Jan 7, 2017 — Remembering Frieda Kerstgens Green

The Conservancy is deeply saddened by the passing of Frieda Kerstgens Green, beloved wife of Jim Green, longtime Conservancy supporter and former crewmember. 

Frieda, who sailed on the SS United States’ maiden voyage with her parents, met Jim thanks to a chance encounter aboard the ship during her second voyage in 1957. Their love story was featured in the acclaimed documentary film, “Lady in Waiting.” We send our heartfelt condolences to Jim and their children, John, Heidi, and Chris.


Frieda and Jim Green aboard the SS United States during a 1964 cruise through the West Indies. Courtesy of Jim Green.


Frieda K. Green

Longtime Valencia resident Frieda Kerstgens Green passed away following an extended illness on Nov. 25, 2016. She was 85.

Born Oct. 6, 1931 to Henry and Margaret Kerstgens in their family-run hotel in Thompson, Conn., she was given the name Elfriede Adele. She spent most of her formative years in Holliston, Mass., graduating from Holliston High School and The Art Institute of Boston. Following in her father’s footsteps, she became an accomplished portrait and seascape artist.

Frieda met her future husband during a seemingly chance encounter aboard the transatlantic ocean liner SS United States in 1956. On a blustery day in the middle of the North Atlantic, her kerchief was picked up by the wind, fluttering to a serendipitous landing near the feet of Jim Green, a member of the crew. Jim dutifully retrieved the headscarf and returned it to the grateful passenger – and so began a friendship and partnership that lasted 60 years.

Was their encounter fortuitous or calculated? We’ll never know for sure. During an on-screen interview for the 2008 American Public Television documentary SS United States: Lady in Waiting, Jim recounted the story, and the inquisitive interviewer asked Frieda if she perhaps lost the kerchief on purpose. “I’ll never tell,” she replied.

They were married in Frieda’s hometown of Holliston on March 29, 1958, and started a family. They raised three children: John, Heidi and Christopher. The family relocated several times as Jim, an executive at IBM Corp., was transferred to corporate offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and, eventually, California in 1976.

Frieda worked many years at Hart High School as an ROP (Regional Occupational Programs) counselor. She also volunteered her time as a docent at California Institute of the Arts and in the gift shop at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. Her quick smile and bubbly personality were infectious.

She is survived by her husband Jim; son John and wife Sherri; daughter Heidi McKenzie and husband Michael; son Christopher; grandchildren John Green III, Mariah McKenzie, Michael McKenzie Jr. and Sean Tomer; former daughter-in-law Dawn Zirbel; nephew Henry Kerstgens III and wife Cheryl; nephew Ronald Culver; nieces Karen Clancy, Ruth Carter and Candy Culver; and many other relatives and close friends. She was preceded in death by her older sister Margaret, younger brother Henry Jr., and nephew Richard.

A celebration of Frieda’s life is scheduled 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Valencia United Methodist Church, 25718 McBean Pkwy., Valencia. A lunch will follow in the church’s reception hall.