Dodenhuff Green was so poor growing up in the Jim Crow era in South Carolina that one day when he saw a wealthy man dressed in a shirt and a tie he vowed he would dress well himself every day if he ever made enough money, relatives said.
Green, a well-known African-American Pentecostal pastor in the Uniondale and Hempstead areas, eventually did well enough to keep his vow -- even wearing a button-down shirt and tie when he mowed his lawn in Freeport, said one of his granddaughters, Caprice Rines, of Hempstead.
Born in April 1915, Green died Dec. 6, at the age of 99. "My grandfather was such a legendary man in this area," Rines said Monday. "He left a mark on his community."
Others shared that view.
Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray dedicated a street to Green in 2007. The intersection of Adams Street and Nassau Road in Uniondale, where the church Green founded was located, was renamed "Rev. Dodenhuff Green Street."
In a statement Monday, Murray called Green "a spiritual icon on Long Island, tending to his flock at the Christ Temple Church of God in Christ. Called to preach the gospel at the age of six, Reverend Green's dedication to his religious beliefs spanned nine decades."
Green grew up as one of six children in South Carolina, where he was forced to leave school in the fifth grade to help earn for his family, Rines said. He learned to sew his own clothes, and taught some of his children to do the same.
By the 1940s, Green moved north to Harlem, where he began to officially serve as pastor at a church. In the 1950s, he moved to Long Island, where he continued as a pastor and eventually founded his own church in his Freeport home. Later, he constructed a church building, which opened in 1973 in Uniondale.
To pay the bills at home, he was active in business as well, Rines said. He opened what she said was one of the first minority-owned gasoline stations in the area on Babylon Turnpike near the Roosevelt/Freeport border.
"He was very industrious. He never let anything stop him," Rines said. Green also worked for years at Grumman Aerospace, serving as a metallurgical engineer after he underwent training, relatives said.
When he was in his 60s, he began formal studies in religion, and went on to receive high-level degrees in theology and divinity, Rines said. He was active until recently, retiring from the church two years ago after suffering health problems.
He is survived by a daughter, Adele Green Wilson, of Freeport; many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. He was buried Monday in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.