Murder-Suicide in Rochester New York

Bernice Dubin at home. Rochester, NY. 1977. Photo: Tony Ward

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2021


Murder-Suicide  in Rochester New York


September 11th, 2021 started off like any other solemn 9/11 day as Americans remembered the loved ones lost at the twin towers in New York. I saw some of the coverage on the news and then took a drive down the shore for the afternoon as it appeared to be a perfect day to reflect about an upcoming exhibition and relax on the beach.

I arrived in Margate and set up shop where I always do, in front of Lucy the landmark elephant and Ventura’s Greenhouse restaurant.  I bought a take out lunch and a beer from Ventura’s and headed to the beach.  As I was settling  into my chair, I noticed an email had come in from a college friend, Pat Breslin. It contained a forwarded message from another college friend, Jim Gerhard that linked me to a newspaper article about the murder-suicide of dear friends, Roy Greer and Bernice Dubin. Suffice it to say I was stunned, shocked, saddened, angry and horrified in an instant by what I had read. My day on the beach suddenly turned to dread. Why would Roy do this?

On the morning of the 11th, Roy got out of bed to head over to visit his lifelong lover who I had met when Roy and I were graduate students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the late nineteen seventies.  Apparently, Bernice had been suffering for some time with Alzheimer’s disease and had recently fallen and hurt her hip. The injury required that she stay in a nursing home for a while. Roy complained to several friends that he didn’t like the way she was being treated, a common complaint by those that have had loved ones in nursing homes for a protracted period of time. However, in this depressing scenario Roy brought along a gun with him to put an end to Bernice’s suffering.  Once he got into her room on this fateful and historic day of remembrance he  proceeded to shoot and kill Bernice in her hospital bed before turning the gun on himself. 


Roy with handgun. Photo courtesy of Jay Pastelak. Copyright 2007.


In the aftermath there were forgiving words said about Roy on social media; that he was put it in an impossible situation in seeing the love of his life deteriorate before his eyes while he himself had just turned 80. A sense of helplessness was cast upon him which may have caused him to act compulsively which he was sometimes known to do. This was a tragic ending to lives that were well lived. I suppose this was a statement from Roy to remember them on 9/11.


Roy and Bernice. Rochester, NY. 1983. Photo courtesy of Jim Gerhard, copyright 2021.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to my college friends, Jim Gerhard and Jay Pastelak  for sending in the remarkable photos.

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