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Don Green didn’t just happen.

The father of Sonoma County’s multibillion-dollar Telecom Valley and Green Music Center started out as an observant and substantially self-taught kid in war-haunted Liverpool.

Young Donald Green took note of what worked and what didn’t, what was right and what wasn’t.

He registered each finding internally — like when he returned to grammar school following a yearslong break forced by German bombing raids over England. It caught him off guard when Miss Bennington, the teacher, called on him to stand and recite a bit of the Wordsworth poem “Daffodils.”

Green recalls in his new memoir, “A bead of sweat rolled down my face and dripped onto my desk. I stood, swallowed and stammered out the first line.”

When Miss Bennington invited him to try again the next day, the 11-year-old Green sat down, “feeling like an idiot,” he wrote.

“Though that happened decades ago,” he declares in his autobiography, “I’ve never forgotten those feelings, the intense fear that accompanies speaking to others when unprepared.

“I vowed never to let it happen again.”

Green entitled his book “Defining Moments.” What happened there in Miss Bennington’s classroom in 1942 was one of them.

Many more formative moments sparkle like stars framing the constellation of Green’s extraordinarily full and prolific life. He tells in his candid, crisply written book of not considering himself a singer until, at the conclusion of an all-congregation hymn at a San Francisco church in the late 1960s, a woman in the pew just ahead “half-turned and said, ‘You have a nice voice. You should join the choir.’”

He did, and a short time later his wife and sweetheart since their teens, the former Maureen Eustace, pulled on a robe of the All Saints’ Episcopal Church choir, too.

Their ever-evolving love of choral music prompted them in 1997 to offer $10 million from the initial sale of stock of Advanced Fibre Communications of Petaluma, one of dozens of digital technology firms co-founded, invested in or influenced by Don Green, for the construction of a music hall at Sonoma State University.

Fifteen years and well more than an additional $100 million later, the namesake couple attended the grand-opening gala at SSU of the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center.

The book revisits the defining events that prompted the Greens to leave England with their young family and emigrate to Canada, where the then-23-year-old Don Green, fascinated since youth by telephones and radios, found work as phone company engineer in Montreal.

Many adventures followed, one involving a scramble up a remote tower to escape a bear.

The Greens might still be in Canada were it not for the instant the young engineer noticed that simple iron rings were common on the hands of his superiors.

He asked one wearer of the ring what is signified. “Oh, it’s no big deal,” the fellow replied. “It just means the wearer belongs to an association of engineers who graduated from a Canadian university.”

Green recalls in “Defining Moments” that he asked the man, “If it’s no big deal, why is it that every promotion since I’ve been here has gone to someone with a ring?” He watched for a while longer as steps-up went predictably to co-workers with rings.

About then, he wrote, “It was time to look for another job.”

He found one with a small telephone networks firm in San Francisco. That was in 1960.

“Defining Moments,” replete with family scrapbook photos and completed with editing by Sonoma County author and instructor Steve Boga, retraces in conversational and compelling fashion Green’s early work in digital telephone technology and the founding in 1969 of his first company, Digital Telephone Systems, in Marin County. By 1976, DTS employed nearly 1,000 people and its annual sales reached $60 million.

Green’s co-founding of Optilink in Petaluma in 1987 gave birth to Sonoma County’s Telecom Valley. He recounts in his book that not long after “two security guards and a man in a black suit” strode into his office at Optilink and announced his services were no longer required, he and John Webley and a couple other partners started up, also in Petaluma, Advanced Fibre Communications.

Green wrote that taking AFC public with the initial sale of stock in 1996 left him with “a greater sense of accomplishment than maybe ever before. My first IPO — what a kick!” In ’97, he and Maureen celebrated with their offer of $10 million for the construction of a music hall at Sonoma State.

High among the other key moments Green credits with defining his life is when Maureen Green said to him, “There are so many children who need a family, and we want more children.” They and their children, David and Rebecca, welcomed into the family Duncan and then Victoria.

As with any life, Green’s has been marked also by its share of moments painful and worse. One occurred in 2006 as he prepared to present friend and frequent telecom partner John Webley with a Businessman of the Year award at a banquet in Rohnert Park.

“I began to feel dizzy,” Green wrote in his memoir. “As I staggered to the podium, I thought I might collapse.”

An ambulance ride to an emergency room was followed soon enough by a diagnosis of the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

It had reduced Green’s mobility when, in 2010, forgetfulness by Maureen led to tests that concluded she suffers from advancing Alzheimer’s disease.

Her husband wrote in “Defining Moments,” “As for me, I continue to spend time with Maureen every day. Sitting with her, I take her hand in mine and recall all those wonderful years I shared with this independent, intelligent, beautiful woman.”

Green is selling his self-published book for $40 and will donate the proceeds to the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestras.

He’s hosting a book-release celebration at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Green Music Center.

It will begin in Schroeder Hall with remarks from Green, performances by youth orchestra members and the SSU madrigals, a demonstration of the hall’s Brombaugh Opus 9 organ and an actor’s reading of excerpts from the book.

Everyone will be invited to move to the lobby of Weill Hall for British-inspired appetizers and book signings. All the seats in Schroeder Hall have been claimed, but there are a few available in an adjacent rehearsal room.

Green asks that people who’d like to attend let him know with an email to definingmomentsmemoir@gmail.com.

His book can be pre-ordered at www.donald-green.com. After the release party, books can be ordered also by calling 707-687-2003.

Green will appear with signed copies for sale during intermission and following the Santa Rosa Symphony’s performance in Weill Hall at 3 p.m. on Nov. 6. Books also will be available at the 8 p.m. performance the following day.

Corricks in downtown Santa Rosa will carry “Defining Moments” and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 29 will welcome Green for a public signing.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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