2014 Man of the Year: John D. Greene

by Brianne Fleming, Staff Writer, Morganton News Herald

John D. Greene, 2014 Man of the Year

John D. Greene, 2014 Man of the Year

The Rotary Club of Morganton has announced the winner of its 67th Man of the Year award — John D. Greene — a local family man with deep community roots who has demonstrated the traditional motto “service above self.”

Morganton Rotary President Waits Gordon announced Greene as the 2014 winner at Wednesday’s meeting. Greene and his wife, Jane, were in attendance.

Some may recognize Greene, 78, as the man behind John Greene Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Morganton, which evolved from Bowers Greene Motor Co. Inc. in 1963. But many may know him from his mile-long list of accomplishments and activities in the Morganton community.

Greene and his wife have two children, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren. His son has now taken over the automobile dealin

business. Greene and his wife are both Morganton natives and grew up in the area. He has been a member of First United Methodist Church for 70 years, and has been chairman of the church council, staff parish relations committee and finance committee. He also has served as a trustee, Sunday school superintendent and lay delegate to the annual conference, along with serving on the long range planning and missions committees.

In 2006, Greene was nominated to be North Carolina’s representative for “Time” magazine’s Quality Dealer of the Year Award, which recognizes franchised automobile dealers for exceptional business performance, leadership and community involvement, according to his bio.

He also served 12 years on the Blue Ridge HealthCare Foundation board and nine years on the Blue Ridge HealthCare Long Term Care board. He is Chairman and a member of the History Museum of Burke County’s board of directors and also served on the Morganton City School Board and Burke County Public Schools Board of Education from 1967-1971, along with many others.

Some of Greene’s hobbies include golf, spending time with his grandchildren, great grandchildren and family, along being a sports fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Appalachian State Mountaineers.

When he first heard the news about Man of the Year, his wife told him he looked as if he was going to pass out, Greene said with a laugh.

“I was pretty shocked and surprised,” he said. “Once I recovered from that, I was extremely appreciative and honored.

“This community has supported me my entire life and has been good to my family for four generations.”

As Man of the Year of 2014, Greene said he hopes that his service to the community helps to inspire people to do the same. While serving on boards in the past, he has successfully helped to recruit others as well.

“(For) younger people coming into the community, I would hope it encourages them by example,” he said.

This is an especially great honor because the people of Morganton are the ones who know everything about him, Greene said.

“To be honored like this in your hometown — there is no greater honor,” he said. “People here know me the best.”

It’s humbling to be a part of the group of men who have won this award, Greene said.

“The Rotary Club does a great service to the community by having this as a program,” he said.

John D. Greene, 2014 Distinguished Person of the Year, with fellow Rotarian

When talking about his work in the community, Greene mentioned that having his wife by his side has been an important part.

“Behind every man is a great woman,” he said.

Jane said she also was very surprised at the news, and both overwhelmed and thankful that her husband was chosen as the award recipient.

“A lot of people we have known and loved have received this,” she said. “To be included in that group is very overwhelming.”

Gordon said the Rotary received many wonderful nominations for 2014 — some of the best he has ever seen — and it took longer to decide on a winner. He referred to the award as a “particularly great honor” this year.

“I was thrilled to see him get this honor,” he said of Greene. “We’ve worked together here at the church a lot. Whenever you need something done, John is always there. He’s just a man of all seasons, and he and his family are a pillar in this church.”

Nancy VanNoppen