Vanessa L. Greenleaf

Born October 29, 1957

Vanessa Lynne Greenleaf, 55, of Marblehead, died on August 6, 2013 at the Kaplan Family Hospice House. Vanessa was a wonderful daughter and sister, a loyal wife, a gifted musician, an intrepid sailor, a caring teacher, and a great friend – an inspiration to us all! She taught at Briscoe Middle School, Beverly, MA and was an active member of the Boston Yacht Club.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, she attended Collegedale Academy in Collegedale, Tennessee, where she graduated in 1975. In 1979 she earned a BA in English from Southern Adventist University, also in Collegedale. She was editor of her high school yearbook, wrote for the university newspaper and played the violin in the university orchestra. After college she helped her then husband, John Henson, through medical school, and in 1990 completed an MS in education from Hunter College in New York City.

Vanessa began her teaching career in 1990 as a sixth grade teacher in New York City public schools. In 1991 she joined Brimmer and May, a private school in Chestnut Hill, MA, and after eleven years transferred to Memorial Middle School in Beverly, later joining Briscoe as part of the merger. During her final three years she was a math coach. Vanessa was known for her influence on students’ lives. They wrote that her classes brought what she was teaching “to life,” and that she taught with “inspiration.” Parents thanked her for being a role model for their children, and colleagues were grateful for her mentorship. During her final weeks more than a hundred of her former students in Beverly High School wrote to thank her for changing their lives. Vanessa is survived by her parents, Betty and Floyd Greenleaf, Port Charlotte, FL; a sister, Vickie Knecht, and her husband, Douglas, Mountain View, CA; a brother, Kelvin Greenleaf, Chattanooga, TN; nephews Kyle Greenleaf, Derek Knecht and Donald Knecht and his wife, Andrea, and their daughter, Rory Jo. A niece, Daphne Alyse Knecht pre-deceased her. A wake will be held at Eustis & Cornell Funeral Home, 142 Elm Street, Marblehead on Friday, August 16 from 5:00-8:00 pm. Friends are invited to a Celebration of Vanessa’s Life at Briscoe Middle School Auditorium, 7 Sohier Road, Beverly, MA on Sunday, August 18, 3:00-5:00 p.m. A memorial service will immediately precede interment in Collegedale, TN on August 25. In lieu of flowers please donate to one of the following scholarships; Beverly Dollars for Scholars- The Vanessa Greenleaf Scholarship, Beverly High School, attention: Kelly Orso, 100 Sohier Road, Beverly, MA 01915 or Daphne Alyse Knecht Gym-Masters Spirit Endowed Scholarship. Checks payable to Southern Adventist University with the scholarship name listed on the memo line. Southern Adventist University, Advancement office, PO Box 370, Collegedale, TN 37315. Arrangements by the Eustis and Cornell Funeral Home, Marblehead. Please visit the online guestbook for Vanessa at


  • Visitation Friday, August 16, 2013
  • Celebration of Vanessa's Life Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vanessa L. Greenleaf

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Richard Penson

August 16, 2013

Deepest sympathies. Vanessa was a delight. We miss her.

Alex Dantone

August 16, 2013

Ms. Greenleaf was one of the most kind and compassionate teachers I had the chance of meeting. Her bubbly and optimistic personality is what I will remember most about her. Whenever I was having a bad day, going to her class made me forget about my troubles, because everyone had an enjoyable time in her class. She was passionate about math, but more importantly, helping students understand it, especially with the fun and interactive lessons she planned. She was truly one of a kind, and she will be missed dearly.

Shandelle Henson

August 15, 2013

Vanessa was a great sister to me. From the time I was a little kid she was so nice to me and I adored her. She has been part of my life for 40 years. She was a beautiful, very smart, talented person and a great mathematics teacher! I loved her very much. But I will see you again in a better place and everything will be great. Love, Shandelle

Pam and Bennett Blau

August 14, 2013

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Greenleaf and family, We wanted to send our condolences and to let you know that our girls were so fond of "Ms. Greenleaf". She was their favorite teacher at Briscoe. Our middle child, Phoebe, was particularly taken with her; she helped inspire Phoebe to meet her academic challenges and encouraged her in all realms of the classroom and beyond. I know she will be greatly missed by the Beverly community. With sympathy, THe Blau Family