John A. Green Sr., retired Baltimore schools facilities director who worked on anti-poverty initiatives, dies

John A. Green Sr. was a Baltimore City Public Schools educator and worked on the former Model Cities program, which helped connect neighborhoods to city services.
John A. Green Sr. was a Baltimore City Public Schools educator and worked on the former Model Cities program, which helped connect neighborhoods to city services. (Family photo / HANDOUT)

John Albert Green Sr., a retired Baltimore City Public Schools director of facilities who was active in the Prince Hall Masons, died of kidney disease July 3 at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Pikesville resident was 92.

“John was an outstanding public servant,” said former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. “I worked closely with him to help address problems regarding housing. I would also see him and his wife in church at Bethel AME. John was very much involved with improving the quality of life for people in the community.”


Born in Baltimore, Mr. Green was the son of Roy Green, a chauffeur and real estate salesman, and Constance Payne, a Baltimore City schools teacher and department head at Calverton Junior High School.

As a child, he moved with his family to Hoes Heights, an African-American neighborhood near Roland Park. He attended Enon Baptist Church.


“Because of segregation, John could not attend the neighborhood schools and attended Booker T. Washington Junior High School and Frederick Douglass High School,” said Michell L. Morton, his wife’s niece who prepared the family obituary.

He earned a Bachelor of Science at Morgan State University and later earned a master’s degree in public administration, also at Morgan.

Mr. Green also continued his graduate studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.

While a college undergraduate, John married the former Barbara “Babs” Baden. They later divorced.


In 1952, he joined the Army as a lieutenant and served during the Korean War.

“Even as an officer in the Army, he faced prejudice and discrimination. He would often recall the tenuous situation he endured while serving his country,” said Ms. Morton.

After leaving the military, Mr. Green became a physical education teacher for the Baltimore City Public Schools system.

“He was then one of the few African-American teachers to integrate white public schools in South Baltimore,” Ms. Morton said.

He later married Mary Green, and they had two sons.

Mr. Green later left the school system to join the old Model Cities Program and later the Urban Service Agency, which were created as a result of the federal “war on poverty” legislation in the 1960s. He worked to bring city services into communities through neighborhood centers.

U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume said: “I met John 50 years ago in 1971. He hired me to be part of the Teen Center Project of Model Cities. My thoughts as a 22-year-old were that John was dashing, debonair, dedicated to his work and loyal to his friends.”

“He had an impeccable demeanor and a flair for fashion,” the congressman said. “And while he never sought attention, he was a godfather to the Baltimore Model Cities and nothing happened without his blessing.”

Former state Sen. Joan Carter Conway also worked with Mr. Green at Model Cities.

“John was personable and a kind man,” she said.

Mr. Green later rejoined Baltimore City Public Schools and was director of facilities.

Mr. Green retired from the school system in June 1994.

In 1985, he married Grenda Louise Green.

“We had a wonderful life. He loved his family,” his wife said. “My husband was a giving person who was a supporter of women in business and management.”

He and his wife traveled the world.

“They supported each other through good and difficult times, and were each other’s rocks,” said Ms. Morton, his wife’s niece. “They gave permission for each person to be entirely themselves and equal partners in life.”

In 1978, Mr. Green became a member of Bethel AME Church.

He served on the usher board and the board of trustees. He was also a trustee emeritus.

“As an elder of the church, John knew of the difficulties that some senior members experienced in having reliable transportation to attend service,” said Ms. Morton. “John wanted the church to have a bus for its senior members, so he chaired a committee to raise money to purchase a vehicle. As a result of his leadership and fundraising, the church purchased a bus in 2019.”

She added: “John Albert was a class act — a polished and accomplished man. He was known for his impeccable style, storytelling, leadership, and loyalty to his friends and loved ones.”

He was a member of the Baltimore Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He belonged to the Prince Hall Masons and Committee X-71.

Survivors include his wife, a retired Baltimore City Finance Department bureau chief and project manager; two sons, Lance Green and John Green, both of Baltimore; a stepson, Darric Boyd of Ellicott City; a niece, Jodi Thomas of Baltimore, whom he considered a daughter; and three grandchildren.

A funeral will be held July 15 at 11 a.m. at the March Life Tribute Center, 5616 Old Court Road in Windsor Mill.

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