NORFOLK, Va. — A long-time Norfolk politician and public servant has passed away.
Christ and St. Lukes Episcopal Church posted on their website that the Reverend Dr. Joseph N. Green died Friday, surrounded by family. He had served as Canon Theologian at Christ and St. Lukes since 2020.
The Grace Episcopal Church in Norfolk, where Father Green was Rector for 30 years from 1963 to 1993, had earlier also announced his passing on their Facebook page.
After his ordination and before his service at Grace Episcopal, he served congregations in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and as chaplain at St. Augustine’s College.
Among many achievements, Father Green was the first African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the Norfolk City Council where he served for twenty years, ten as Vice Mayor. Before that, he served on the School Board. - and was a transformational civil rights leader and fighter for equal rights.
Father Green is credited with leading the the effort to preserve the Church Street Historic District and the Attucks theatre. His efforts to promote affordable and accessible housing led to new housing opportunities in many sections of the city.
"A tremendous man," said Father Harold Cobb, Green's successor at Grace Episcopal. Cobb said Green became Rector Emeritus for the church in 2005.
Other highlights of his service on city council include the promotion of mass transit, inclusion of a public housing tenant on the Housing Commission, and efforts to establish a downtown campus of Tidewater Community College. In fact, the administration building of Tidewater Community College's campus in Norfolk is named for Green, and the city council also named a street after him.
“In the face of adversity and challenge, he held his head up. He kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept on going," said Cobb. "I think he could teach us all about perseverance."
In 2020, one of his alma maters - Sewanee College at the University of the South in Tennessee - honored Father Green by commissioning a portrait of him which now hangs in their School of Theology. As part of this, they posted a tribute to Father Green on their website which offers much insight into his life.
No funeral arrangements have been announced.