Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The heart that keeps beating: York County’s Frank Green

Frank Green. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Frank Green)

YORK COUNTY — If you’ve grown up in York County, then you might know the name Frank Green.

He’s an associate member of the York County Historical Committee, a member of the York County Historical Society, and spent many years working with the York County Historical Museum located at York Hall, 301 Main Street. He is a local historian, avid genealogist, and is very passionate about his community.

He is so passionate that he even took a bullet while serving as a deputy for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.

His Early Life

Green was born in Florida during his father’s tour of active duty service in the U.S. Air Force (his father also served in a reserve unit for the U.S. Marine Corps). While his mother was originally from West Virginia, his father’s family has roots that reach far back into York County’s history.

After moving from Florida to York County when he was just a baby, Green had a storied childhood in south county. As a young lad, he joined the Navy as a medic. He served “green side” with the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and garnered the nickname “Doc.” While the Navy took him as far away as Japan, he dreamed of returning to York County. After four years of service, he left the Navy in 1982 and joined what is now known as York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office (YPSO).

“We just knew we were the Sheriff’s Office in Poquoson,” Green said. During the 1990s, Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs adapted the name of the office to the moniker that it is known as today.

During Green’s time with the sheriff’s office, he was assigned to patrol Bruton in north county.

“It’s hard to learn law enforcement when you know everyone or you’re related to everyone,” Green said.

He reminisced over how quiet some work days were and the different things that he experienced while working night shifts.

One Fateful Night

On July 10, 1988, fate intervened when Green swapped his normal beat with another officer. That night, Green was patrolling the Grafton area in south county when his radio went off, reporting that there was a shooting at a nearby house. The dispatcher relayed that a woman shot her daughter’s boyfriend nine times. Green raced in his patrol car to the scene.

As he approached the house’s front door, the woman in question spotted him and shot at Green with the last round she had in her gun. The bullet hit Green right in his heart.

“It felt like hot wax was pouring out of my chest,” he said.

After realizing that he was hit, Green crawled behind his patrol cruiser to assess his wound and call for help. After first responders arrived to the scene, he was rushed to Riverside Regional Hospital in Newport News.

“I remember asking the surgeon before the operation, ‘Am I going to be alright?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Afraid of causing more trauma to Green’s heart, the surgeons decided not to remove the bullet. With it still lodged deep in his chest, Green returned to work a few months later in order to continue to serve the county that he loved. However, he was shifted to desk duty, shuffling paperwork.

To this day, the bullet remains lodged in his heart.

“My doctor used to show the X-ray to interns to see their reaction,” Green quipped.

In 2005, Green developed heart failure and was retired on disability the following year. After 17 years of service, Green finished his career as a sergeant.

A Continued Devotion to Community and History

Green’s devotion to community did not end with his retirement from YPSO. Since 2000, he has worked part-time at Weymouth Funeral Home as a licensed cremator. In this position, Frank’s kind and soft spoken nature has been helping families while putting their loved ones to rest.

When he isn’t working, Green can usually be found doing historical research at the Newport News libraries or volunteering in the museum at York Hall. He was also a regular contributor to the now defunct newspaper, Yorktown Crier-Poquoson Post, where he shared his endless wealth of information on local history. Green is a local expert on the Hurricane of ’33, having written plaques and given history lectures on the topic. He also finds himself drawn to the local history ofw World War II.

A Love for Genealogy

Above all, Green loves genealogy.

This is a hobby that has fascinated him since he was young. He attributes Thelma Hansford, a Poquoson resident and retired teacher, for helping him learn the genealogy ropes.

“To use my favorite quote from Harry Truman, ‘The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know,’” Green said.

He has made many personal discoveries on his journey researching genealogy. Green found out that many of his mother’s ancestors were German pioneers who settled in West Virginia around the time of Daniel Boone.

“When people get into genealogy, they’re hoping to find royalty and nobility. I hope I don’t… I don’t want to see that. It’s not interesting to me,” Green said. However, he did find a connection to just such by way of paternal great grandmother, Diana Hopkins.

The most surprising discovery he made was finding out that his family tree was much bigger than he ever realized. Green found that he had relatives not only in York County, but also in neighboring Poquoson.

“Turns out, I’m related to half of Poquoson,” he said.

Despite being born in Florida, Green is a southern Virginian through and through. He classifies himself as an amateur historian, but anyone who holds a conversation with him for just five minutes will learn that he can run with the professionals.

“I just love the county, and it’s a part of me,” Green said.


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