Highway name reflects Greens’ ‘indeliable mark’
LIVINGSTON — It wasn’t difficult to understand what was missing from the small room at the University of West Alabama on Monday.
There was the podium, all the senior administrators of the university, the supporters of the school, and former University of West Alabama President Dr. Asa Green.
Monday marked a special, yet trying, occasion for Green when a portion of Alabama Highway 28 was renamed the Betty and Asa Green Highway.
From 1973-1993, Green served as president of the Livingston school, and for every step he took, wife Betty was right by his side. On this occasion, Betty Green was not in attendance. She passed away in November 2003.
Fighting through tears, Green thanked the large body of supporters who gathered for the event. He also thanked the woman who made an indelible mark of the university.
“Betty did hear about this,” Green said, fighting through tears. “She knew this was going to happen and it brightened her last days. And for that, I’m especially grateful.”
Green served as president of then-Livingston University for 20 years, making him the second-longest president to only Julia Tutwiler. Under his watch, the Ira D. Pruitt School of Nursing was established and the physical plant was expanded. Construction of the Wallace Student Union Building, Reed Hall, Home Field House, Hoover Apartments and the Hunt Technology Complex happened under Green, as did the renovation of Brock, Webb and Bibb Grave Halls.
While Green had a last impact on UWA, his wife may have played just as large a role in the success of the school and the experience of the students.
“Before we made our decision, Betty had some reservations about coming to Livingston,” Green recalled Monday. “She didn’t know if she could be a president’s wife.”
Green said his only spousal advice was to “go down there and be yourself.”
And that’s exactly what Betty Green did.
“She developed a deep love for this university, for this city, for this county and for West Alabama,” Green said. “That’s why, when I retired, we stayed in Livingston.”
The role Betty Green played in the success of her husband’s presidency went far beyond being a sidekick.
“Betty made herself available to any worthwhile project,” Green said. “And she probably worked harder and longer than some of the paid help we had here.”
One of Green’s fondest memories of his wife was her ability to capture a student’s real admiration.
“I was always intrigued when we went to a homecoming game,” Green said. “I can’t tell you how many students used to seek us out. And they were not looking for me. People loved her because, in the final analysis, she did what I asked her to do. She came to Livingston and she was herself.”
In accepting the honor of having a highway named after the couple, Asa Green singled out the accomplishment as one of the greatest two in his life.
“The first was the Distinguished Service Award presented [in Livingston] at the annual Fourth of July event,” he said. “This is the other. They are special because they are conferred jointly to Betty and me.”