George I. Green, F.D. - Past President (1915-2011)
Mr. Green was the founder and former President of George Irvin Green Funeral Home, Inc. He was a graduate of Homestead High School and the Cincinnati College of Embalming. He was a Navy veteran of World War II. In the community, he was a member of the Munhall Volunteer Fire Co. #4 (past Treasurer); member of the Homestead Park United Methodist Church; the Masonic Lodges; past President of Steel Valley Caravan #24, Park View Towers Board and Homestead Elks. He was also past Trustee of the Allegheny County Funeral Directors Association. George lived in Munhall with his wife, Helen, and two children, Donald I. of Munhall and Nancy Green Beresford of Colorado, and five grandchildren.
Pictured, George Green stands next to the portrait of William Smith, who served as a funeral director with the Green Funeral Home for four decades until his death in June, 1980. Bill served with the U.S. Army during World War II and attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science . While he was with the Green Funeral Home he was very active in the community and served as an usher at St. Therese Church.
George Irvin Green was sure early on in life that he wanted to be a funeral director and he was eager to get started. His principal at Homestead High School had to convince him to hang around because a high school degree would be required before he could study mortuary science.
Mr. Green's instincts were good.
The funeral home he founded in 1941 remains in family hands today and, despite officially retiring around 1980, he continued to help until March.
"He loved meeting people and talking to people," said Donald I. Green of Munhall, who now leads the business his father founded.
Mr. Green, 96, died Tuesday when his heart gave out. Until this spring, he lived at home but his increased need for help spurred a move into the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Squirrel Hill. His wife of more than 65 years, Helen Gaut Green, died in 2010.
Mr. Green's early years were spent in Denver, where the climate was considered better for his father's asthma. But the family moved back to West Homestead when he was young, and he graduated from Homestead High School in 1934.
Mr. Green's father was a barber who convinced the son that getting a barber's license would prove useful. Mr. Green helped in his father's business and did some barbering while attending the Cincinnati College of Embalming. He earned his license there in 1937, but it took a few more years to open his funeral home.
"You have to go through an apprenticeship," said his daughter, Nancy Beresford of Dillon, Colo. That wasn't easy in the Depression era, and he ended up working for no pay to get the needed experience. He also put in time at U.S. Steel's Homestead Works.
He chose the Munhall site for his new funeral home, according to his son, to be near housing going up in the area. The business still operates from that location, although three major additions to the building were done over the years, and the funeral home has purchased nearby properties.
His first funeral, as written up in an autobiography that Mr. Green typed for his family, was done for a family living on public assistance. "They were turned down by all the funeral homes in the Homestead area," said Donald Green. The new funeral director did the service and burial for $100.
Two years after the George Irvin Green Funeral Home opened in 1941, he enlisted in the Navy as a pharmacist mate. He served for two years, relying on family to keep the business operating.
In 1944, he was home long enough to marry Helen, who worked for U.S. Steel.
The funeral home business, and their family, grew to the point that Mr. Green eventually sent his wife to mortuary science school. He figured that would allow her to keep the business going if anything happened to him, his children said. Helen Green earned her funeral director license in 1959, a rare woman in the field at the time.
His children remember helping out in other ways, from carrying in flowers to sweeping carpets and directing parking. In addition to his son becoming a funeral director, Mr. Green's grandson, Scott, is now in the business as well.
In addition to his work, Mr. Green was a member of the Munhall Volunteer Fire Co., the Homestead Park United Methodist Church, HAM Lodge #582 and Duquesne Lodge #731, as well as Scottish Rite Valley of Pittsburgh, Syria Temple and Homestead Elks Lodge 650. He was a past president of Steel Valley Caravan #24 and Park View Towers.
In June 2010, the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association honored Mr. Green as the oldest active licensed funeral director in the state.
In addition to his two children, Mr. Green is survived by five grandchildren and two nieces. He was predeceased by his sister, Rosabell Mehaffey.