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Molly Greene

Tuesday, July 23, 2019  
Posted by: Phyllis Peterson
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Molly Green Water Mission

By Gregory Yee and Michael Majchrowicz Gyee 

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Molly Greene, whose international humanitarian group provided clean drinking
water to millions in third-world countries, died on Wednesday during a trip to the
Bahamas with her family. She was 72.
Greene co-founded the nonprofit organization Water Mission with her husband,
George, in 2001. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, according to a
statement by the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Additional circumstances
surrounding Greene’s death have not been made public.
“No words can describe this heartbreaking loss for our family,” Molly’s son, George C.
Greene IV, president of Water Mission, said in a statement. “We mourn the loss to
our family. We know that a larger global family mourns with us and celebrates her
life, as she blessed so many around the world. We ask for your prayers and request
privacy at this time.”
Greene, of Charleston, was most known for her signi􀃓cant contributions in working
to provide disaster-stricken or impoverished areas access to drinking water, made
possible by the filtration systems she and her husband designed.
The idea for the group was born from the devastation the couple witnessed in 1998
after Hurricane Mitch, a Category 5 storm, wreaked havoc on Central America,
Honduras in particular.
While in Honduras, it was a village river that inspired the couple to action, according
to their mission statement.
“The river that flowed through a nearby village was the color of chocolate milk, deep
brown with toxins, bacteria and hopelessness,” the statement reads. “As one of the
newly built water systems became operational, the local villagers were still terri􀃓ed to
drink any water from the river – whether it was clear or not. So Molly and George
placed their own lips to the hose and drank the newly puri􀃓ed water.”
7/23/2019 SC resident who worked to bring clean water to millions drowns in the Bahamas

The Greenes, who for years operated GEL, a Charleston-based environmental lab,
started the nonprofit with a goal of providing clean water to 100 million people
within a decade.
“Having experienced Hurricane Hugo nine years prior, we understood the urgent
need for relief,” Molly Greene wrote in a Thanksgiving column in The Post and
Courier. “George felt called to reach out, and sent an email to Leo Frade, the Bishop
of Honduras, asking what we could do to help. To our surprise, he received a
response the very next day with a speci􀃓c request, ‘We need six water treatment

At the time, she and her husband did not have experience in designing or building
such systems, and research revealed that existing systems were too expensive or too
ine􀃖cient for use in disaster response, Greene wrote.
“Determined not to give up, George pulled out the textbooks and within two hours
had sketched out a design for a water treatment system,” she wrote. “Within two
days, the team at GEL had built and successfully tested a prototype with the help of
Charleston Water System.”
After further work and consulting with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
the six water treatment systems were built and shipped.
John Cook, former CEO of Charleston Water System, was involved in the Greenes’
e􀃕orts since the beginning when he helped complete those 􀃓rst six treatment
Cook went on to serve on Water Mission’s 􀃓rst board of directors before stepping
down in 􀅉􀅇􀅇􀅍 when he left the Charleston area and moved to Greenville.
The initial investment to get the nonpro􀃓t o􀃕 the ground came from the Greenes selling their business, he said.


“They started with no sta􀃕, no money,” Cook said. “If you look at what they have
today ... they had enormous faith and enormous vision.”
Molly Greene was eternally optimistic, a trait that never failed to inspire others, he
said, adding that he has no doubt that her legacy will continue.
“When you talked with her about this mission, she had an unbridled enthusiasm for
what we were doing,” Cook said. “It was hard to be around them and not be inspired.
That’s one of the traits of great leadership.”
The Rev. Je􀃕rey Miller, rector at St. Philip’s Church where Molly and her husband
were members, said he was struck by how the Greenes dedicated their lives to
helping some of the most vulnerable people around the world and by how much their
humanitarian work mirrors the words of Jesus Christ.


“They reached out to the least of these and they made a di􀃕erence, and it’s a
di􀃕erence that transcends Charleston and transcends the world,” Miller said. “It
􀃔ows from their faith and it was genuine.”





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