At 101, LS Green reflects on time as Mauldin’s mayor, WWII service, life in the Upstate | Greenville News
MAULDIN — All these years later, people still call him mayor.
It’s a title that LS Green will never shake. One that stems from the 12 years he led Mauldin’s city council. One that holds up because of the unique place it occupies in the identity of the Upstate town it calls home since its return from World War II.
At age 101, he remains a fixture at community events and can be found at the Mauldin Sports Center every day except Sunday. When dining out in the city where he was mayor from 1992 to 2003, he often asks for the bill and discovers that one of his fellow diners has paid for his meal.
“I’ve let more people buy my food,” he said with a laugh and shook his head.
He grew up on a farm in Greenville County with no modern plumbing or electricity. He started working when he was 8 years old, lighting the house’s cooking flames and looking after his family’s cows and horses. When he was drafted at age 21, he was given a month’s reprieve to help his father bring in that year’s cotton crop before entering basic training in Columbia. It was the first time he had been away from home for more than a few days. Within weeks he was aboard the Queen Mary sailing across the Atlantic to Europe and war.
He was assigned to an anti-aircraft fire brigade and fought in some of the major campaigns of the war, including the Battle of the Bulge, Normandy, Italy and North Africa. During his time in Europe, he earned five Bronze Stars and the French Legion of Honor.
He talks sparingly of his time in the military, and it was only recently that his family learned the magnitude of his awards. The revelation came when Keith Giddens, a family friend and WWII researcher, sat down to talk to Green about his time in the military. Giddens heard about Green’s honor while reviewing his discharge papers.
“When we try to talk more about the details, he basically says, ‘I think that’s enough,'” Giddens said.
To honor Green’s service, Giddens placed the medals in a shadow box as a gift for Green’s 100th birthday last year.
“We have a hero here that is over a century old,” Giddens said.
Shortly after returning from Europe, Green met his wife Ella Mae. He briefly worked as a firefighter at Donaldson Air Force Base before embarking on a career in plumbing. In 1955 he started the LS Green Plumbing Service. During Green’s 50 years in business, Green expanded the business from a two-person operation to a thriving business with approximately 65 employees.
His role as the owner of a successful Mauldin business made him a community leader, and in 1992 he was elected mayor.
“I couldn’t tell you to save me that got me into politics,” he said with a smile. “I think I wanted to be a part of Mauldin’s growth.”
During his time in office, Green led the city’s efforts to purchase the former Mauldin Elementary School, laid the foundations for the Mauldin Cultural Center, and led the process of building a new City Hall. Both attempts, he said, met with fierce opposition.
Mauldin City Councilor Taft Matney was a young child when he first met Green. They went to the same church and still do, and Green took ballroom dancing lessons with Matney’s grandparents. The work Green did during his tenure as mayor, Matney said, helped position the city for the successes it enjoys today.
Green’s time as mayor ended in 2003. In 2005, he retired and dissolved his plumbing company. But he continued to work part-time as a plumber until he was 92.
“When I got to where I couldn’t crawl under a house, I stopped,” he said.
Now, eight decades after going to war, nearly seven years since he started his business, and nearly two years since he stepped down as mayor, Green is active and enjoying his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He often works in the manicured garden in his backyard, growing tomatoes, pumpkins, okra, peppers and green beans for his friends and family.
“I don’t know if I have the energy now that he’s at 101,” Matney said. “He’s just a humble man who’s done so much and seen so much. I don’t know if he’ll ever understand why people like to make such a fuss about him, but they’re doing it because of who he is.”
Follow Conor Hughes on Twitter at @ConorJHughes.