Willie Greenwood enjoyed a 47-year career as a basketball official and a 32-year spell as a football referee. A longtime member of the Windsor Baseball Scorers Association, he devoted his time to officiating, coaching, and scoring games in several sports for decades.
Greenwood was born in Windsor on June 11, 1929. He attended Dougall Avenue Elementary School, where he played on a City Championship basketball team.
In 1949, Greenwood took up refereeing at the urging of Joe Mencel, his basketball coach at Patterson Collegiate and a referee himself. He was assigned a Junior and Senior Boys’ basketball doubleheader at Belle River High School through the Windsor and District Baskeball Referees Association (WDBRA). He didn’t own a car, so he hitchhiked out to Belle River.
At Patterson Collegiate, which he attended from 1944 to ’49, Greenwood was a two-time Second Team All-City selection in basketball and football. He won the WSSA Basketball Championship in ’46-47, ’47-48, and ’48-49. In the first two title-winning seasons, Patterson went on to also win the OFSAA All-Ontario title, defeating Toronto Runnymede and Ottawa Glebe respectively. Greenwood also played quarterback for Patterson. His Panthers were WSSA finalists in his last two years.
Greenwood was also a successful track and field and soccer athlete. He was a WSSA and WOSSA champion in the mile and the half-mile, and he once ran a 4.42 mile. In soccer, Greenwood scored two goals in the title decider as Patterson won the 1947-48 WSSA Championship.
At the postsecondary level, Greenwood enrolled at Assumption College in September of 1949 and joined the football team. That season, his Assumption team lost to the Hamilton Wildcats 16-6 in the Junior Ontario Rugby Football Union finals. His teammates included future CFL standouts Bob Simpson, Gino Fracas, Bruno Bitkowski, and Ray Truant. During his time at Assumption, Greenwood played the outfield for Capital Recreation in the Windsor Frat Softball League from 1947 to ’49.
Outside of school, Greenwood played basketball for the 1949-50 City Champion Windsor “Y” Intermediate “A” team. Between 1952 and ’55, he played for the Bachelor Shop Intermediate “A” team. Later, he lost to Kitchener in the Ontario Intermediate “A” finals with the Windsor and District Champion Len Kane’s Men’s Wear team. He also suited up for the Central United team in the Windsor Church League between 1956 and ’58, winning one city title.
In baseball, Greenwood was Player/Manager for Local 240 in the Civic League from 1957 and ’60. A catcher, he won one League Championship with the team following an undefeated season.
While Greenwood was a strong athlete, he is here honoured for his career as an official. Most impressively, his basketball officiating career lasted from 1949 to ’96, spanning 47 years. One of Windsor’s most prominent officials, he worked numerous WSSA Senior Boys’ Championship Games, including 15 consecutive finals from 1960 to ’75. He also refereed many WOSSA and OFSAA All-Ontario games.
Greenwood memorably worked the 1969 Canadian Senior Men’s Final, which was contested in Windsor between the Windsor Alumni and Vancouver White Spots. He also officiated the Harlem Globetrotters during one of their Windsor appearances.
Greenwood belonged to the Ontario University Athletic Association (OUAA) Referees Panel from 1960 to ’75. For an 18-year period, he was also Assigning Secretary for the Windsor and District Basketball Referees’ Association (WDBRA) for all elementary, high school, college, university, and recreational leagues in Windsor and Essex County.
From 1960 to ’80, Greenwood organized the “Biddy Basketball” program for the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Greenwood also enjoyed a 32-year career as a football referee. After replying to a Windsor and District Football Referees’ Association (WDFRA) notice in the Windsor Star, he went on to officiate games in Windsor and Essex County from 1959 to ’91. Greenwood started as a line judge but quickly worked his way up to Head Referee. In this role, he worked five Windsor League Championships and five Essex County League Championships at the high school level. He also officiated OUAA games from 1965 to ’77.
Greenwood was also an active contributor to the Windsor Baseball Scorers Association, for which he scored baseball and softball games in local leagues from 1950 to ’70. Greenwood worked seven days a week from May to September and would travel to the Windsor Star offices after each to submit game highlights and statistics to the Sports Department.
Greenwood also coached. In 1972, he led the South Windsor Minor Baseball Juveniles to the All-Ontario Championship.
Greenwood garnered many community honours for his impressive work. He won awards from the Windsor and Essex County High School Associations, the Windsor and District Basketball Referees Association, the University of Windsor, and the Windsor Masters Basketball Tournament. He is a lifetime member of the Windsor and District Basketball and Football Referees Associations, and the OUAA Referees Association. In 1995, he won the St. Clair College “Saints” Booster Club Man-of-the-Year Award.
Professionally, Greenwood was a teacher. After a decade of unrelated work, he enrolled in Teachers’ College at the University of Windsor in 1961. He went on to teach at the Elementary and High School levels until his retirement in 1993.