Cecil H. Green (S.B. and S.M. 1924), a worldwide philanthropist whose family name graces the tallest building on the MIT campus as well as a women's residence hall and nine endowed professorships, died on April 11 of complications from pneumonia at the age of 102.

He died at his residence in a hospital he endowed, the Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.

Green and his late wife, Ida, over four decades donated $31,752,759 to MIT, equal to more than $91 million in today's dollars. The New York Times obituary reported that their philanthropy totaled $200 million.

MIT President Charles M. Vest commented, "Cecil and Ida Green were two of the most extraordinary philanthropists in the world. They created facilities and endowed programs in education, science, medicine, social services and the arts at universities and medical centers throughout this country, England, Canada and Chile. Their contributions to MIT were vitally important in many fields. They were especially supportive of women graduate students and faculty."

There are buildings named after the Greens at MIT, the University of British Columbia, Stanford, Scripps Health Center in La Jolla, University of California at San Diego, the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Texas Dallas, Southwest Medical Center, Baylor University, the National Research Council in Washington, D.C., and at the Magellan Telescope in Chile. In England, Green's philanthropy was responsible for the establishment of Green College at Oxford University.

At MIT, the Greens provided major funding for the 295-foot-tall Cecil H. and Ida F. Green Center for Earth Sciences, designed by I.M. Pei, and the Ida Flansburgh Green Hall for graduate women. A major renovation in the department of physics will be named The Cecil H. and Ida F. Green Center for Physics.

The Greens endowed six full MIT professorships--two in physics, two in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences (EAPS), one in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), and one in education. In addition, junior faculty members are appointed to three career development chairs (one in EAPS and two Institute-wide) for three-year terms.

David Pritchard and Jeffrey Goldstone currently hold the physics chairs while Bradford Hager and Carl Wunsch have the EAPS appointments. Funds for the education chair, held by Margaret MacVicar at the time of her death, have been used to support the MacVicar Faculty Fellowship program.

Green co-founded Texas Instruments, Inc. in 1951 and amassed a fortune by the time he retired in 1975. After that, he devoted his life to giving away the fortune.

"The idea is to get down to my last nickel before I die," he said in the 1990s. Their list of contributions requires 18 pages in "Cecil and Ida Green, Philanthropists Extraordinary," the 1989 biography written by their good friend Robert R. Shrock, the late MIT professor of geology.

The Green Building was dedicated on Oct. 2, 1964. Eugene McDermott, one of the original partners in Texas Instruments, commissioned his Stevens Tech classmate, Alexander Calder, to create "The Big Sail," a sculpture that faces the Green Building on McDermott Court. McDermott was a longtime member of the MIT Corporation.

Born in Manchester, England, on Aug. 6, 1900, Green moved to Canada as an infant and on to San Francisco in 1905, where his father was a cable car operator. Shortly after the 1906 earthquake, the family moved to Vancouver, B.C., where Green, an only child, grew up.

He attended the University of British Columbia before going to MIT. At MIT he received the S.B. and S.M. in electrical engineering, and is listed as a member of the Class of 1923. Green sold neon lighting, automobiles and insurance before he began his engineering career in 1924 at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y., where he met Ida Mabelle Flansburgh. They were married two years later.

Green traveled to Saudi Arabia in 1930 with an oil exploration crew for Geophysical Services in Dallas, a pioneer in digital analysis of seismic records. With three partners, Green bought the company on Dec. 6, 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Geophysical Services, which made submarine detection devices and radar during World War II, became Texas Instruments in 1951. The next year, it entered the semiconductor business and produced the first pocket-sized transistor radio in 1954. Green was president of Texas Instruments from 1951 to 1955.

Aside from philanthropy, the Greens' passion was travel. They visited the Middle East, Central and South America, Hong Kong and Europe together. After Mrs. Green died in 1986, he traveled alone to Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and China. The Greens had no children and there are no survivors.

Green was elected to the MIT Corporation in 1958 and became a life member in 1975.

In 1990, Green became the first American citizen to be named an honorary member of the Chinese Geophysical Society by the Republic of China. The next year, Queen Elizabeth II made him Sir Cecil Green as an honorary Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

A memorial service was held April 17 at St. James-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla. Burial was private.

