Melvin Green Obituary

Melvin   Green
Coach Melvin Green
Melvin Green

July 22, 1941 - January 11, 2022
Born in Louisville, KY
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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The Legend

Melvin Green, Sr., born July 22, 1941 in Louisville, KY, was the son of the late William Alfred Green, Sr. and the late Hattie Lee Williams Green. He accepted Christ as his savior as a young boy and was a member of New City Church, Des Moines, Iowa.

Mel, also affectionately known as Joe, grew up in Louisville, KY and was educated in the Louisville Public School System. It was as a student that he began to collect headlines for being celebrated as ‘the first’. As a high school freshman, he made the front page of the newspaper for being among the first black students to attend Louisville Male High School in. It was also at Male where he met his first love, Dianna L. Anderson Green. They later married and to that 20 year union four children were born, Melvin Green, Jr., Terri Irvin, Lynnette Morris, and Shereatha Green. Dianna preceded Mel in death in January of 1980.

After graduating from Male, Mel earned a basketball scholarship to Arkansas AM&N (now known as The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) with his life long crew, the late Steve Smith and the late Everett Stallworth. Knowing those two, they likely already have their shoes laced up and are waiting for him to get on the court after getting through the Pearly Gates. He earned a Masters Degree from Drake University.

His love for basketball, coaching, and mentoring young people led him to a life of service, education and excellence. He began his coaching and teaching career in August 1965 as an assistant boys basketball coach at Pleasure Ridge Park (PRP) High School in Louisville. He was the first black teacher and coach in the school history. He left Pleasure Ridge Park to return to his alma mater, Male High School where he assisted the late Jim Hutter in claiming the 1970 Boys Basketball State Championship.

In 1971, Mel moved his family to Des Moines, Iowa to accept a position as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Drake. Mel’s high school coaching career resumed when he accepted the job as the head boys basketball coach at Des Moines Technical High School in 1976. With this assignment came another ‘first’. He was the first black head coach in Des Moines Public Schools. After coaching at Tech, he went on to coach at Des Moines North from 1984 - 2005 and Des Moines East where he joined as an assistant girls coach from 2006 - 2010. Much to his surprise, he enjoyed coaching girls. Commenting, “They just do what you tell them to do.”

The highlight of his coaching career was when his son, Mel Green, Jr. joined him on the bench. Mel Jr’s. service with his dad actually began at age six keeping basketball stats while at Pleasure Ridge Park. Mel made sure all his children had an affinity for the game. They either played, cheered, or served as managers.

His wife, Lonie Green, had a significant role with his teams as well. She spent long hours dedicating her time along side him while he coached and spoke at engagements. They were devoted to one another for many years and enjoyed being with family and attending church events, when Mel wasn’t coaching, speaking, or mentoring.

Mel had a large influence on the youth and coaching community. The success of his children and players were his passion. He rarely missed an opportunity to hold court. He never met a stranger and people rarely became acquaintances, they transitioned immediately to family. He always had words of encouragement and advice….and spent a long, long time telling it to you in the most entertaining ways.

“God first, family second, work or school third”

“You’re going to be a man (or a lady) a lot longer than you’re going to be an athlete.”

“If you see me in the woods fighting a bear, don’t help me, help the bear.”

“If a ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”

“You’re too light to fight and too thin to win”

“If a dog had a square behind he would ____ square bricks”

Mel’s distinguished coaching career was highlighted with his decorated awards. He was inducted in the B’nai Brith Hall of Fame and the Des Moines North Wall of Fame.

On January 11, 2022 at 5:15 a.m., The Lord called Mel out of the game. The final buzzer sounded, he looked at the clock and left the court for the last time. His work was done and he did it well. In his own words, he was “where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing, somewhere close to the best of his ability”, which was another one of his wise sayings.

Mel leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 41 years, Lonie Green, sons Melvin (Lisa) Green, Jr.; Lynnis D. Turner; Terri (Franklin) Irvin; Lynnette (Reggie) Morris; Shereatha (Terry Hughes) Green; Grandchildren - Dianna Green; Andre’ Green; Stephfon Irvin; Ashley Irvin; Franklin Irvin, III; Richmond Morris, Sr.; Raven Morris; Rachel Morris; Reggie Morris, Jr.; Kendall Anderson, Sr.; Jasmine Hughes; Jordan Hughes; Jeri Hughes; Great Grandchildren - Alexa Porter; Nia Irvin; Franklin Irvin IV; Kaiden Irvin; Richmond Morris, Jr.; Dilynn Morris; Giselle Goodwin; Kyra Anderson; Kendall Anderson, Jr.; and Kayden Anderson; Siblings - William Clay (Paula) Green; Ester (Drane) Scrivener; William Alfred (Linda) Green, Jr. best friends and cousins the late Reverend Lawrence Henry Williams and Raul Cunningham; God Children -Tyra Mays; William Little; and Michael Ingram; The Jenkins family; a host of nieces, nephews, in-laws, cousins and friends.

Services will be held 12 p.m. Tuesday, January 18, at New City Church where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. The service will be livestreamed on the Iles website. Go to at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday and scroll to the bottom of Melvin’s obituary to join in the service. Burial will follow at Glendale Cemetery.

Contributions may be made to the North High School Alumni Association. Online condolences and a complete obituary may be found at






New City Church
3114 SW 61st St.
Des Moines, IA US 50321
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Funeral Service
New City Church
3114 SW 61st St.
Des Moines, IA US 50321
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
12:00 PM
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North High Alumni Association
501 Holcomb Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50313