Valley Forge Chapter History Project

Valley Forge Chapter Through The Years

Celebrating 40 Years of Good Gardening & Good Friends

Valley Forge Chapter Presidents

1967-1969 Charles Herbert
1969-1971 Lewis Bagoly
1971-1973 Robert R. Huber
1973-1974 Frank C. Kunze
1974-1976 Carol J. High VMD
1976-1978 John H. Topp
1978-1980 Clarence Ziegler
1980-1984 Dr. Fred S. Winter
1984-1986 Francis H. Raughley, Jr.
1986-1988 Fred S. Winter MD
1988-1990 Jim Gears
1990-1994 Eva Jackson
1994-1996 Winfield Howe
1996-2000 Robert Stamper
2000-2002 Jim Gears
2002-2005 Joan Warren
2005-2009 Bob Smetana
2009-2012 Steve Henning
2012-2017 Bob Smetana
2017-present Jerry O'Dell

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Valley Forge Bronze Medal Recipients:

Bronze MedalThe Bronze Medal was authorized by the American Rhododendron Society in 1967, the same year the Valley Forge Chapter was welcomed into the American Rhododendron Society. The Bronze Medal Award was created to recognize Society members who make outstanding contributions to a Chapter, which may include accomplishments of the recipient outside the Chapter consistent with the goals of the Society. It is the highest award an American Rhododendron Society Chapter can bestow on one of its members. The award consists of an engraved medal and a certificate citing the recipient's accomplishments. A committee of Bronze Medal recipients is responsible for nominating award recipients. Congratulations to the following members of the Valley Forge chapter who received the American Rhododendron Society Bronze Medal:

1972 Charles Herbert (from Philadelphia Chapter)        1995 Barbara Ludwig
1978 Ethel Herbert 1995 Harold Sweetman, Ph. D.
1979 Dr. Carol High 1997 Frank Brouse
1980 Clarence & Evelyn Rahn 1997 Nancy Greenwood
1981 Al & Edna Curley 1997 Ann & Winfield Howe
1982 Ross Davis, Jr. 1997 Ruth & William Miller
1983 Lloyd E. Partain (from Philadelphia Chapter) 2000 Bonie Marcus Bennett
1984 Fred S. Winter MD, & Barbara 2000 Margaret Fawcett
1986 Francis H. Raughley, Jr. 2000 William D. Perry
1987 Robert & Helene Huber 2000 W. Robert Stamper
1987 S. Reid Warren III & Joan 2001 Sylvia Green
1991 James D. Gears 2006 William Dennis
1991 Howard R. Kline 2006 Tony & Penny D'Alessandro
1992 John & Bette Gross 2006 Mary Alice Snyder
1992 Donald H. Mannion 2007 Mimi Favre
1992 Pauline Raughley 2007 Darlene & Steve Henning
1992 William & Ellen Steele 2010 Chris & Bob Smetana
1994 Eva & Noel Jackson        2016 Charlie Odenweller

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ARS & Valley Forge Chapter Milestones

As Recorded In The ARS Quarterly Bulletin and elsewhere

Some of the happier moments ...

