Family man, teacher and musician, Green lived a notable life

February 04, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes A Life Remembered. This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Robert Russell "Bunny" Green, who died Jan. 30 at the age of 62. His obituary appeared in the Jan. 31 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

CLEAR SPRING - All three of Robert R. Green's daughters said their childhood home always was filled with music, and that was a good thing - with one exception.

"Dad would play reveille on the trumpet to wake me up in the morning, and I didn't like that much," said his daughter, Tonya Green Oberhaus.

Bob died Jan. 30 at the age of 62 after valiantly battling cancer for nearly seven years. For 39 years, until his retirement in 2005, he taught instrumental music in Washington County Public Schools.


The nickname "Bunny" came from two sources, beginning with his mother, who called him that when he was a small child - the younger of two sons of Julia and Harold Green, both of whom reside at Somerford House.

"Then later, his musician friends called him 'Bunny' after Bunny Berigan, a famous musician," said Bob's wife, Judy.

Judy and Bob met in the 1960s at Shepherd College, where Bob was working on a degree in music. He also pursued his musical studies at Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, as well as at Towson and Frostburg universities.

Though teaching music in public schools was his profession, Bob never gave up his zeal for playing in bands and orchestras.

Over the years, he played with several well-known local bands, and also with performers such as Cab Calloway, Della Reese, Tex Ritter, Bobby Helms and Dizzy Gillespie.

For 46 years, Bob maintained his membership in the American Federation of Musicians.

He gave his all, no matter if he was teaching an elementary school student or performing with his own band, Easy Listenin'.

"Dad was my band teacher in elementary school," Tonya said. "He always knew when I hadn't practiced."

Michelle Green Kalendek, Bob's oldest daughter, remembers watching "Lost in Space" on television with her father.

"He loved science fiction," she said.

Michelle also recalls her father pulling her and her flute into her elementary school band even though she only was in the fourth grade.

"It was great, but a little frightening," she said. "They were all older, but dad knew I could play."

When needed, Bob would set music aside and work with his daughters on their homework, Michelle said.

"He liked to be quiet and by himself, but he was always there for us and willing to help out," she said.

Nicole Green Ritchey, the youngest daughter, said she remembers her father's dance band practicing in the basement.

"I'd fall asleep to big band music at night," she said.

Accomplished at piano, flute and piccolo, Nicole now teaches music and leads the Praise Band at Benevola United Methodist Church near Boonsboro.

Bob's influence spread far beyond his love of music.

"He was more like a brother than a brother-in-law to me," said the Rev. Gary R. Isner, Judy's brother. "He had an ease about him."

The Green family's vacations often were spent visiting with Gary and his family in Florida, according to Bob's daughters.

Tonya's 13-year-old son, Luke Wyatt, called Bob granddaddy.

"He taught me to play the guitar and the trumpet," he said.

Bob's only brother, Ronald Green, was three years older. He described his brother as sort of a tagalong when they were boys.

"We grew up in Funkstown," said Ronald, a retired engineer. "Bob was into music from his earliest years - our mother was very musical, so we had to."

Ronald learned piano, but never took it up seriously. Bob was another story.

"Bob had an ear for music and could play and compose music," Ronald said. "He lived his life doing what he loved."

Beyond the music, Bob loved his family and always put them first, by all reports. One example of that came to Judy's mind as she greeted friends a few days after Bob's death.

Through all the years of teaching children in Washington County, Bob never ate school lunches at the schools where he was working.

"I packed him lunches for 39 years - that's a lot of lunches," Judy said pensively. "I guess he liked my cooking."

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