Ernie Green, a longtime administrator and coach with Fort Walton Beach High School, has passed away. Green died over the weekend, according to a Facebook post from the high school.
It’s been nearly five years since Coach Ernie Green turned off his office light for the last time and locked the door.
PHOTOS: Remembering Ernie Green
But he will always be a part of Fort Walton Beach High School, where he spent more than 30 years as a teacher, coach and administrator.
Green, who died last weekend at the age of 71, left his mark on the thousands of students he counseled and taught, as well as his coworkers, who adored him.
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"He was someone who made you believe in yourself no matter what the situation was," said Principal John Spolski, who worked with Green during the last years before he retired. "He was firm, but always full of compassion.
"He provided you with hope and positive energy," he added. "He just had that power."
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Green, husband of longtime local educator, Vivian, and father to former NFL player, E.G., started as a math teacher at FWBHS in 1980.
In 1994, he became dean of students and shortly after that was promoted to the role of assistant principal.
Teachers like Athena Belser, who became a close personal friend to Green, said that in staff meetings, he was always even-keeled.
"You always knew exactly where you stood with him," she said. "He had a routine and this was the way it as going to be. You knew exactly what you were going to get."
As assistant principal, a large part of Green’s job involved student disciplinary matters. Belser said that she only heard him raise his voice to a student once, and that was for less than 30 seconds.
Spolski said he had a gift for calling students into his office, letting them know where they had gone wrong and then giving them a chance to move in the right direction in the future.
"He always gave them graceful exits," he said. "That’s where the hope came in. When you saw him work, you were in awe."
Green retired in 2015 and struggled with some health issues in the intervening years.
But he was a "fitness fanatic," who loved to play golf. He also helped coach football, track and tennis during his years at the school.
"He was good at going to kids’ games and talking with them, whether it was a win or loss, the next day," Spolski said.
As news of his death has spread, Spolksi said school personnel are focusing on supporting each other and Green’s family.
A memorial is scheduled for March 7 at 1 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, with interment at Beal Memorial Cemetery.