William Hawkins Green was born in Lewisburg, N. C., Dec. 20, 1871; and died in Detroit, Mich., Oct. 31, 1928. His early life was spent near his home in North Carolina, where he received such education as the schools of that locality afforded, which was later supplemented by a course of study at Shaw University in Raleigh, N. C. From there he was graduated in law and theology. In his young life he was a faithful attendant of the Baptist and Presbyterian Sunday schools, and for a time was interested in politics. His prospects in this line, gained by his honesty and sterling character, bade fair to place him in some prominent position. He practiced law in Charlotte and Elizabeth City, N. C., and in Washington, D. C. His work brought him in contact with many of the prominent men of our country, and his experience in public matters especially fitted him for the work which he later espoused.
He accepted the faith of the third angel’s message about the year 1901, and after further study and preparation, laid aside the practice of law, and became actively engaged in the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
In 1909 Elder Green was united in marriage with Miss Jessie C. Dorsey, a teacher and one of the founders of the Voorhees Industrial School at Denmark, S. C. Mrs. Green was in complete sympathy with her husband in his work, having been an Adventist herself for many years, and knowing the work that is required of those who would hasten Christ’s kingdom on this earth. Two daughters, Mildred, and Inez, were the children who came to bless this union, and to their physical comforts and Christian training Elder Green gave the careful, prayerful attention which marked all his endeavors.
Elder Green engaged in local church work during the years from 1905 to 1918. His first charge was in Pittsburgh, Pa., from 1905 to 1909. Then he connected with the work in Atlanta, Ga., where he remained only a few months, and from there was transferred to Washington, D. C., where he acted as pastor of the Second Seventh-day Adventist Church, which later adopted the name of Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1912 he went to Detroit to shepherd the little body of colored believers, who have grown in number, built their own church, and are now known as the Hartford Avenue Seventh-day Adventist church. This charge he held until he was called to the secretaryship of the North American Negro Department, which work he faithfully performed until he was taken from us. He was called to this department at the General Conference held in San Francisco in 1918. These ten years he has traveled constantly from the Lakes to the Gulf and from coast to coast, always bearing a message of hope and encouragement and admonition to the conferences, churches, and homes that he visited.
After attending the Fall Council at Springfield, Mass., Elder Green paid his last visit to his home church, Hartford Avenue, Detroit, October 6, and preached a very touching sermon and assisted in the ordinances of the Lord’s house. He remained home until the twelfth of the month, attending to official affairs and making a visit to Holly, Mich., to see his two daughters, who are students in the Adelphian Academy at that place. He left home the night of the twelfth to serve the church in Omaha, Nebr., the next Sabbath. After leaving Omaha, he visited Kansas City, Mo.; Wichita, Kans.; Oklahoma City, Okla., Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston, Texas, from which place he journeyed to the Florida camp meeting, stopping a few hours in New Orleans, La. The night of the twenty seventh of October he started from Orlando, Fla., for his home in Detroit, intending to leave early enough to meet his appointment in Milwaukee, Wis., November 3.
On his way to Detroit he traveled in a roundabout way, using his railroad passes to save the amount of fares to the cause he so much loved. Having missed his train in Atlanta, Ga., he was forced to spend most of the day Monday in that city, arriving in Detroit about 10 p. m. Tuesday. He was suffering with a severe cold and retired shortly expressing in weary tones the desire to rest and sleep until morning, because he had not been in bed for four nights. He soon seemed to be sleeping quite naturally. His wife was awaked about two o’clock by a peculiar noise he was making, and thinking he was troubled with dreams, tried to arouse him, but soon realized that he was beyond human help. No word was spoken by him, neither did he show any signs of consciousness. He passed quietly into eternity with his work on earth done.
Funeral services were held in the Hartford Avenue church on Sabbath, November 3. Elder W. A. Spicer delivered a very impressive and instructive sermon. Elder J. K. Humphrey, of the Harlem church of New York, was present, also Elder U. S. Willis, of Brooklyn; Elder J. M. Campbell, of Newark, N. J.; Elder A. N. Durrant, of Ohio; and Elder G. E. Peters and Brother Joseph, of Chicago; as well as Elders Piper, Burke, and Neumann, and Brethren Mickle, Clark, and R. M. Harrison. A very large and sympathetic audience was present, extending heartfelt sympathy to Sister Green and the daughters in their great sorrow.
As we looked upon the peaceful countenance of our dear brother, we could truly say,—
Life's work well done,
Life's race well run,
Life's crown well won,
Now comes rest.
-G. E. Peters, J. K. Humphrey, and A. E. Webb, Adventist Review, December 27, 1928, pg. 22