A special eagle flew to higher ground on February 16, 2020. On a beautiful Sunday morning with the sunlight beaming into room 350, at Fort Walton Beach Hospital, a son sat holding his father’s left hand and the wife clutching the right, watched as the soul of Ernest Green, Jr., reached the end of its earthly journey and peacefully surrendered into the warm and comforting embrace of Almighty God. Ernest Green, Jr, lovingly called “Coach” by all who knew him became a permanent resident of a home not built by human hands. Coach has been reunited with loved ones from long ago and will welcome those to come.
Ernest Green had a heart of gold and was loved and respected by all. He was born on March 7, 1948 in Bartow, Florida to the late Ernest Green, Sr. His mother Everly Green Cook still resides in Bartow, along with stepmother Bernice Green. He was the eldest of six younger siblings. At an early age, Ernest Green accepted Christ and joined Burkett Chapel Primitive Baptist Church. In 2018, he was converted to Catholicism and became a faithful member of St Mary Catholic Church.
Ernest Green received his early education at Union Academy High School, Bartow, Florida. He was a star athlete. While enrolled at Florida A&M University, Ernest majored in Business Administration and Accounting, tried to make the football team and met his future wife. Ernest and Vivian love story endured for 49 wonderful years and produced one child, Ernest “E.G.” Green, III.
Coach Green enlisted into the United States Air Force serving from 1971-1979 as a physical conditioning specialist for pilots during and after the Vietnam Conflict. He also played basketball for the Eglin Eagles while stationed at Eglin. After completing two tours of duty, at Eglin and Balikesir, Turkey, he was honorably discharged in 1979.
and matriculated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sport Science with certifications in the area of math, accounting and business education (1980) and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership with multiple certifications in math, business and physical education (1992).
Immediately following graduation, he was hired at Fort Walton Beach High School in 1980 as a math teacher and assistant basketball coach. He devoted 35 years of his life to Fort Walton Beach High School as an administrator, teacher and coach.
As a teacher, students reminisce about his fairness, friendship and genuine concern for their welfare. He emphasized goal setting and taking responsibility of one own’s decisions and consequences. He influenced the lives of generations of students, parents and grandparents. Numerous students benefitted from his encouragement and optimism. Many kids would not have stayed in school without him. Coach Green could make the saddest and loneliest child feel good about him or herself.
As a coach, athletics played a big part in coach’s life contributing a great deal to his discipline, commitment to excellence and teamwork attitude. Everyone mattered to Coach Green. Everyone felt special with Coach Green. Coach was a man of many “firsts.’ He was the first African American assistant football and basketball coach in the school district. Under his stalwart guidance and leadership, Coach Green became the first African American Head Coach in soccer, tennis, track and baseball in the Okaloosa County School District. One of Coach Green’s greatest achievement occurred in 1991, when he coached defensive backs and receivers to win the Florida State 4A Football Championship.
As an administrator, Coach Green became the first African American Dean of Students in 1994 and the first African American Assistant Principal in Okaloosa County Schools since school segregation. He served as assistant principal for 15 years.
Retiring in 2015, Coach Green left a legacy and impact as a teacher, coach and administrator in Okaloosa County. He was highly involved with community service. One of his most recent honors occurred November,2019, coach was an honoree of the Linda Baptiste Miller Lifetime Achievement Award by the NAACP. Other recognitions included: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Buffalo Soldier Award. This award recognized and applauded ground-breaking and challenging efforts of a minority excelling in Education and Community Service, Omega Man of the Year, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Psi Iota Iota Chapter, and the Educator of the Year Award, Okaloosa County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Coach Green enjoyed many passions in life: a good Snicker candy bar, golf, poker, doing housework, Westerns, telling jokes and a great sense of humor, family visits to Bartow during the holidays, fraternity brothers, attending St. Mary Catholic Church and watching any sporting events. Ernest loved to sing God’s praises and knew no stranger. His love for people was shown everywhere he went. He will truly be missed by many.
He leaves to cherish his memory a loving and devoted wife, Dr. Vivian Green; son, Ernest(Michele) Green, III; three grandsons, Isaac Green, Will Escalante, and Dominick Escalante; mother, Evelyn Green Cook; and step-mother, Bernice (Ernest Green, Sr. (deceased) Green; two sisters, Earnestine G. Davis, Evangelist Jeanette Green; three brothers, Rev. Laroman (Natalie) Green, Hiram (Freida) Green, and Gerald (Stephanie) Green; sisters-in-law, Ruth Moore and Esther Berry; two aunts, Willa (Kenny deceased) Hazelton, Odessa (Caiphas) Floyd; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, friends and associates.
Coach Green was preceded in death by his father, Ernest Green, Sr.; brother, Adrian White; and grandson, Elijah Green.
Services celebrating Ernest’s life will be held on Saturday, March 7 at 1:00 p.m.at Saint Mary Catholic Church, 110 St. Mary Ave SW, Fort Walton Beach, Fl 32548. Interment will be at Beal Memorial Cemetery. A reception following the service will be held at the Saint Mary Life Center.
There will be no public viewing and in lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Ernest’s memory to: Greater Fort Walton Beach S3 Project for Student Homelessness in Okaloosa County, at P.O. Box 783, Fort Walton Beach 32547. A GoFundMe account has been set up to fund at a scholarship at Northwest Florida State College in Ernest’ name, through GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/f/ernie-green-memorial-scholarship?
The family wishes to extend appreciation to the staff and nurses at Fort Walton Beach Hospital, Fresenius Kidney Care, Drs. Reid, Brent, Sites and Brown, Kenny and Athena Belser, Bob Lanier, Chief Chambers, Elderly Services, Inc., Mia Mitchell, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the citizens of Okaloosa County.
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