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‘You try to give back’

John Green and Catherine Cogswell accepted the Excellence in Business Award, on behalf of J.F. Green’s Funeral Services Limited in Port Hawkesbury, from Strait Area Chamber of Commerce president Diana Martell (right) during the not-for-profit business development organization’s fall awards dinner Nov. 20. Green passed away suddenly less than one week later. He was only 41. CONTRIBUTED
John Green and Catherine Cogswell accepted the Excellence in Business Award, on behalf of J.F. Green’s Funeral Services Limited in Port Hawkesbury, from Strait Area Chamber of Commerce president Diana Martell (right) during the not-for-profit business development organization’s fall awards dinner Nov. 20. Green passed away suddenly less than one week later. He was only 41. CONTRIBUTED - Corey LeBlanc

Strait area mourns loss of business, community champion

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. —

The Strait area continues to mourn the loss of a highly-respected businessman and community champion.    

John Green, owner of J.F. Green’s Funeral Services Limited in Port Hawkesbury, died suddenly Nov. 25.    

He was only 41.    

“John had a big personality, which really reflected what was in his heart,” Bob MacEachern said.    

He remembered how his friend lit up any room – either one he entered or already occupied – with his love for people and enviable ability “to easily start up a conversation.”    

“It is devastating – it has left a huge hole in our region,” MacEachern said.    

John MacIsaac said his friend possessed a “keen interest” in people.    

“We raised a few [beers] over the years,” the owner of MacIsaac Funeral Home in Antigonish said, with a laugh.    

He noted there are so many memories of times shared – both personally and professionally – but the first thing that came to mind, when he learned of Green’s death, were his much-loved convention performances.    

“They were hilarious,” MacIsaac said of Green, who teamed with the late Phil Ells Jr. of Grand Manan to sing songs and tell jokes.    

He also remembered Green for his “incredible memory,” one reflected in an ability to repeat lines from slogans and songs.    

“John just loved people so much and he wanted to spend time with them,” MacIsaac added.    

Patrick Curry of C.L. Curry Funeral Home in Antigonish said Green “loved to laugh and make others laugh.”    

“I am going to miss him – John was such a fun man to be around,” he added.

‘Passion and caring’    

When it came to his career path, unlike many people, Green knew at a young age what he wanted to do.    

Susan Fox remembered Green – as a teenager – talking about his dream of becoming a funeral director, while volunteering – another one of his passions – at the Port Hastings Volunteer Fire Department.    

Green launched his career in 1996, while completing a high school internship program, spending time at a Port Hawkesbury funeral home that he would purchase in 1999.    

“I remained active there throughout my post-secondary studies. I began a computer information systems degree at St. F.X. that I never finished and I stayed in funeral service,” he said in a  2017 interview regarding an extensive renovation at the funeral home.    

As he grew his business over the next couple decades, Green also gave back to his profession including time serving several organizations, such as Funeral Service Association of Nova Scotia and Funeral Service Association of Canada.    

“John was so dedicated and he leaves a lasting mark,” Curry said.    

Noting how Green started his career “at such a young age,” Curry praised him for “showing a lot of courage.”    

He also credited Green for “furthering and maintaining the integrity” of the funeral profession.    

“John was such an important source of knowledge and a dedicated voice,” Curry said.    

MacIsaac described Green as a “champion” for the industry.    

“John had such a tremendous work ethic,” he said, noting his “incredible passion and caring.”    

Chief Jim Cavanagh of the Port Hastings Volunteer Fire Department, who has known about his volunteer contributions for years, recently experienced Green’s dedication on the professional level.    

“I can’t put it into words,” he said of how he perfectly reflected his “compassionate care” business motto during the recent passing of his mother, Shirley Ann.    

Cavanagh added “John went above and beyond.”    

“John made things a little bit easier at such a difficult time; he was second to none,” he said. 

Giving back    

Cavanagh also reflected on Green’s tireless effort for their local volunteer fire department.    

“John touched a lot of people – he was fantastic,” he said.    

Describing Green as “the backbone,” when it came to fundraising and finances, Cavanagh said his loss leaves a “big hole to fill.”    

And, of course, Green was a mainstay every Thursday evening for the weekly bingo game at the fire hall.    

When he made those predictions about his career path more than two decades ago, Fox noted it was while helping out at bingo.    

“And, the day he passed, John was the key person running it,” she said.    

Fox added, with a smile, she could envision Green and the late Ian MacKinnon – the long-time chief of their department – “arguing about what way the next bingo should run.”     

“At first, Ian would not expect him to be there, but the second John came in the door Ian would be getting him to help organize the next game,” she said.    

In that same conversation a couple years ago, Green reflected on the significance of giving back, “regardless of the business you are in.”    

“You try to give back to all the communities that you serve, so it is very important that I participate in sponsoring community festivals and organizations – anything I am asked to participate in,” he said.    

“It is a great feeling when I am able to give back to those communities that call upon me professionally.”    

The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce (SACOC) was another organization that occupied a special place in his heart.    

“John saw the importance of networking and working together – not only to better the business, but also the broader community,” SACOC executive director Amanda Mombourquette said.    

She reflected on the time she spent with Green in recent weeks while filming a video for SACOC’s fall awards dinner, one at which Green and his business received the prestigious Excellence in Business Award.    

Mombourquette remembered him telling her that his chamber membership was one of the first he acquired after opening his funeral home.    

“It meant a lot to him, so it was so great that we were able to celebrate him with that honour,” she said.    

Mombourquette said his leadership and commitment to the chamber “will be greatly missed.”    

“It is a terrible blow for the entire region,” she added.    

Green also put his hat into the electoral ring on several occasions. He ran for the Progressive Conservatives in the Richmond constituency in 2006 and 2009.    

In 2012, he vied for a council seat in the Town of Port Hawkesbury.    

“He loved politics,” MacIsaac said.

‘An amazing guy’    

Memories have been a source of comfort for those who knew and loved Green, as the suddenness of his death continues to leave countless people reeling.    

“He is gone too, too soon,” MacEachern said, while describing his generosity and commitment to community as “legendary.”    

Describing Green as “an amazing guy,” MacIsaac said “I am really going to miss him – both professionally and personally.”    

Fox said his passing will leave a “huge gap” in so many ways.    

“John did a lot of work behind the scenes in the community – at the fire hall and with his business – that none of us even realized, until now,” she added.

Visitation for Green will take place Saturday, from 7-9 p.m. and Sunday, from 2-9 p.m., at Green’s Funeral Home, 507 Bernard Street, Port Hawkesbury.

Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Monday, at 10 a.m., at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.

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