In Memoriam: Cecil H. Green


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death April 12, 2003 of Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member of the Corporation Cecil H. Green. He died in La Jolla, CA, of pneumonia at age 102.<

The last of the four founders of Texas Instruments, developer of the first silicon transistor, Cecil and his late wife Ida were well-known philanthropists who donated more than $200 million to education, cultural, scientific and medical institutions around the world.

Cecil Green began a long affiliation with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1959 and most recently served as an Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member. He joined the Associates in 1959 and became a Life Associate in 1990. He was elected an Honorary Trustee in 1971 and Honorary Member in 1974, and in 1980 presented the Joint Program commencement address during dockside ceremonies at the invitation of then Dean Charles Hollister. Cecil served as Honorary Chairman of the Institution's last Capital Campaign between 1991 and 1996 and visited the Institution on occasion to attend campaign events.

In 1991 the WHOI Associates established the Cecil H. Green Award, a memento and plaque, to honor "an individual who has made outstanding contributions to oceanographic research at WHOI" and presented the first award to him that year. Other recipients of the Green Award include Scientist Emeritus Stanley Watson, former Chairmen of the Board Charles Adams and Guy Nichols, and Honorary Trustees Walter Smith and Topsy Montgomery.

Cecil Green made a $2.1 million commitment to the Institution in 1991 to endow a technology innovation awards program, named The Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Technology Innovation Awards, to encourage new approaches to instrument development by bringing Institution scientists and engineers together to design and create interdisciplinary technology. Fifty-two awards totaling nearly $1.4 million have been given to WHOI staff since the program began.

Born August 6, 1900 in Manchester, England, Green and his family soon moved to Canada, where he attended schools in Vancouver, British Columbia. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1923 and 1924, respectively. In 1924 he joined General Electric Research Center in Schenectady, NY, and in 1926 married Ida Flansburgh, who died in 1986. He joined the staff of Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI) in 1932 just two years after the firm's founding, serving as a seismographic field crew chief exploring for oil in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

In 1941 Green and partners J. Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott and H.B. Peacock, bought Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI), one of the first independent prospecting companies established to perform reflection seismic exploration for petroleum. In 1951 the company name changed to Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI), and GSI became a wholly owned subsidiary. The following year the company entered the semiconductor business and in 1954 produced the first pocket-sized transistor radio. A few years later TI developed the integrated circuit and the company flourished. Between 1930 and 1975 Cecil Green served as Party Chief, Supervisor, Vice President, President, Chairman of the Board and Honorary Chairman of the Board of GSI. As a founder of TI, he served as Vice President from 1951 to 1965, as a Member of the Board from 1951 to 1976, and since 1976 was Honorary Director. Today Texas Instruments is a leading designer and supplier of digital signal processing and analog technologies and is an $8.4 billion company based in Dallas with more than 34,000 employees worldwide.

Generous supporters of education from kindergarten to postdoctoral studies at institutions around the world, Cecil and Ida Green have been honored widely. The pair received more than a dozen honorary degrees and many awards and tributes from academic institutions, professional and civic organizations, and the business community. Among the honors was the 1978 National Academy of Sciences gala "An International Tribute to Cecil and Ida Green" to honor the couple for their extraordinarily creative philanthropy. The pair endowed professorships, fellowships and scholarships, established training programs, made countless awards to students and assisted in the founding of two new colleges, The University of Texas at Dallas and Green College at Oxford University in England, the first new college built at the university in 200 years. Perhaps Cecil's most unique honor was his appointment in 1991 as Honorary Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his educational philanthropy. He enjoyed being "Sir Cecil" and proudly wore the award when he visited the Institution shortly after it was presented to him.

In 1965 the Greens established the Texas Association of Graduate Education and Research (TAGER), one of the first distance learning networks on the world. His generosity to educational institutions includes gifts to his alma maters, MIT and the University of British Columbia, as well as to Stanford University, the Colorado School of Mines, University of California, San Diego and The University of Sydney. The Cecil and Ida Green Building for Earth Sciences at MIT is one of more than 50 buildings and 35 special facilities, from hospitals, health care centers and libraries to civic buildings, named in their honor around the world.

Green's longtime friend, Professor Emeritus Robert Shrock of MIT, wrote of the couple's generosity in the 1989 book Cecil and Ida Green: Philanthropists Extraordinary: "To think seriously of giving to help others is commendable; to give is the essence of humanness and nobility; to give generously and with deep purpose is the greatest act of all because it requires thought, effort and discrimination of the highest order."

A memorial service is planned for Thursday, April 17, at 1:00 p.m. at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 743 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA. Burial is private.


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Cecil Howard Green

Cecil Howard Green (Terri Corbett, WHOI)