodyguard to President Truman and President Eisenhower and was then chosen to drive Kennedy through Dallas on 22 November 1963.
In Ulster the family were Presbyterians but in America Greer became a Methodist and some conspiracy theorists have used this Ulster Protestant background to support their theory that Kennedy was the victim of an anti-Catholic plot involving Greer!
William Greer spent most of his life in America but never forgot his Ulster homeland.  On several occasions he travelled back to visit family and friends in Stewartstown and Belfast and in the 1970s he visited his parents' grave in Ballyclog churchyard.

1 comment:

  1. The NewsLetter (22 November 2013) has provided some additional information on William Greer. He was baptised at Ballyclog Presbyterian Church and educated at Ballymaguire Primary School. Greer was initiated into the Orange Order on 7 July 1927 and was a member of Drumbonaway LOL 214. His father Richard Greer was the treasurer of the lodge. William became a committee member in the lodge but two years later he decided to emigrate. He sailed from Belfast to Quebec on the Cunard ship Andania as a third-class passenger on 25 May 1929. William Greer died in 1985 and was buried in North Carolina.