I wish I could have a relative like Cecil Green. He was my kind of guy. He helped computer

Cecil Howard Green was born in Manchester, England on 6 August 1900. He was the only son of Charles Henry and Maggie (Howard) Green. In 1902 the family sailed from Liverpool to North America, settling in Sydney, Nova Scotia. During the next several years, Cecil's father worked hard to find his place in his adopted land, and this resulted in an ever-westward migration for the Green family. From Sydney they went to Montreal, Toronto, and San Francisco where, as a witness to the great earthquake of 1906, young Cecil received his first lesson in geophysics. Later in 1906, the Green family made a further move to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Cecil's father found work in the mineral industry as an apprentice electrician.

Cecil attended Vancouver's public elementary schools and then went on to King Edward High School. After graduating in 1918, he enrolled in the University of British Columbia, focusing his attention on science and engineering courses with an eye to making electrical engineering his career. His summers were spent working with his father as an electrician's helper. Because of his interest in electrical engineering, his chemistry professor, an M.I.T. graduate, suggested that Cecil apply for admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His application accepted, Cecil entered M.I.T. as a transfer student in 1921. Two years later he graduated in the Class of 1923, receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering. He stayed on at M.I.T. for another year, and in 1924, was awarded the Master of Science Degree.

At M.I.T., the curriculum of the Cooperative Program (Course VI-A) in Electrical Engineering required that classroom and laboratory instruction be combined with practical work in a participating industrial plant. Cecil was assigned to the General Electric Company's Lynn, Massachusetts, and Schenectady, New York, plants. It was in Schenectady, while working on his thesis "No-load Flux Distribution to Synchronous Machines," that he met Ida Mabelle Flansburgh, a General Electric statistician.

When Cecil finished his studies in 1924, he returned to Schenectady as a full-time employee in General Electric's Turbine Generation Division in the Alternating Current Engineering Department and as an instructor in advanced engineering at GE's school.

Cecil and Ida were married on 6 February 1926.

Ida Green was born in Pittsburgh in 1903. She and her younger brother, Frederick Louis, were the children of Louis Wilford and Laura (Bolton) Flansburgh. Shortly after Ida's birth, the Flansburgh family moved to New York where they spent several years living in the scenic Adirondacks. Ida attended elementary and secondary schools in Schenectady.

Soon after their marriage, Cecil and Ida moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Cecil took a job as a researcher in gaseous tube devices at the Raytheon Company. In 1928 he left Raytheon to work as a Production Engineer in the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. A year later, he and Ida drove across the country to Palo Alto, California, where Cecil accepted a position as an engineer in the Electronics Department with the Federal Telegraph Company (ITT). In 1930 he left Federal Telegraph to join Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI) in Maude, Oklahoma as a Field Party Chief. However, shortly after he arrived at GSI, the discovery of oil in the East Texas oilfield eliminated the need for further exploration, and GSI employees were encouraged to try and return temporarily to their previous employments. Cecil returned to Palo Alto and Federal Telegraph. A return trip East was made in 1931 when the Electronics Laboratory of Federal Telegraph was relocated in Newark, New Jersey, and Cecil became its Director. In 1932 Cecil and Ida were on the road again, this time to Dallas, Texas, where Cecil responded to a call from Eugene McDermott to rejoin GSI as a Field Party Chief. Later Cecil would become one of the principals in reconstituting GSI and would spend his entire professional life there.

Cecil's decision to return to GSI marked a turning point in the lives of the Greens. There he met oilmen, J.C. Karcher and John Erik Jonsson. In later years, Karcher withdrew from the company, and Green, Jonsson, and McDermott would become valued friends as well as astute and indispensable business colleagues.

As GSI expanded, Cecil became a regional supervisor in 1936. In the late Thirties, however, with Hitler on the march in Europe, war threatened foreign oil exploration and GSI's parent company, the Coronado Petroleum Company, moved towards acquisition by Standard Oil Company of Indiana, with GSI as part of the transaction. Cecil and Ida risked their life savings to join with Henry B. Peacock, McDermott and Jonsson to buy GSI as partners in a reorganized company. The papers were signed on December 6, 1941, with Cecil becoming Vice President. Mr. Peacock withdrew after about one year, leaving the triumvirate of Green, Jonsson and McDermott. Cecil rose to President in 1950, became Chairman of the Board in 1955, and Honorary Chairman of the Board in 1959, a position he held until 1975.