2012 2012 Silver MedaOn May 4, at the ARS Convention in Asheville, NC, Steve Henning was presented the ARS Silver Medal Award. The award stated: "You have mastered the development of internet websites and used them effectively to inform and instruct the public about rhododendrons. Henning's Rhododendron and Azalea Pages was one of the earliest sources of on-line information. District 8 benefitted hugely from the website you developed for the 2009 Eastern Regional Conference. When a major historic azalea collection was announced for destruction, you took the initiative and created a website to focus activities to save it. Your efforts have stopped the pending destruction, helped raise monies for the continued preservation of the azaleas, and attracted U.S. Congressional support. For your outstanding contributions, the American Rhododendron Society is pleased to present the Silver Medal to Stephen M Henning." Photo shows District Director Karel Bernady (left) and ARS President Don Smart (right) presenting the award to Steve. [Return to Top]
2009 Penn's Woods166 people attended the ARS Eastern Fall Conference which was held at the Inn at Chester Springs. The theme was Rhododendrons in Penn's Woods and featured rhododendrons that were hybridized in Pennsylvania and /or introduced in Pennsylvania. Valley Forge along with the other District 8 chapters: Greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Pine Barrens, and Susquehana Valley Chapter hosted the conference. Karel Bernady was conference chairman. Joan Warren headed up the extensive plant sale which had 2,000 rhododendrons which were introduced in Pennsylvania by rhododendron greats such as Gable, Delp, Pride, Doppel, Ahern, Rhein, Minihan, and Wister. Bob Smetana organized a popular foliage show. The inspiring talks were:
  • Great Gardens of the Philadelphia Region - Adam Levine and Robert Cardillo
  • The Rhododendrons of John C. Wister: Our Legacy at Tyler Arboretum - Robert Herald
  • Rhododendrons on the Frontier: The Bartram Family, Plant Collectors and Naturalists in 18th-Century North America - Joel T. Fry
  • Rhododendrons of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country - Tom Ahern
  • Companion Plants for the Woodland Garden - Sally & John Perkins
  • The Legacy of Joe Gable - Donald W. Hyatt
The Breeders Roundtable featured memorial tributes to Hank Schannen and Joe Becales. [Return to Top]
2009 Jenkins Arboretum, the Valley Forge Chapter's home, completed the beautiful new John J. Willaman Education Center. This facility is home for the chapter's meetings, board meetings, plant sale and flower show. Harold Sweetman is Jenkins Executive Director and Valley Forge Chapter member.
2007 Valley Forge Chapter's 40th Anniversary Banquet, which was held at the St. David's Golf Club, featured Hank Schannen as speaker.  Hank reminisced and then proceeded to describe 20 improvements in rhododendron culture he would like to see in the next 20 years: 
  1. yellows
  2. fragrance
  3. reds
  4. root-rot resistance
  5. double flowers
  6. extreme hardiness
  7. new growth
  8. re-blooming
  9. foliage
  10. blotches
  1. heat/sun tolerance
  2. Yakushimanum hybrids
  3. truss size
  4. tetraploids
  5. Dexter hybrids
  6. red lepidotes
  7. Keiskei var cordifolia
  8. PJM's
  9. unusual flowers
  10. other good things
2007 Dennis MacMullan, wrote an article on rhododendron hybrids that was published in the Summer, 2007, edition of the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society. The author of several articles that have appeared in the ARS Journal, Dennis focused this time on his own hybridizing efforts, which started in the late 1960's. One of Dennis's hybrids is named for his friend and fellow Valley Forge Chapter member and hybridizer, Howard Kline. [Return to Top]
2007 33 new members joined at the plant sale which was chaired by Bill Dennis.  Under Bill's leadership, the plant sale offered 10% discounts on plant purchases to new members.  This paid off big at a time when the ARS is nationally suffering a decline in membership.
2004 ARS Convention was held at the Valley Forge Hilton, King of Prussia. Garden tours included: Tom and Barbara Ahern in Bethlehem, Frank Brouse in Norristown, Diane Burko and Richard Ryan in Point Pleasant, Chanticleer in Wayne, Cresson Family in Swarthmore, John and Holly Doppel in Lenhartsville, Jim and Kay Gears in West Chester, Win and Anne Howe in Downingtown, Robert and Helene Huber in Salford, Eva and Noel Jackson in Radnor, Jenkins Arboretum in Devon, Brian and Cathy Keim in Rydal, Howard Kline in Bernville, Longwood Gardens, the Moyer Garden in Bethlehem, Mount Cuba Center in Wilmington, Rarefind Nursery & Garden in New Jersey, Pauline and Francis Raughley in Delaware, Ralph and Elizabeth (Liz) Schumacher in Gulph Mills, Robert and Barbara Tiffany in Point Pleasant, Tyler Arboretum in Media, Fred and Barbara Winter in Pottstown, Winterthur in Delaware, and Bill Zurich in New Jersey. Speakers included: Dick Murcott, Henry (Hank) Schannen, Jim Barlup, Kenneth Cox, Bill Steele, Dr. Gary Moorman, George Woodard, Steve Kristoph, George McLellan, Paul James, Harold Sweetman, Ed Collins, Dick Gustafson, Ted Stecki and Jerry van de Sande.
2001 Dr. Harold Sweetman, Valley Forge Chapter, becomes Chairman, Research Committee: which fosters and encourages research in the rhododendron field. This committee serves as a clearinghouse to receive and evaluate research proposals. This committee works with the Rhododendron Research Foundation. [Return to Top]
2001 Wister Estate, Tyler Arboretum received $2.7 million from the estate of John and Gertrude Wister. Some of this money is designated for the restoration of the Rhododendron Collection that was planted by the Wisters fifty years ago.
1998 Jim Gears, a member and former president of the Valley Forge Chapter of ARS, received the "Stanley Murray Award for Volunteer Service" (Volunteer of the Year) Award from the Asheville, North Carolina-based Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy at their 25th Annual Meeting on June 19 at the USFS Corpening Training Center in Crossnore, NC.
