Grandfather William Wallace Greene’s Four Years at 1920s Phoenix Union High School

Phoenix Union High School
Penny Postcard of Phoenix Union High School.1

My 22nd entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015. The theme for week 22 is – Commencement: Countless schools will be having their commencement ceremonies around this time. Think not only about school, but also about commencement meaning “a beginning.”

My 22nd ancestor is my husband’s paternal grandfather, William Wallace Greene (1908-2003), who went on to Stanford medical school, became a surgeon, volunteered to serve in WWII and left as a Lt. Col., and treated victims at a liberated concentration camp.

Grandfather Greene grew up in the territory and then state of Arizona. He was born 26 August 1908 in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona Territory, as the oldest of two children to William Wallace Greene, Sr. (1869-1944), and Veronica Victoria Dorris (1883-1982). He was 3 and 1/2 years old when Arizona achieved statehood in 1912.

Wallace, as he liked to be called then, attended Phoenix Union High School. Phoenix Union High School was founded in 1895, beginning “…with four classrooms and 90 students.”2 The high school, located at 7th Street and Van Buren, closed in 1987 after 92 years of operation.

Ancestry has digitized all four of Grandfather Greene’s yearbooks, so in honor of this commencement theme, I took another peak at what those yearbooks can tell me about Grandfather’s high school years.

Freshmen Class, 1922

Grandfather Greene joined the freshmen class of Phoenix Union High School in 1922, at the age of 14 years. He is identified as Wallace Greene on the Freshmen Class Roll of the Phoenician, the school yearbook.3 A class photo is included, and I think I successfully identified Grandfather Greene–based on other photos I have seen of him–by his smile, eyes, and forehead.

William Wallace Greene -1922 Yearbook - Ancestry - web
Freshmen class photo, 1922. I have marked who I think looks most like Wallace.
Click image for a larger view.4

Sophomore Class, 1923

William Wallace Greene, 1923 Class Photo
Yearbook photo, 1923. 5

Identified as Wallace again, Grandfather is listed on the Class Roll for Sophomores in the 1923 issue of the Phoenician yearbook.6

In the 1923 edition, individual student photos were included for every class, not just seniors. However, since none of the individual photos are identified with names (except seniors), I had to again guess which one was Grandfather, based on a comparison of his features in later photos.

Wallace also belonged to an honor society that year.

William Wallace Greene , Parnassus Society
William Wallace Greene is in the top row, fourth from the right. Click image for larger view. 7

Grandfather’s senior yearbook provides information about the Parnassus Society.

 The scholarship Club, or Parnassus Society, is a club composed of about sixty students made up of the school’s scholars. To be eligible to this club one must have grades of at last two “ones” and two “twos”, or three “ones” and one “three”. The Scholarship Club was organized three years ago as a local club. It has since then gained national recognition and is now one of the most important clubs in the school. This year the Scholarship Club put on two very successful banquets and sponsored an interesting assembly.8

Junior Class, 1924

The 1924 edition of the yearbook included individual student photos just for the senior class. The junior class–Wallace’s class–has a big group photo in which the students are so tiny that I cannot even begin to try to identify Grandfather Greene.

William Wallace Greene, Junior Class Photo
Junior class photo, 1924.9

The yearbook includes a note about Grandfather under the Music Department page, indicating that he played in the band and qualified for the Coyote Emblem.10

I was not able to identify Wallace in any club or activity photos for that year, and since members were not identified by name, I could not find him by name either.

Senior Class, 1925

His senior yearbook is where I struck gold with Grandfather Greene. Despite first reviewing these yearbooks back in November, I made a new discovery last week. Which did not pop up in the initial November 2014 results, when I had searched under the proper spelling of his/our surname–Greene, with an “e” at the end. Silly me. I should know better. By failing that first time to search under all variant spellings, I missed the best information item of them all.

Right there, in the section of individual senior photos, is Grandfather’s senior photo.

But that’s not all. Right next to his photo is… his signature! The yearbook copy that Ancestry digitized was owned by someone who knew my husband’s grandfather, and had Grandfather sign the yearbook.

William Wallace Greene, 1925 Class Photo
1925 senior class photo, with his signature.11

Special mention is made about Grandfather Greene at the Coyote Club banquet on the night of 22 January 1925. “The musical program consisted of a vocal solo by Miss Methel Ingraham and a horn solo by Wallace Greene accompanied by Nell Greene.”12 Nell Greene was Grandfather’s younger sister.


  1. USGenWeb Archives, “Penny Postcards from Arizona: Maricopa County,” Penny Postcards ( : accessed 27 June 2015), sec. Phoenix.
  2. Phoenix Union High School District History,” Phoenix Union High School District ( : Accessed 25 June 2015).
  3. Phoenix Union High School (Phoenix, Arizona), Phoenician, Vol. 13 (n.p., 1922), Freshmen Class Roll sec., p. 4 (unpaginated); “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012,” ( : accessed 29 November 2014).
  4. Phoenix Union High School, Phoenician, Vol. 13, Freshmen Class Roll sec., p.3 (unpaginated).
  5. Phoenix Union High School (Phoenix, Arizona), Phoenician, Vol. 14 (n.p., 1923), Sophomores sec., p. 3 (unpaginated); “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012,” ( : accessed 29 November 2014).
  6. Phoenix Union High School, Phoenician, Vol. 14, Sophomores sec., p. 12 (unpaginated).
  7. Ibid., The Parnassus Society page (unpaginated).
  8. Phoenix Union High School (Phoenix, Arizona), Phoenician, Vol. 15 (should be 16) (n.p., 1925), pg. 103; “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012,” ( : accessed 26 June 2015).
  9. Phoenix Union High School (Phoenix, Arizona), Phoenician, Vol. 15 (n.p., 1924), The Junior Class page (unpaginated); “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012,” ( : accessed 29 November 2014).
  10. Phoenix Union High School, Phoenician, Vol. 15, Music Department page (unpaginated).
  11. Phoenix Union High School, Phoenician, Vol. 15 (should be 16), pg. 64.
  12. Ibid., pg. 182.

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