During the next decade, GSI grew rapidly, pioneering the use of the reflection seismograph in the search for mineral resources. It became not only a major geophysical exploration company, but also developed a large electronics manufacturing capability. Since electronics instrumentation was urgently needed to help the U.S. war effort, the owners of GSI established Texas Instruments Incorporated in 1945, a company which later became a giant in the electronics industry. Cecil served as a Director of the Company from its inception until 1975 when he became an Honorary Director.

When the Greens settled in Dallas, Ida became involved in a number of community activities. She solicited major gifts for the United Fund, helped raise financial support for the blind and for a home for juvenile delinquents.

She enrolled in Southern Methodist University and took an active part in the American Association of University Women. Her work in this organization included service as a Vice President of the Dallas Branch and Implementation Chairman for the study group on "Science: A Creative Discipline." In later years, Ida became an SMU trustee, and in 1973, she was awarded the Mortar Board, the University's highest honor.

Her participation in civic affairs is impressive and includes service on the Boards of the League of Women Voters, The Dallas Children's Medical Center, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Scripps Memorial Hospital of La Jolla, California. She has been a member of the Women's Council of Dallas County, the Texas League, the Women's Auxiliary of the Dallas County Hospital District, Dallas Council of World Affairs, Dallas Women's Club, Cadence Club, and the R.B. & Cleo George Memorial Hospital of the Children's Medical Center. She is a Past President of the Dallas Geological and Geophysical Auxiliary and Honorary Member of the Mothers' Club of St. Mark's School of Texas.

In 1977 Ida was awarded Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degrees from Texas Christian University and Austin College. She was also designated a Vice Admiral of the Texas Navy.

Throughout their lives Cecil and Ida Green have been acutely aware of the importance of education in shaping their own destinies. Consequently, by strengthening teaching and research capabilities of several institutions, they have made it possible for thousands of young people to pursue their own educational goals and develop their talents.

The Green name is inscribed on buildings, laboratories, libraries, theatres, rooms and special facilities in Australia, Canada, England and the United States. Their professorships, lectureships, fellowships and scholarships have benefited generations of students and educators at all levels in fields which range across the spectrum from science and medicine to social sciences, humanities and the arts.

I should have started this when I first started. I could have posted all the Eureka moments as I found them. Tracing families has got a whole lot easier than it was when I first started. It would take months or even years to find one little piece of information. Now with all the resources on the internet, a person can find most of the information they need. Sometimes though, you have to do a lot of digging still.

With the Howard family, I had a few names to start with. Tom Howard came to the States from England. He was a barber and he married Alice Ireland. They had one son, Harry Howard. Harry had two children, William Harry and Alice. William had 3 children and Alice had 2 children.

Having a unique occupation, Tom was trackable through the years in the census records and city directories. I kept finding a hint on ancestry.com that stated his father was James Sackfield Howard but it also said that the son named Thomas had died in 1881. Then I found a record of Thomas and Alice coming from Vancouver, BC in 1915. He listed his contact person as Maggie Green, sister, living in Vancouver. James Sackfield Howard had a daughter named Maggie who had married a fellow named Green. So I took the plunge and entered James as Thomas'  father on ancestry and things started falling together.

I had always thought that Tom had come to the States, leaving his family behind him but it turns out that he blazed the trail so to speak. Two of his sisters and two of his brothers plus his parents also came over to North America over the years. His parents travelled with his brother James Albert and his family in 1903, landing in Montreal. James lived in Waterloo, Ontario for a few years and two of his children were born there. He then moved to BC, where he had 3 more children.

Maggie and her husband, Charles and their son, Cyril, lived in Ontario for awhile as well, then moved to San Francisco, where Maggie and her son plus her sister and her family survived the Great Fire of 1906. Charles worked at several jobs over the years, one of which was a quarry which was later turned into the Butchart Gardens. Cyril went on to be one of the founders of Texas Instruments. He did not have any children.

Butchart Gardens


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    October 2012