By Julius E. McCullough
Special to the Guide
On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, the Golden Ages Ministry of New Calvary Baptist Church had its quarterly birthday luncheon at its favorite eating establishment, the Golden Corral on Volvo Parkway, Chesapeake. This special luncheon fellowship celebrates birthdays of its very active senior citizen members within a three-month period. The loving members eat merrily, exchange gifts, sing songs and just enjoy being together.
But this June 10th was made so special for it was the actual birthday of the oldest member of the Golden Ages Ministry. It was the 105th birthday of Deacon Emeritus Cleo Green.
Cleo Green, a very stylish and handsomely dressed gentleman, was presented letters from Governor Terry McAuliffe and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, a monetary gift, birthday cards, a huge birthday cake and was serenaded by the Golden Corral waiting staff in their special rendition of Happy Birthday. He was obviously delighted to be asked to dance by several ladies.
Mr. Green was born in Hillsborough, NC and was the twentieth child of twenty-two children born to William Jeffrey Green and Mary White Green.
A very colorful and humorous Mr. Green says his birth name was Cread Green. He didn’t like that name. So after he finished the eighth grade and went to college at Winston-Salem Teacher’s College in Winston-Salem, NC, he changed his name to Cleo.
Deacon Green was married to Georgia Owens Green. After her death, he married Burlie Lawrence, a marriage that didn’t work out.
Deacon Green has led a very interesting and fulfilling life centered on “making a difference.” In Deacon Green’s own words, “I was born June 10, 1910 in Orange County, NC where I attended public schools. At the age of 18, in 1928, I went to New York City where I resided in Harlem. I worked as an elevator operator in the hotels of New York City and later worked as an elevator operator at a bank. I also worked at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. where I made $7 a week.
“After being there a few years, they transferred me to a new department where I started earning men’s wages, $15 per week. I retired from the Bank of America.”
Deacon Green was the owner of a fish market on Church Street many years ago.
He continued, “In 1935, I accepted Jesus Christ. That made a difference in my life. I was baptized in Mount Zion Baptist Church, located at 140th Street and Seventh Avenue under Rev. William Campbell, Pastor.
“In 1938, I was called to teach beginners class. I enrolled in night class at Abyssinia Baptist Church studying the Bible and the ways and means of teaching.
”In 1939, I was moved to teach an intermediate class where I talked about Jesus starting at twelve years of age through thirty-three years as He traveled from one city to the other, making a difference in people’s lives.
“In 1941, Easter Sunday, the lesson subject was ‘Taking On New Life’. For the class demonstration, I carried 35 students to the woods in the Bronx, NY. I used a cocoon to demonstrate the transformation into new life as a butterfly. Looking at trees and the buds bringing forth new life, grass pouting out and flowers bringing forth-new life, I explained that this was portraying Christ taking on an earthly body. Christ was like unto a cocoon that was transformed into a butterfly.
“In 1942, I was called to the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth.
“I joined New Calvary Baptist Church in 1947 and was selected Trustee & Treasurer in 1951. My activities at New Calvary included being instrumental in purchasing the Old Folks Home on Diamond Springs Road and getting a loan from the bank for the church. I helped broke ground for the new church. I also helped organize the first youth choir under organist Corprew. When Elder Samuel Wilson, then Pastor, became disabled and could not drive long distances, I became his driver.”
Deacon Green says he enjoys going to church and especially going to dinner with the senior citizens, The Golden Ages Ministry. When asked what he attributed to his longevity, he replied, “Being obedient to my mother and father and most of all, being obedient to God.”
When asked what we had to look forward to at 100 years of age, he said, “Well, when I was ninety-nine years old, I was doing fine. When I ‘cut’ a hundred, they gave me a big party and every thing started going downhill.”
I asked him how so? He said, “Well, first thing, they took my driver’s license. So, if you do reach 100, you better start looking out.” Yes, Deacon Cleo Green was still driving at 100 years old.
And that’s the wonderful centenarian gentleman of New Calvary Baptist Church.
Mr. Green is lovingly cared for by his nieces, Pam Haskins, Wand Haskins, Dru Haskins and Regail Watson, but still loves to cook. I am told that his cheesecakes are to die for.
Pat Weaver is President of the Golden Ages Ministry and Rev. Dr. William Marcus Small is Pastor, New Calvary Baptist Church.