1998 Jenkins Arboretum was described in the Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) newspaper, "The Morning Call," as having a rhododendron and azalea collection equivalent to Longwood Garden´s orchid collection. Credit goes to Harold Sweetman for the development and maintenance of the arboretum, to those who volunteer their time and expertise and the American Rhododendron Society Valley Forge Chapter which has donated many plants to the collection. (From "Bob´s New Branch" (the president´s message) Valley Forge Chapter Newsletter, September 1998)
1997 Hank Schannen received the ARS Gold Medal at the annual meeting in Vancouver, BC. Besides being a frequent visitor at Valley Forge meetings, Hank operates Rarefind Nursery in New Jersey and has held numerous position in the American Rhododendron Society. He is our chapter auctioneer for plant auctions. His prize hybrid, Solidarity (right), is a popular plant on the East Coast.
1991 We held our first solo Flower Show on the Conservatory Fern Floor of Longwood Gardens (previously held jointly with Philadelphia Chapter at Tyler Arboretum) on Sunday, May 12 (Mothers Day). This fabulous exhibit, with over 400 entries and educational posters, was seen (and photographed!) by thousands on Longwood's busiest day of the year. The winner of "Best in Show" was first-time exhibitor Sally Novello with 'Narcissiflora', a beautifully groomed deciduous yellow azalea, for which she received a watercolor painted by Helene Huber especially for this occasion. [Return to Top]
1988 Lehigh Valley Chapter is started. Bruce Keyser becomes their first president.
1988 Plant Sale held at Jenkins Arboretum for the first time. Previously it had been held at Tyler Arboretum and later at Valley Forge Methodist Church.
1986 Harold Sweetman becomes the Executive Director of the Jenkins Arboretum. A biologist by training, he has worked for over two decades developing Jenkins´ extensive collection of species and hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas, as well as providing a showcase for the full range of native flora. Dr. Sweetman maintains a poisonous plant collection for the purpose of student field study.
1984 A Guide for the Hungry Gardener, A collection of Favorite Recipes Plus Helpful Gardening Hints from the Members of the Valley Forge Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, was published. Barbara Winter was Chair of the Committee, Helene Huber was the artist and calligrapher, and Francis Raughley compiled the horticultural information, with focus on rhododendrons and azaleas. The impetus to the cookbook was the Bourbon Slush served by Barbara Winter whenever the Annual Meeting and Picnic or any other function was held at her and Fred's house.
1982 Gertrude S. Wister: was presented the ARS Gold Metal for her contributions as a speaker and an author and for her leadership in numerous foundations. [Return to Top]
1978 "Hybrids and Hybridizers" is published by Phil Livingston and Dr. Frank West. It features Charles Dexter, Joe Gable, Ben Morrison, Guy Nearing, Tony Shammarello and many younger hybridizer and their plants. It is dedicated to Dr. John C. Wister. "a unique record of hybridizing rhododendrons in the eastern United States. ... It is an enduring account of an American Revolution in garden rhododendrons designed to replace the mid-nineteenth century hybrids of the British" from the Introduction by David G. Leach.
1976 ARS Convention is at Valley Forge Sheraton. Valley Forge, Princeton and Philadelphia co-host. Garden tours include: Tyler Arboretum, John & Gertrude Wister's, Joe & Doris Becales', Swiss Pines, Charlie & Ethyl Herbert's, G. Dave Lewis's, Tom Koenig's, and Mrs. Luenenschloss's. The flower show was at the American Baptist Center, across the street from the hotel.
1973 Heman Howard announces names for many Dexter plants that were formerly only known by the garden where they were grown and a number. For example SW12507-12 at Swarthmore becomes Acclaim.
Test Garden at Tyler established by Philadelphia and Valley Forge Chapters. The area was about one fourth planted, by springtime with over one hundred plants. Dr. John C. Wister was the first director of Tyler Arboretum (1946-1968). The arboretum itself started in 1825 when two brothers, Jacob and Minshall Painter, set aside land to systematically plant more than 1,000 varieties of trees and shrubs. In 1944 descendant Laura Tyler bequeathed the property to be a nonprofit arboretum. In 2001 Tyler Arboretum received $2.7 million from the estate of John and Gertrude Wister. Some of this money is designated for the restoration of the Rhododendron Collection that was planted by the Wisters fifty years prior.
First Annual VF ARS Banquet, Nov 5, 1971: Having an enthusiastic membership and a healthy treasury as the result of several successful spring plant sales, the officers, and directors concluded that the chapter should hold it's first annual banquet and program. The colonial era Seven Stars Inn was chosen as the site. At seven o'clock pres Bob Huber welcomed the members and the guests. The invocation was read by Mr. Herbert. After an excellent dinner Dr. West introduced the principal speaker of the evening, Mr. Robert D. McDonald, the director of the John .J. Tyler Arboretum. Mr. McDonald is also the director of the Plant Records center of the American Horticultural Society. Lew Bagoly presented framed and newly mounted to Mr. Charles Herbert his Bronze Medal Citation. Table decorations of chrysanthemums, and several hundred rhododendrons were distributed as door prizes. An informal decision to return next year was met with approval.
1971 ARS Convention is at the Ben Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia. Garden tours included: George & Betty Arrington's, Princeton Display Garden at Hun School, Jo & Leon Heuser's Indian Run Nursery, Fred & Ernesta Ballard's, Al & Mary Martin's, George & Elizabeth Henny's, Charlie & Ethyl Herbert's, Frank & Alice West's, Jack & Gertrude Wister's and Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore, and Tyler Arboretum. Ernesta Drinker Ballard, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and Alfred S. Martin, the first Eastern Vice President of the ARS, organized the convention with the aid of the Valley Forge, Princeton and Philadelphia Chapters. The Philadelphia chapter met at The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society headquarters for many years. Mrs. Ballard was a colorful person in the history of the ARS:

