GREVE, BELL (4 January 1894-9 January 1957), a pioneer in the development and provision of relief and rehabilitation services to the poor, sick, and disabled, gained international distinction for her work with local, state, and international social service agencies. A native Clevelander, Bell was the daughter of Louis and Margaret (Rummel) Greve. After graduating from Glenville High School, she entered Hiram College planning to become a missionary but became interested in social work after working at HIRAM HOUSE one summer. Greve transferred to Flora Stone Mather College at WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, where she received her degree. She later earned a law degree from Cleveland Law School.
Greve began her social work career in 1918 as a charity visitor in Cleveland's red-light district for the city's Charities Bureau. In 1921, she launched her career in international relief and rehabilitation, spending three years in Europe as the head of a Red Cross child-health center in Hodonin, Czechoslovakia, and as the director of an orphanage of 3,000 children in Alexandropol, Armenia. Upon returning to the United States, Greve joined the administration of Ohio governor, A. Victor Donahey, as superintendent of the division of charities in the Department of Public Welfare, a position she held for five years. In 1929, she became director of the Community Chest in Charleston, West Virginia. Four years later, she assumed the directorship of the Association for the Crippled & Disabled, which became the Cleveland Rehabilitation Center in 1943. During her twenty-year tenure, the agency gained a reputation as one of the nation's foremost rehabilitation institutions: she opened the Curative Playroom for disabled preschool children in 1934 and a work treatment shop to provide light work for disabled adults and to help them gain employment in private industry in 1935. Construction of a new building for the agency in 1938 made it one of the few in the country to offer a variety of specialized rehabilitation services under one roof.
Greve also served as the director of the Cuyahoga County Relief Bureau from 1937 until 1944, taking control of the city infirmary and founding the first county nursing home for the elderly. In 1953, Mayor ANTHONY J. CELEBREZZE placed Greve in charge of the city's Department of Health and Welfare, a position she held until her death. The first woman city cabinet member in 20 years, she won approval for a $2.4 million bond issue to improve Cleveland's correctional facilities, including CLEVELAND BOYS' HOME, the BLOSSOM HILL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, and the CLEVELAND WORKHOUSE. In addition to her local social work and government service, Greve remained active in international relief and rehabilitation agencies. She helped organize the 1936 World Congress for Workers for the Crippled in Budapest, Hungary, and in 1941 she was elected secretary-general of the International Society for the Welfare of Cripples, a position she held for 10 years. During the 1940s, she helped developed rehabilitation programs for the disabled in Mexico and the West Indies and made several trips to Greece to help implement rehabilitation services for the victims of the Second World War. A member of the Collinwood Christian Church for more than 50 years, Greve never married. She was buried in Knollwood Cemetery.