Col. Donald J. Green USAF, Ret., PhD, J.D. Aug. 16, 1916 - May 21, 2012 Former Resident of Hayward Col. Don Green, 95, passed away peacefully on May 21, 2012, at Riverside Regional Medical Center following a stroke. He was born on August 16, 1916, in Missoula, Montana to James Green and Elizabeth Green. He attended Creighton Preparatory Academy in Omaha, Nebraska. Thereafter, Don enrolled in Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. In 1940, Don left college to attend flight school. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. During World War II he became an ace fighter pilot, flying combat missions in both the European and Pacific theaters. He was the squadron commander of his P-38 flying unit. By age 26, Don had flown countless combat missions. He was shot down twice during air battles in the Pacific theater. During the war he attained the rank of Major and earned numerous combat awards including the Silver Star with One Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Clusters, the Polish Combat Medal and the Purple Heart. After the war, Don returned to Washburn to finish his degree. There he met and married the love of his life, Mary Campbell Green. In 1960, while still serving in the Air Force, Don received his MBA from Ohio State University. In 1963, after 24 years of military service and achieving the rank of Colonel, Don retired from the Air Force. He moved with his family to the San Francisco Bay area. He embarked upon his next career as a professor and lecturer at Chabot Community College, in Hayward, where he eventually became the Dean of the Business Department. He also served as a professor in business with the California State University system. Don retired from teaching in 1980, and moved with his wife Mary to Truckee, California. However, even in retirement, Don continued his quest for knowledge. In 1986, at age 70 he obtained his PhD in Business Administration. At age 92, in 2008 he received a law degree. While at his home at Air Force Village West, Don continued to read about, take courses and teach on subjects ranging from economics, computer science, photography and the Catholic religion. Don was an exceptionally gifted athlete. At Creighton he played on the varsity football, basketball and baseball teams, and was the Nebraska State Tennis Champion. At Washburn, he was a member of the football and tennis teams. In 1988 Don won the National Golden Masters Racquetball Championships at age 72. He learned to snow ski at age 60 and continued to ski 30 to 40 days a year until age 89. Don was an outstanding golfer. At Air Force Village West he played three times a week with his dear friend Lt. General Harry Goldsworthy at the General Old Golf Course. He played a final round only two days before his passing. Don treasured his Irish roots and his close family relations in Counties Limerick and Dublin, Ireland. He visited Ireland several times. On his last visit at age 90, he received a commendation for his bravery during World War II from the Limerick County Council at a ceremony held in his honor. Don was also a member of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick. He enjoyed marching in the San Diego St. Patrick's Day Parade with his son, Danny and grandson, Patrick. It was Don's wish that part of his ashes be scattered at the old Celtic cross atop Galteemor, the highest peak in the Galtee Mountains in County Limerick. By far, Don's favorite songs were "Galway Bay", "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". He loved his Guinness and Jameson Irish Whisky. Don was also a true animal lover. There was always a dog or two in the home, and usually a dog on his lap. Don is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Mary, his children Danny Green (Jana), Patty Green Goodman (Larry) of Castro Valley, CA. and Peggy Green Wilson (Don) of Carson City, NV, his step-daughter, Linda Morgan of Lawrence, KS., and his grandchildren, Capt. Patrick Green, USMC (Stephanie), Katie Green Goodman of Castro Valley and Jothan and Page Frakes (Ann Marie) of Niles, CA. Don loved his family dearly. A Catholic Mass was held in Don's honor May 25, 2012 at the new Chapel at Air Force Village West, in Riverside. On May 26, 2012 his ashes were interred with full military honors by the Blue Eagles Honor Guard at the Riverside National Cemetery. The family will have a happy, rollicking, music filled Irish wake and Hooley celebrating Don's life upon the return of his grandson Patrick from his current military tour in the Middle East.
Published in Inside Bay Area from Jun. 8 to Jun. 10, 2012.