Ernesta Drinker Ballard (1920-August 11, 2005) was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and a horticulturist. Ballard marched on Washington, lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment, and raised money for female political candidates. She also was a founding member of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), and served as chairwoman of the organization from 1989 to 1991. She to co-founded "Women's Way" an umbrella support group that funds a host of women's groups, including Women Organized Against Rape, The Women's Law Project, Women Against Violence. Ballard closed a successful horticultural business in 1964 to head up the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and supervise its annual extravaganza, the Philadelphia Flower Show. She expanded the flower show from four staffers to more than 100 employees.

Alfred Martin was involved with King Fifth Wheel, a Pennsylvania based manufacturer of engine parts for the aircraft industry. He had previously served as President of the Philadelphia Chapter and later became President of the ARS. [Return to Top]

1968 Bronze Medal introduced as highest award presented by a Chapter.
1967 Charlie Herbert and 15 friends found the Valley Forge Chapter, American Rhododendron Society on March 1. At the May, 1967 ARS Annual Meeting in Asheville, NC, ARS President Edward B. Dunn welcomes Valley Forge Chapter. It is the 23rd chapter. The Valley Forge chapter comes in with 16 members and 10 associate members, that is members of other chapters who desire to be affiliated with the new group also. The officers are: Pres. Charles W. Herbert, Phoenixville Pa.; Vice Pres. - Oscar F. Krebs, Norristown, Pa., and Sec.-Treas.; Mrs. Ruth Amenda, Perkiomenville, Pa.
1967 Edward W. Collins, Mr. & Mrs. Harold Greer, Henry A. Schannen, and Bruce G. Keyser join the ARS
1962 Dr. John C. Wister, Swarthmore, receives the ARS Gold Medal at its annual meeting at Winterthur. He was head of the Dexter Study Committee since its inception in 1945.
1962 Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Bagoly of Phoenixville join the American Rhododendron Society
1961 Lloyd E. Partain and Francis H. Sholomskas join the American Rhododendron Society. [Return to Top]
1959 Guy Nearing receives the Gold Medal at the International Rhododendron Conference in Portland, OR, for his furthering the hybridization and propagation of the Rhododendron genus.
1959 Ross Davis of Wayne joins the American Rhododendron Society.
1958 Dr. John C. Wister, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, received the first American Horticultural Society Liberty Hyde Bailey Great American Gardener Award for his contributions to American horticulture.
1957 Philadelphia Chapter is formed on November 11, 1957 at Morris Arboretum. It is the 12th chapter.
1953 Joe Gable receives the ARS's second Gold Medal for 30 years of accomplishments in the investigation and hybridization of the Rhododendron genus.
1952 Charles Herbert of Valley Forge joins the American Rhododendron Society.
1952 ARS presents its first Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the genus Rhododendron to ARS President Sersanous.
1951 ARS by-laws establish chapters. Seattle, California and Middle Atlantic become the first three chapters. [Return to Top]
1947 ARS publishes first issue of the American Rhododendron Society Quarterly Bulletin.
1945 On January 9, 1945 the articles of incorporation of the American Rhododendron Society were signed. All board members were from Oregon and Washington. No charter members were from Pennsylvania. The first annual meeting is held in Portland, Oregon, and featured an extensive collection of blossoming plants and cut trusses. [Return to Top]

