Mr. Green: An enduring legacy

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Indefatigable. Bright. Humble. Inspiring.

These are a few of the many characteristics that John M. Green, who passed away Saturday at age 92 at his home, embodied and shared with thousands of Boy Scouts and their families, with his real estate clients, with fellow Realtors and with neighbors and friends over a storied life as a Franklinite and Williamson County stalwart.

As the father of an Eagle Scout who benefitted from Mr. Green’s guidance at BSA Troop 137 in “the barn” just off Highway 96, I am one of many who can attest that he was, and will remain, a man of legendary influence.

The great scoutmaster often endearingly referred to himself in the third person: “When I was a boy, one night a state trooper knocked on the door and said Mr. Green had left his bike out in the rain. I never did that again, I’ll tell you.” Another time: “When Mr. Green was a toddler, I wandered off from my mama in a diaper.” After a frantic search, he was found rocking with an elderly neighbor near what is now Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor, happy as a lark.

Mr. Green always greeted scouts and visitors to the barn with his trademark twinkle and warm smile. He was upbeat, positive and encouraging, but also could be blunt, direct and cautionary. He would ask newer boys two questions: “Are you havin’ fun?” and “Is anybody pickin’ on ya?”

Never one to boast, Mr. Green rarely talked about himself except when sharing stories of lessons learned that might instruct the scouts. He downplayed his historic achievements, and they were plentiful.

After returning from World War II in 1944, Mr. Green immersed himself in scouting and began a seven-decade-long journey of enriching young lives. Along the way he founded Troop 137 in 1975 (chartered by Fourth Avenue Church of Christ). He also taught Sunday school and for 12 years led the church’s benevolence ministry, distributing some $5,000 each month to charities.

Mr. Green was a charter member of the Williamson County Association of Realtors® (WCAR) and twice served as its president. In 2002, the National Association of Realtors® awarded him one of its highest honors, the Good Neighbor Award, for his “extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in his community through volunteer work.”

In 2010, he was inducted into the National Boy Scouts of America’s Hall of Fame, a lofty perch indicative of the thousands of young men whose lives he had helped to shape.

Two years later, at a special breakfast celebration, Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson proclaimed Feb. 23, 2012, as John M. Green Day in Williamson County.

I was blessed to get to know Mr. Green nine years ago. One day I walked with him as he led the troop on its annual 5-mile trek through Franklin, during which he planted various challenges for the boys — such as a faux-injured teen stranded on the banks of the Harpeth River under the bridge near Pinkerton Park. I thought I was in shape, but Mr. Green set a brisk pace and remained fresh throughout that late-summer Saturday. 

A few years later, I stopped by the barn to split wood for the fire pit. Mr. Green walked out of his house, gave me a big smile and a greeting, then picked up a hoe and headed out to the field to tend the season’s crops. Long after I wore myself out from chopping, he was still working the soil, ever spry in his late 80s.

I was proud when he awarded my son and several of his friends their Eagle badges. My friend Ken Salstrand, whose son also received his Eagle that day and who still has a son in Troop 137, told me he’s deeply saddened that Mr. Green will not be there to present that final Eagle.

So am I. So are we all. His passing leaves an unfillable void. Yet in a very real way, Mr. Green will be there. We will feel his presence. And we will cherish the memory of his remarkable life and seek to carry on his legacy of leadership, service, humility and passion.

Rest in Peace, dear Scoutmaster.

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