My Brother, John Patrick Green

My fraternity brother, Jack Green,

My fraternity brother, Jack Green,

This is a tribute to my fraternity brother, John Patrick Green (we called him Jack), who passed away tonight from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

I met Jack when I pledged Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.  Unlike many people’s perceptions of fraternities, we had a very nice house that was clean and well-managed.  A very sweet elderly house-mother had a small apartment in the fraternity house and though we came from a variety of backgrounds (both rural and city), most of the young men were kind, respectful and reasonably well-behaved for college men of that age.

This was the mid 1980’s and it was the hey day for being preppy.  Penny loafers, madras or seersucker shorts and polo shirts were standard attire.  Many of my fraternity brothers (though certainly not all) were quite serious about their studies, pursuing degrees in accounting, engineering, architecture, journalism, pre-med, etc.  At the same time, we certainly had some great parties and had our share of girlfriends.

Jack was never preppy and, honestly, I never knew what he was studying.  He pursued his college degree on his own timeline.  Whenever I saw him, he was wearing high top tennis shoes and a sleeveless t-shirt.  He was the type of guy that would bound into the room with a huge smile on his face, plop himself down on the couch and then casually say something funny or witty.  Jack had this great counter-culture awareness and so much of his humor was quite off kilter and very funny.

One of Jack’s favorite pranks at the fraternity was to put shaving cream on the handset of the fraternity house phone.  Then Jack would then call the fraternity house phone ring, run to answer it and then get on the intercom and say “{Insert name}, you have a call on the house phone.”  The fraternity brother would come running, answer the phone, only to get a dial tone and shaving cream in his ear.

Jack wasn’t the kind of guy that aggressively pursued women.  He was just laid back Jack, with his funny, effervescent humor and energy.  He added life to every party and every conversation and so the girls naturally liked him.   He used to pedal a tandem bicycle around campus by himself and when he would see a pretty girl, he would stop and offer them a ride.  Many accepted.

This captures Jack's funny off kilter style of humor

This captures Jack’s funny off kilter style of humor

Being on his own schedule and in no real hurry to finish school (we used to joke about this), Jack took off to backpack in Europe for eight months.  Jack and I lost touch after that summer.  He finished his backpacking trip to Europe, but I had already moved off campus with some friends.  After I graduated, I moved to Chicago and started a new life working in consulting.

Only a few years ago now, many of us fraternity brothers were able to reconnect on Facebook.  Jack let us know that he had contracted ALS, but his spirits were high and he continued to post funny stories and content.  ALS is a cruel disease and, very sadly, there is a straight linear decline.  But Jack was always positive and remained funny.  He never blamed anyone, didn’t blast an unfair god or lament his terrible luck.

We maintained a personal dialog via Facebook messages and I greatly enjoyed our conversations.   I told him the story about a date that I had with one of his former girlfriends.  He chuckled and then sent me this message:

“Remember that night at po pears in 86? U gave me a ride there but I told a gal u abandoned me….{smiley face}”.  That was the last conversation we ever had.

I will miss you John Patrick Green.

P.S.  Jack has decided to donate his body to Creighton University Medical Center for further ALS research.  He asked that donations be given to http://www.alsintheheartland.org/.

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4 responses to “My Brother, John Patrick Green

  1. What a touching tribute, Doug. Very well written and you certainly have conveyed the joy of living that John had.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Err. Ahem. I can’t remember the difference between the 1st & 2nd versions, but I still enjoyed reading it 2nd time around.

    Unconditional Friendship is a connection that should be treasured. As you get older it’s easy to meet people, but hard to find true friendship that lasts through the years.

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