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ARS & Valley Forge Chapter Memories

As Recorded In The ARS Quarterly Bulletin and elsewhere

Some of the sadder moments …

2012 Fred Winter – The Valley Forge Chapter of the ARS lost one of its oldest and dearest members when Fred Winter died at the age of 93, on June 21, 2012. He died at home surrounded by his wife Barbara and their family. Fred and Barbara joined this chapter in 1973, and Fred was president twice, from 1980 to 1984 and from 1986 to 1988. They received the ARS Bronze Medal from the Valley Forge Chapter in 1984. Fred was Alternate District Director from 1982 to 1985, and was an associate member of the Greater Philadelphia chapter. During his tenure as president, the chapter membership grew and programs were greatly improved. Fred encouraged member participation in meetings, Truss Shows, plant exchanges and garden tours. He opened his garden every year for tours including those from conventions, shared plants with members, and had very wide horticultural interests. In 1984, the chapter published "A Guide for the Hungry Gardener", a collection of members' recipes plus gardening hints, and Barbara was chair of the committee. The impetus for the cookbook was the Bourbon Slush served by Barbara whenever the annual picnic or any other function was held at their house. The Winter's garden is a joy to behold and very different from the property that they bought. 'It was a shambles' then, but hard work by Fred and Barbara and their sons and daughter over the years created a beautiful masterpiece. It is known as Company Farm, and has a history going back to when the nearby Schuylkill Canal was built between 1816 and 1825. Their renovated barn was used to house the barge-towing mules, and the path to and from the canal is now the rhododendron garden. The garden was selected to be included in the Archives of American Gardens, Horticulture Services Division, Smithsonian Institution, in 2002. Fred had a long and interesting life along with his career as a radiologist. He loved to sing and joined the local singing group, enjoyed opera and musical theater and would often burst into song when amongst friends. Kathy Van Veen will remember him giving her an old RCA Victor LP of Romberg's "The Student Prince" (her favorite), and then bursting into song in his Mario Lanza style. Fred cared about people and started a program to teach children about the health hazards of tobacco and other addictive substances, visiting many classrooms during his retirement. He volunteered with CARE-MEDICO and trained radiology residents in Afghanistan and Thailand. He also joined a polio group helping to immunize children in India. He was an avid skier and he and Barbara traveled extensively worldwide. As a member of the Navy Medical Corps he served in WWII and the Korean conflict. [Return to Top]

Fred Winter

2009 Clarence Rahn died on December 8, 2009 at the age of 97. His wife Evelyn had passed away in 2004.
Clarence and Evelyn Rahn became members of the Valley Forge Chapter in 1971. They had a nursery and specialized in rooting deciduous azaleas. They supplied local nurseries with their azaleas. They were very modest, but extremely generous and loved company. He was very generous with giving plants to other chapter members, especially new members, and giving sound advice on raising rhododendrons and azaleas. He also developed the Azalea Study Group at the Valley Forge Chapter. Clarence contributed to chapter plant sales, judged truss shows and was active on several committees, the board of directors, and in many chapter activities. Clarence and Evelyn were also associate members of the Pine Barrens Chapter, and helped the Greater Philadelphia Chapter to plan and put together the exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show for many years. In addition he was instrumental in establishing the Charlie Herbert Memorial Azalea Garden at Swiss Pines in Charlestown Township. They received the Bronze Medal in 1980. Their Bronze Medal stated:
"Our sincere appreciation to you, Clarence and Evelyn Rahn, for the many years of selfless service given to the Valley Forge Chapter. We are especially grateful for all of the time and effort you have given to so many of our committees and activities. We have been continually inspired by your humility and willingness to serve. Through your generosity in propagating and donating plants, you have captured the true meaning of our purpose as a plant society. For many years to come, our gardens will be beautified by the deciduous azaleas you have provided. Our chapter will be enriched far longer, however, by your dedicated example and by your enthusiasm for the genus Rhododendron."
That same year Dr. Rhein in Mechanicsburg made a cross of the rhododendrons Bellrose x Ross L. When he registered the plant in 1999, he named it "Clarence Rahn." The Rahn's eventually sold their acreage near Douglasville and moved to the Lutheran Home in Topton. They gave many of their plants to Fred and Barbara Winter who still care for the Rahn Garden located at the Winter’s home. [Return to Top]

