local advocacy leader passes by
Radford professor's death a 'cruel irony'
A bicyling enthusiast died Tuesday after being hit by a car while biking last week.
By Tim Thornton
Fess Green is dead.
The 67-year-old bicycling advocate died nearly a week after he and his bike collided with a car near the entrance to Radford's Bisset Park. The car cut across Green's path as the automobile entered the park. Green hit the side of the car. He was taken to Carilion New River Valley Medical Center and flown from there to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where he died Tuesday.
The accident is still under investigation. No charges have been filed against Ryan Brinkley Sherman, the 20-year-old who was driving the car.
A member of Radford University's faculty for more than 20 years, Green -- his given name was Forrest -- was a driving force in the redevelopment of Radford's Wildwood Park, helping with the design and construction of trails and recruiting Radford students to help maintain them. In 1929, before it was named Wildwood, it was Radford's first city park, but it fell into disuse and disrepair. Volunteers such as Green helped bring it back.
"He's put in -- I can't even imagine -- thousands and thousands of hours in Wildwood Park," said Liz Altieri, president of Pathways, a group that promotes trails and bikeways in Radford and throughout western Virginia. "He was a tireless volunteer."
Just last month, Green helped write a grant proposal to get money to improve the entrance to Wildwood Park. If the grant comes through, Altieri said, that entrance may become a memorial site for Green. It will certainly be part of his legacy.
Green was part of the university's management department from 1987. Before that, he taught at Virginia Tech, where he earned his doctorate. He also taught at Appalachian State and Old Dominion University. Green served in Vietnam and retired from the Navy. He and his wife, Millie, have two grown daughters.
During summers from 1994 to 1998, Green biked the Wilderness Road, an 850-mile trail that ran from Philadelphia into Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley. Daniel Boone led the party that cut the trail in 1775, blazing the way for a stream of settlers.
Green peddled that path, kept a journal of his journey and married it with his research of the road's history to create "Wilderness Road Odyssey: A Cyclist's Journey Through Present and Past." The book was published in 2003.
"He was a real advocate for bicycling in Virginia, bicycling as alternate transportation," Altieri said. "The cruel irony -- here's somebody who so believed in bicycling as alternative transportation and that's the way he died."
"Since he's been hurt, you hear all these stories of things he's done to help people," Altieri said. "He was a remarkable man, and this community's going to miss him very much."
Millie Green said she plans to encourage people to contribute to Pathways' work at Wildwood Park rather than send the family flowers.
"I think he would really enjoy that," she said.