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For whom the bells toll: Siblings honor late father

From left: University of Rochester students Hudson Greif '27, Braden Greif '24, and Nina Greif '25 sit on the memorial bench for their father, Scott Greif, who died in 2021 after a long battle with cancer. The bench was purchased with a memorial fund created by his friends to ensure that his presence would always be felt on campus. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

A bench outside the Goergen Athletic Center stands as a memorial to the man who discovered the University for his three children.

The sun set in the distance as Braden Greif ’24 and his father, Scott, drove away from the University of Rochester on a warm June evening in 2019. Braden had enjoyed an overnight visit hosted by the varsity football team, and father and son spent hours touring the River Campus. Now, they were heading toward the airport for a flight home to Houston, Texas.

“We discussed how it was, and the people that stood out and made the difference there,” Braden recalls. “The vibe we got was that winning was a mindset at Rochester, ingrained in every aspect of college life.”

Scott then said what both were thinking: “I think this might be the school for you, Braden.” That evening, he told his wife, Michelle, “There’s something special about that place.”

Braden will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Siblings Nina Greif ’25 and Hudson Greif ’27 followed him to Rochester. Nina is majoring in bioethics, and Hudson in health, behavior and society. The three are here with heavy hearts: In June 2021, their father died of colon cancer. He was 53.

“It was our dad who discovered Rochester,” Nina says. “But he never got to enjoy seeing us all there.”

Scott Greif is memorialized with a bench installed outside the Goergen Athletic Center, a gift from friends of the family. The commemorative gold plaque reads:

I have fought the good fight
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

 Scott Greif 1968–2021
“When you hear the Bells think of Me”

Close bond helped siblings deal with family tragedy

Braden and Scott visited more than a dozen colleges in New York, Connecticut, Colorado, and Minnesota, seeking a school that offered great academics along with a fun football experience.

They made the 1,500-mile trip to Rochester three times. Each time, Scott was struck by the sound of the Hopeman Memorial Carillon bells chiming from atop Rush Rhees Library. The bells chime Westminster Quarters on the quarter hour and toll once for every new hour.

“My dad loved walking the campus and hearing them,” Braden says. “He’d say, “I just love those bells.’ He thought they were beautiful and peaceful.”

The entire family visited in December 2019. “Hudson and I were determined to go to the same college as Braden,” Nina says. “This was an easy decision. We fell in love with the campus.”

Braden played wide receiver for Rochester for three years (there were no games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), while Hudson joined the Yellowjackets last fall. The coaches offered Nina a job videotaping practices and games. She’s also a member of the student organization Ballet Performance Group.

The siblings’ faith has helped them cope with their loss. As members of the Catholic Newman Community, they attend weekly mass at the Interfaith Chapel, while as part of the St. Sebastian Society, they and their fellow Rochester student-athletes perform community service. “Our saying was always ‘Faith, family, football,’” Braden says. “After I got to college, it became “faith, family, academics, and football.”


The siblings are close.

“We have enough bedrooms at our house for each to have their own, but Braden and Hudson choose to share a room,” Michelle says. “At college, Braden and Nina have rooms across the hall from each other, and Nina keeps an air mattress so Hudson can come over and spend the night.”

Nina and Hudson had two classes together in the fall and two more this semester.

Rev. Brian C. Cool ’06W (MS), ’21W (EdD), director of the Catholic Newman Community, says the Greifs’ bond is extraordinary.

“The devastating loss of Braden’s father was difficult, but his inner strength was remarkable,” Cool says. “When Nina arrived, I saw how deeply rooted they are with each other. Welcoming Hudson to campus, it became clearer. The strength they all have is like a three-stranded rope woven together as one. It is incredible. It is rooted in faith and family.”

A dire diagnosis

Scott and Michelle raised their three children in Conroe, 40 miles north of Houston, and sports became an integral part of family life: baseball, basketball, swimming, track, dance—and, of course, football. Scott served as the boys’ Little League coach and president of the varsity football booster club. “He was at every minor or major event and milestone,” Nina says.

Scott was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2020, Braden’s first semester at Rochester. He started chemotherapy but didn’t tell his children until Braden returned home for winter break. “It was tough to hear, but he said ‘I’m going to beat this,’ and we believed him,” Braden says.

Scott’s health worsened in April 2021, when a PET scan revealed the cancer had spread, making surgery necessary. Still, he remained optimistic. “When you go for treatment, there’s a bell you can ring when you’re cancer free,” Hudson says. “Dad would say, ‘I’m going to ring that bell one day. God’s not done with me yet.’”

With Scott hospitalized and Michelle by his side, Braden and Hudson attended Nina’s high school graduation ceremony on May 21 and her final dance recital on June 6. Nina chose the Avril Lavigne song “Head above Water” for her solo. “It’s about pushing through and fighting through hard times,” Nina says.

A friend taped Nina’s performance and sent it to Michelle’s smart phone that evening. “Scott, we’ve got the video for Nina’s dance,” Michelle whispered in her husband’s ear. “We’re going to play it now.”

Braden held the phone by his father’s ear. “He listed to the entire song, and then he passed away,” Michelle says.

Braden spoke to his father through tears.

“Dad, I’m not sure I’m ready to be the rock that you were, but I’m going to make you proud and do my best.”

A tribute to a beloved father

From left: Hudson (left) and Braden (right) Greif played on the Rochester varsity football team together this past fall, and Nina served as team videographer. (Photo provided)

With Michelle’s blessing, friends of the family raised money to install a bench on the campus Scott discovered. The bench is in front of the Goergen Athletic Center, a fitting location given the role that athletics has played in the family’s bond. “Our kids use that building all the time,” Michelle says, “and you hear the bells when sitting there.”

A dedication ceremony was held September 5, 2021, and the entire football team surprised the family by showing up. “It was amazing to see how much they cared enough to show up on a Sunday morning,” Hudson says. “My dad would have loved it.”

Football coach Chad Martinovich says the program cares deeply about the siblings. “They are a special family,” he says. “and they honor their father with the way they live their lives on a daily basis.”

The siblings pass the bench every day. Often, they sit on it and wait for the bells to toll. The tranquil sound gives them peace, as it did their father.

“It makes us feel closer to him, like we have a piece of him every day,” Braden says. “It’s a constant reminder that we’re going to be with him some day. We’re all right.”

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