Evelyn and Clarence

HankHenry "Hank" Schannen collapsed and died on September 16, 2009, at Rare Find Nursery, which he started in Jackson, New Jersey, in 1995. Hank Schannen joined the American Rhododendron Society in 1967. He was a long-term member of the Princeton Chapter and served on the ARS board of directors, the Princeton Chapter board of directors, and as president, Princeton Chapter. He was chairman of the ARS Research Foundation and had served on various other ARS committees. He was the recipient of the ARS Bronze Medal, and in 1997 was awarded the ARS Gold Medal. He was a board member of the Rhododendron Species Foundation and a member of the Magnolia Society, Holly Society, Hardy Plant Society, and the American Conifer Society. He was a frequent program presenter at annual ARS conventions, regional conferences, and local horticultural organizations. Hank was a renowned rhododendron expert and had that rare gift of a skilled orator and could captivate any crowd. He was the auctioneer at District 8 Cutting Exchanges and presented the programs at the Valley Forge 2007 banquet and the 2004 Uwchlan meeting of Valley Forge and Philadelphia. He traveled to gardens across the United States, especially to Pacific Northwest gardens and to Germany. An active hybridizer, Hank introduced some of his own hybrids: R. 'Hank's Mellow Yellow', R. 'Golden Globe', and R. 'Purple Elf'. His "signature" plant, R. 'Solidarity', which is widely grown in many parts of the United States and Europe. He wanted to name the plant after his mother, but she said a rhododendron with a difficult Polish name would never sell. The compromised by naming the plant Solidarity after the Polish labor union. He had 20,000 un-bloomed seedlings under evaluation. His RareFind Nursery in Jackson, New Jersey had 11 acres of rare and unusual plants and a display garden. He propagated over 1,000 rhododendrons cultivars and a similar number of unusual shrubby and perennial plants. [Return to Top]
2009 Joseph "Joe" Becales. died on March 23, 2009 after a long illness. Joe was a member of the Philadelphia Chapter and an associate member of the Valley Forge Chapter for over 35 years. In 1976, Joe and Doris opened their garden to the ARS National Convention. Doris passed away a few years ago. Joe's passion was dwarf conifers. Some of Joe's named hybrids are Amelia Becales, Antigua, Becales' Big Yellow and Fashion Plate. He had many unnamed hybrids that were available at the 2009 ARS Fall Eastern Regional Meeting. Many of these unnamed hybrids are used frequently by many hybridizers in their work.
2008 Francis "Fran" Raughley, Jr. died on July 5, 2008 at the age of 86. A life-long resident of Delaware, he pursued his career as a project engineer at DuPont, retiring in 1985. He spent his retirement pursuing his passion for gardening, having attended the Barnes Foundation Arboretum School, volunteering as a garden guide at Winterthur, and being an active member of several ARS chapters as well as day lily and holly societies. Fran faithfully brought his collection of books to sell at each meeting. He received the ARS Bronze Medal in 1986 after serving as Valley Forge Chapter president from 1984-1986.
2007 Barbara Ludwig died recently. Barbara was a long-time and loyal member, who shared her talents in numerous capacities. She served most notably as Chair of the Truss (Flower) Show Committee. In 1991, when the Chapter decided to hold the show on the Conservatory Fern Floor of Longwood Gardens on Mother’s Day, Barbara met the challenges and set up and chaired the show there until 1999. For this alone, she was a deserving recipient of the Chapter’s Bronze Medal.
2005 Margaret Fawcett, passed away May 27, 2005, after a long battle with cancer. The Valley Forge Chapter lost a good friend. She fought valiantly against the cancer that finally took her life, and two days before her last brief hospitalization she was out planting flowers.
For 15 years, Margaret actively served the chapter as a board member, program chair, membership chair, volunteer at annual plant sale fundraiser, and was always ready to take part in any chapter event. Among other activities, and along with her close companion, Frank Brouse, she attended the Southern Highlands Conservancy meetings in North Carolina, garden tour bus trips, and native plant study group.
Last November she mustered up the energy and enthusiasm to go on a two-week garden and sightseeing tour to Italy with Frank and with Tony and Penny D'Alessandro. The four close friends had a marvelous time together.
As a board member, hers was always the voice of reasonableness and encouragement. She never had an unkind word to express about another or any situation. She also had a keen sense of humor, and two months before her death, she showed off her returning hair, lost to chemo, to some of the balding men of the chapter.
