By 2008, Irving Lee Green Jr. and his wife, Dorothy, had visited 49 of the country’s 50 states with North Dakota looming as the last piece of the puzzle. The problem was that flights from Maryland and Washington, D.C., to North Dakota were too expensive.
However, flights to Minneapolis were much more reasonable. So the couple flew there, drove about seven hours to North Dakota, and stayed in a hotel on a Native American reservation for a few days before agreeing to drive back.
“That was the very last one,” their daughter Deborah Green Glasco said. “They just said, ‘We want to visit all 50 states.’ … They were very adventurous. They would get in the car and practically drive anywhere.”
Mr. Green, an educator who worked for school systems in Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, died June 3 at Somerford Place Columbia due to the coronavirus. He was 91.
Mr. Green was the oldest of three children born to Irving Lee Green Sr. and Queenie Iona Green in Warrenton, North Carolina. The elder Mr. Green, a cobbler and carpenter, and Mrs. Green, also raised Patty Hodges Berry and Charles T. Green.
After graduating from Virginia State University with a bachelor’s degree in education and fine arts, Mr. Green served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955. After his discharge, he moved to Baltimore where he earned a master’s in education administration and supervision from Johns Hopkins.
Mr. Green then began teaching at the middle and high school levels in the city and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties. He taught science, art and industrial arts, and eventually became vice principal at Brooklyn Park High School.
Mr. Green also owned a woodworking business, making paddles for fraternities and sororities and other pieces for customers. One of his hobbies was painting.
“His artwork was all over the house,” Mrs. Glasco said from her home in Columbia. “I have quite a bit of it here, and some of it I had to store because the paintings were so large.”
In his senior year at Virginia State University, Mr. Green met the former Dorothy Fields, who was a sophomore. They married April 7, 1952, in Baltimore and raised two children, Deborah and Kenneth.
In 1960, Mr. Green moved the family from Baltimore to a house in Glen Burnie that he helped design. Mrs. Glasco said her father “spent hours” waxing the hardwood floors, and was especially adept — along with his wife — at landscaping the property around their home and growing corn, radishes and tomatoes in a garden in their backyard.
“He was always excellent at it,” Mrs. Glasco said from her home in Columbia. “We always had shrubbery all around the property, and Daddy was really artsy with that shrubbery. It could be in a box shape or he rounded it. And then my mother was really good with her roses.”
While Mr. Green enjoyed fishing, playing pinochle, gambling on slot machines, and listening to jazz, he was an intrepid traveler with his wife. Mrs. Glasco recalled road trips to Niagara Falls and the World’s Fair in New York and Canada, and she said her mother and seven siblings took turns hosting reunions during Christmas.
“It was like, ‘OK, where are we going this year?’ And we went to North Carolina or we went to Connecticut or we went to Virginia or we went to New Jersey,” she said. “It was just always fun.”
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
While working for NASA as an employee of the external relations department and guiding a group of science fair winners to watch the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on March 22, 1996, Glasco had a rare and sudden opportunity to invite her parents to the launch when they were at Marco Island, which is more than four hours from the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island.
“Somebody didn’t show up for the launch, and the launch was going to be at 3:16 a.m.,” she said, pointing out that Atlantis carried Shannon Lucid, who became the first American woman to live on the Russian space station Mir. “I happened to say, ‘If you come up this way, would you like to go to a launch?’ They said yes, and they made it up. … They were just in awe because it was a night launch and to see the shuttle go off at night., it’s something you cannot just describe. You have to see it.”
Mrs. Glasco said her mother suffered a stroke in 2015 before dying a year later. The tragedy was exacerbated by her father battling Alzheimer’s disease.
“He just kind of lost it,” she said. “He had to be under pretty much 24-7 care. … It was very hard on him, and he never really realized in his mind that she was still alive.”
Mr. Green was buried June 10 at Meadowridge Memorial Park in Elkridge.
In addition to his daughter and son-in-law Larry Glasco, Mr. Green is survived by his son Kenneth Green and daughter-in law Victoria of Baltimore, two grandchildren, two sisters-in-law, and a number of cousins, nieces and nephews.