|MCLA Professor, Community Leader Steve Green Dies
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
10:20AM / Friday, September 15, 2023
|Steve Green and his wife, Susanne Walker, at 2019's Spirit of Caring Awards where they were honored with the Al Nelson Spirit of Caring Award by the Northern Berkshire United Way.
Steve Green with Shirley Davis and then NBCC Executive Director Adam Hinds at the opening of the UNO Neighborhood Center. At left, with Mary Grant in 2009.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Community supporter and longtime educator Stephen Green has died.
Green reportedly died Tuesday from a medical condition.
The news was shared to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts community on Thursday by college President Jamie Birge.
"Dr. Green was, and always will be, a legend who embodied MCLA's mission to promote excellence in learning and teaching, public service, and active and responsible citizenship," Birge wrote. "He taught some 3,500 students and advised hundreds more. He was the epitome of a servant leader. He was known to be one of the first on campus in the morning and the light in his office could be seen burning late into the evening, fondly remembered as akin to a lighthouse beacon bringing everyone safely to shore."
In addition to the thousands of students whose lives he touched, including MCLA's former president Mary Grant, his impact was felt far beyond the college campus as he and his wife, Susan Walker, fully embedded themselves into the community after arriving here in 1973.
"I literally don't have words," said Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's Amber Besaw. "I think the loss for our community as a whole feels almost unfillable for the presence that he had and the impact over time, from his days as a professor at MCLA to all the boards and committees and charity work that he's done. It's just tremendous."
Green worked at the college for 36 years as a professor of sociology and later vice president of academic affairs. He retired in 2009.
He was a member of the executive committee of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and had served as its president. He had co-founded and volunteered at the Al Nelson Friendship Center Pantry, served on boards and committees of the Northern Berkshire United Way (for which he and his wife were campaign co-chairs) and president several times, and volunteered with the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative and All Saints Church.
He was also a member of the city's Community and Economic Advisory Board and the former Downtown Development and was ever present at local community meetings and events. His NBCC board colleague Benjamin Lamb described him as "a force of nature."
"There's almost too much to be said about Steve," Lamb said. "So many of us in the community looked at him as a role model and you think about the number of people in this community that he trained and educated that are now reverberating his impact and will continue to for another generation.
"But to not have him is a huge punch in the gut. ... We were lucky to have him."
Thomas Bernard, former mayor and current director of the Berkshire United Way, had also worked with Green at MCLA and knew him as a friend's father growing up.
"I'm heartbroken for the family, who are close friends, but for the community because Steve was such a fixture and kind and thoughtful and gentle and really, really believed in the community because he believed in people," Bernard said. "He did it with quiet humility and it wasn't even humility, because it was just, he just did it. He didn't do it for credit because his value set was that we give what we have, especially of our talent and our heart."
Green had received a lengthy list of awards, including New England Sociologist of the Year by the New England Sociological Association in 2006 and MCLA's Athletics Service Award in 2009 for his continued support of the program. This was later renamed the Dr. Steve Green Athletic Service Award and the retired professor also oversaw the Steve Green Community Engagement Fund for students doing service-based learning. Grant had presented him with the President's Medal at the 2009 commencement.
He and Walker were also recognized for their many years of leadership and volunteerism within the community.
Green was presented the Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award in 2006 and the Francis H. Hayden Award by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce in 2007 for his contributions to the community. He was United Way's Volunteer of the Year and he and Walker were honored with its Al Nelson Spirit of Caring Award in 2019.
That evening, Green expressed his feelings by reading the last paragraph of the speech he'd given at the 1994 NBUW annual meeting.
"The work that you do, the ideals that you stand for, the concern which you and others share, are a testimony to your commitment to being a piece of the safety net," he read in part. "You care. You care a great deal. You are all owed far more gratitude than you receive. But you're not doing what you're doing for that type of reward. You do it because you know that what you do can make a difference. Making that difference is essential to your health and that of your neighbors."
His colleagues said Green's kindness was what always stood out to them. Besaw said, for her personally, it was the loss of mentor as well as a very dear friend. He was the first phone call after a meeting, she said, and would always tell to keep going, that it would be fine.
"I think most of all, I'm gonna miss the 'be well, my friend,' which is how he ended every conversation that we had."