Margaret was a bright and engaging woman with an untiring enthusiasm for life. She never lost that positive attitude...even at the end. We will all miss her. [by Frank Brouse]
Margaret received the Bronze Medal in 2000.
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2004 Joan and ClarenceEvelyn Rahn, On May 6, 2004, Clarence Rahn, his sister-in-law and niece went to the Jenkins Arboretum to tour the gardens and for the dedication of a special bench for his wife, Evelyn.
The photo to the right of Clarence with Joan Warren was taken on May 6, 2004, at the dedication of the Evelyn Rahn memorial bench. Margaret Fawcett took this photo.
The bench was given by the Valley Forge Chapter of the ARS in memory of Evelyn, and it has a plaque on it saying that it was donated to the arboretum by Evelyn's friends at the Valley Forge Chapter of the ARS. Clarence was really pleased to see the bench and to have lunch, though he said that Evelyn would never have expected so much. [Return to Top]
2002 Don Mannion passed away. He was a Bronze Medal recipient, active member, and Chair of 1st plant sale at Jenkins Arboretum (1988), held in parking lot.
2001 Ruth W. Davis, Valley Forge Chapter, passed away recently. A desirable rhododendron was named for her. She and her late husband, Ross, were early members of the Society. (2001)
2001 Virginia S. Jefferis, (Mrs. Raymond P. Jefferis), Greater Philadelphia Chapter, passed away recently. She was a founding member of Philadelphia Chapter. Mrs. Jefferis raised dwarf rhododendrons and donated a number of them to Longwood Gardens.
2000 Ross Davis, Valley Forge Chapter, passed away earlier this last spring (2000). He was an early and long-time member of ARS. He was a recipient of the Chapter's Bronze Medal. He was a unique individual, a consummate plantsman who could always be counted on to tell it like it is. [Return to Top]
1999 Frank Kunze, Valley Forge Chapter, passed away on February 7, 1999. He was an ARS member for over 25 years and a past President of the chapter. He was especially interested in azaleas and loved to share his experiences and knowledge.
1999 John Fawcett, Valley Forge Chapter, passed away on February 8, 1999, after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.
1999 Louise Gable, daughter of the late Joseph Gable and mother of Valley Forge member Judy Allison, passed away recently.
1999 Gertrude McMasters Smith Wister: Mar. 24, 1905-Jul. 13, 1999 Editor of National Gardener and author of numerous books. For more than 25 years, Mrs. Wister served on the board of trustees of the Tyler Arboretum in Lima, Delaware County. She also served as assistant and then acting director there from 1944 to 1977. Mrs. Wister was also assistant director of the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College from 1955 to 1960 and with her husband, John C. Wister, created Wister Garden, now part of the Scott Arboretum. John Wister passed away in 1982.
1998 Ethel M. Herbert, Valley Forge Chapter, passed away on September 25, 1998 at age 94. Her husband, Charles Herbert, was a founding member of Valley Forge Chapter. Early chapter meetings were held in the Herbert's living room. Ethel received the Bronze Medal in 1978.
1998 Albert Curley passed away. He was a Bronze Medal recipient, who, after retirement from Fed. Reserve, was the Chapter's Treasurer for some time. Both he and Edna had been very active in '70s and '80s.
1998 Betty J. Gross passed away. She was a Bronze Medal recipient, talented gardener, together with husband John, and a garden to prove it.
1997 Edna Curley passed away. She was a Bronze Medal recipient, former Chapter Corresponding Secretary and early Chapter Historian,
1996 Walter Kern: 1905 - May 29, 1996. Walter and his wife Elaine sent $20 to Edmund de Rothschild in the early 50's and requested they send him an assortment of Exbury Azalea seed. From this humble beginning, Walter expanded from his Exbury seedlings to his own hybrids. Walter and his wife Elaine are founding members of both the Philadelphia Chapter and the Valley Forge Chapter. Walter received the ARS Bronze Medal.
1990 Lloyd E. Partain: 1909 - Mar. 10, 1990. Lloyd was a charter member of the Philadelphia chapter and active in the Valley Forge and Potomac Valley Chapters. A native of Arkansas, a soil and plant scientist, Lloyd was instrumental in introducing the Glenn Dale azaleas. He received many metals including the Bronze and Silver Medals of the ARS. [Return to Top]
1986 Guy Nearing: January 22, 1890 - March 19, 1986. He was a brilliant student and star athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. He almost went blind and contracted tuberculosis. After a career in advertising he established himself as a nurseryman. Nearing invented the Nearing Frame and created the rhododendron hybrids Ramapo, Purple Gem, Windbeam, Wyanokie, Brandywine, Chesapeake, Delaware, Hockessin, Lenape and Montchanin in his Ridgewood, NJ. He received the ARS Gold Medal in 1959.
