If a person’s life is measure by the number of friends they have, then Ada Newton “Newt” Nalle Green’s life would have been off the charts.
Newt never met a person she wouldn’t soon call “friend,” her many friends recalled at her memorial service Jan. 12.
Green, 92, passed away Jan. 5, closing a chapter of one of the most colorful lives in Culpeper history.
A lifelong resident of Culpeper, she was the widow of longtime Culpeper and Orange publisher Angus Green. They made their home at the estate of Greenwood and was employed by the Department of Information in Washington, D.C. and later by The United States Employment Service in Culpeper.
Her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Green Pentecost called her one of the last vestiges of “old Culpeper.”
“Everyone was her friend, she lit up a room,” Anne said. “She was joyful, exuberant, outgoing. She never met a stranger. We were just so blessed to be raised by two wonderful people. Honestly, it’s the end of an era. It’s old Culpeper, there’s very few left.”
The number of people she touched numbered in the thousands and more than 200 turned out on a cold January day to remember their dear friend Newt and laugh about the times they shared with her.
“I couldn’t have done it without all of her friends,” Anne said. “These last 90 days she was surrounded by her friends. When I wasn’t here I would always call and check on her and I would say ‘Mom, are you having a cocktail party in your hospital room? Do your friends know you’re recovering from a brain trauma?’ ‘I would just be so bored if they weren’t here,’ she’d say.”
Her son, William Nalle McDonald Green recalled the parties she and her husband would host at Greenwood.
“We’d park in the field, I was the parking attendant and we would have these enormous fish frys every year with dad,” William said. “Back when Culpeper was Culpeper we had endless fields so we would just run from corn field to corn field. It was a completely different time, a completely different world.”
Newt and Angus took great pride in Greenwood, 53 acres surrounded by farmland. Anne and William both recalled riding bikes after school on the property, with their parents having no way of knowing where they were. Both of since relocated to Florida but fondly recall their times growing up in Culpeper.
William, too, was blown away by the response of the community at his mother’s passing.
“It’s amazing, the number of people is amazing,” William said. “A number of them I don’t know or recognize. It’s amazing that how many people have come out.”
She was a lifelong member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Culpeper, where she served in various capacities, including church secretary for 10 years. Active as a member of Culpeper hospital’s auxiliary, she was also a member of the Society for the Preservation of Culpeper History, former member of Little Fork Episcopal Church’s Preservation Committee and the Calfee Garden Club, and over the years was involved in a number of other organizations.
The Rev. Ben Shelton, of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, called Newt the ultimate evangelist when it came to spreading the word of God and of the church of which she was a lifelong member.
He recalled a time when he and his wife were out on a date night at a busy local restaurant, waiting to be seated.
They saw Newt and a friend, and the two parties were seated around the same time. However, when Newt was seated, her group had grown to include a young couple also waiting for a table. She had invited them to sit with her and her friend. At the end of the night, Rev. Shelton walked by and was grabbed by Newt.
“Have you found a good church yet?” Newt asked the young couple, and then singing the praises of St. Stephen’s.
“She shared selflessly with those around her,” Shelton said. “This is how I remember Newt, hopeful, determined, centered.”
Mary Jo Browning called Newt a friend for 60 years. Their children grew up together and they hosted parties together. They would attend the Montpelier races, church suppers and social events with each other.
“She was very outgoing, she loved people, she loved living,” Browning said. “She worked hard and she also very much cared for Culpeper and what Culpeper stood for.”
As a member of the Society for the Preservation of Culpeper History, she helped put out a historic calendar of sites in Culpeper. This year, Browning supposes they will dedicate that calendar to Newt.
“Her family had lived here for four and five generations, Angus’ family had been here about the same amount of time,” Browning said. “They believed in preserving the family history as well as the local history.”
Browning said that Newt’s generosity knew no bounds, and that her greatest trait was welcoming others.
“Newt never wanted anybody to be left out, she wanted everybody to be included,” Browning said. “She would invite new people into her house for social occasions. We had a wine club and she would invite someone she just met on the street. They were delightful. She was willing to take the chance.”
Morgan Pierce, Museum of Culpeper History executive director, said she was an ardent supporter of Culpeper history and the museum.
“She was always at our events, she was always there to help and always donating anything that we needed,” Pierce said. “She will be missed by everyone that is involved at the museum.”
Town councilman Billy Yowell grew up just down the street from Newt and went to church with her at St. Stephen’s.
“She was always vivacious,” he said. “She loved young people. She did so much volunteer stuff, she was a patron of the arts.”
Anne hugged neighbors, friends and community members by the hundreds last Friday, each having a special memory of her mom. Many of those centered around Greenwood, and the
“We sure hope somebody is going to buy our home and we were hoping to keep it in the family,” Anne said. “We aren’t there yet, we just don’t know yet, our goal is to keep it in the family.”
She was laid to rest at Culpeper National Cemetery, next to Angus, an Army veteran of World War II. Memorial contributions may be made to Little Fork Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 367, Rixeyville, Virginia 22737; The Museum of Culpeper History, 113 S. Commerce Street, Culpeper, Virginia 22701; or St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 115 N. East Street, Culpeper, Virginia 22701.