1986 G. Albert Reid 1911 - February 17, 1986. While Al was working for Fischer's Greenhouses, he decided to hybridize the beautiful greenhouse azaleas for hardiness. He created the Linwood Hardy Azaleas, in Linwood, NJ. He registered over 50 varieties of Linwood Hardy Azaleas, all double, semi-double, or hose-in-hose. He eliminated all azaleas that were single.
1983 Orlando S. Pride: 1905 - October 25, 1983. Lanny Pride of Butler, PA hybridized many hardy azaleas, rhododendrons and hollies. His greatest achievement was breeding evergreen azaleas that would survive in NW Pennsylvania. The best knows are Marjorie, Nadine, Vicky and Mary Holman. They survived a winter with temperature down to -30F. Some of his super hardy rhododendrons are Blazen Sun, Charles Robinson, and Cloud 12. His super hardy deciduous azaleas include Pink Peppermint, Yellow Bird, and Coral Queen. Not many are in the commercial trade. He received the ARS Gold Medal in 1979.
1982 Dr. John Caspar Wister: 1887-December 27, 1982. He was a member of a prominent Philadelphia area family, which included the 18th century physician Caspar Wister, after whom the wisteria was named. After graduating from Harvard in 1909, Dr. Wister had made major contributions with rhododendrons, roses, peonies, daylilies, iris, lilacs, daffodils, magnolias and many others. Dr. Wister had received gold medals from the Mass. Hort. Society, Garden Club of America, American Daffodil Society, and American Rhododendron Society. He served as director of the Scott Foundation at Swarthmore University and Tyler Arboretum. At age 66 he began a rhododendron-hybridizing program to create July blooming rhododendrons. Dr. Wister and his wife Gertrude were the first husband and wife to both receive Gold Metals from the ARS.
1982 Tony Shammarello: 1903 - October 10, 1982. After a devastating winter at his Ohio nursery, Tony began hybridizing very winter hardy, compact rhododendrons. Tony produced 29 such plants ranging from Besse Howells, Holden, Lavender Queen, Rocket, Sham's Candy, Spring Parade, Yaku Angel, Yaku King, Yaku Prince, Yaku Princess, and Yaku Queen. He received the ARS Gold Medal in 1973.
1978 Charles Herbert: Feb. 12, 1901-Nov. 26,1978 A founder of both the Philadelphia Chapter and Valley Forge Chapter. See Charlie's Obituary
Joe Gable: 1886-July 20, 1972. Joe started his long relationship with rhododendrons after returning from England after World War I. He subscribed to the 1923 Rock Expedition being organized by Arnold Arboretum. In return he received many packets of seed Dr. Rock found in China. The best plant was R. vernicosum but it was very slow to bloom. Joe hybridized native plants with his Chinese species and came up with many hybrids still in the trade including: Albert Close, Atrier, Annie Dalton, Atroflo, Beaufort, Bosutch, Cadis, Caroline, Catagla, Catfortcampy, Conemaugh, Conewago, Conewago Improved, Conestoga, County of York, David Gable, Disca, Dr. Rock, Frazzles, Freckles, Gretchen, Haag's Choice, Henry Yates, Katherine Dalton, Kentucky Cardinal, Ladifor, Madfort, Mary Belle, Maxhaem Yellow, Milo, Moon Shot, Pink Twins, Pioneer, Robert Allison, Red Sox, Sir James, Skylark, Strawberry Swirl, Tom Thumb, and Vernicosum. He received the ARS Gold Medal in 1953. His daughter Mary Caroline Gable carried on the family nursery until her death in February of 1998. The family nursery in Stewartstown, PA no longer exists.

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Thank you to Sonja Nelson and the American Rhododendron Society for permission to use information from ARS Quarterly Bulletins.

Thank you to Laura Grant for researching the original records of the club in ARS archives.

Thank you to Tadeusz Dauksza for searching his archives of ARS bulletins for early information on the Valley Forge chapter and its founders.

Thank you to Eva Jackson for contributing information from the Valley Forge newsletter.

Thank you to Ted Stecki and Karel Bernady for contributing information on Charlie Herbert and the early years of the Valley Forge Chapter.

Thank you to Win Howe for contributing the list of Bronze Medal recipients and flower show records.

Thank you to Joan Warren for contributing the report of the Rhododendron Study Group and information on Chapter members.

Thank you to Helene Huber who drew the botanic sketches over the years.

Thank you to Bud Gehnrich, Dr. R. Gustafson, Randell Jesup, Sally Perkins, Jim Willhite, & Steve Henning for contributing pictures.

Thank you to Dr. Homer E. Salley and Harold Greer for compiling the pedigree of the hybrids made by the Valley Forge founders.

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