Endre Ostbo, 1888-1958
Fig. 25 Endre Ostbo
On May 16th, Endre Ostbo, after completing his work as one of the judges at the Seattle Chapter's Rhododendron Show, suddenly collapsed from a heart attack and passed on to the Great Beyond. Mr. Ostbo was a Charter Member of the American Rhododendron Society and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society on October 2, 1957, for meritorious horticultural achievement.
Born in Norway, February 9, 1888, he came to the United States from Surna in 1912. His first home was in Minneapolis, after which he moved to Conrad, Montana, and homesteaded there. He was a veteran of World War I and after the close of the War, he moved further west to Everett, Washington, where in 1920 he was married to Benna Klubiness.
During his residence in Everett, came his first experience in horticulture, entering the employ of James Clapp as head gardener. In 1927 Mr. Clapp acquired a large estate in Medina, Washington, and moved there. It was at Medina that Endre Ostbo became interested in rhododendrons, specializing in dwarf varieties. In 1937 he left the employ of Mr. Clapp and founded his own nursery business.
Mr. Ostbo was one of our leading rhododendron hybridists on the Pacific Coast. Some of his important hybrids consist of 'Mrs. Donald Graham', 'King of Shrubs', P. A., Lily #3, 'Phyllis Ballard' P.A., and many others too numerous to mention. It suffices to say he supported horticultural activities in the Seattle area with the greatest energy and generosity since 1937.
To Endre Ostbo we owe much. It is planned to reserve, as a memorial, a place in the Portland Test Garden for more of his crosses particularly as many more of his recent hybrids are yet to bloom.
He leaves behind him, his widow, his son, and a great host of friends, to mourn his loss in the passing of a man who has done much in his contributions to the genus Rhododendron.
- C. I. Sersanous, President
On a bright May morning, while working with the plants he loved, one of the Society's most devoted members was taken, quietly and quickly, by death. Endre Ostbo, a charter member, recipient of the American Rhododendron Society Gold Medal, came to the end of his eminently successful career even as the officials were preparing to judge the 1958 Seattle Rhododendron Show.
Most of the fine gardens in the Seattle area contain evidence of the Ostbo creative genius. He worked extensively, too, with Kalmia which has resulted in greatly increased use and enjoyment of this lovely native of the eastern mountain. His greenhouse contained many orchids and he was keenly interested in these exotics. However, he was best known for his work with rhododendrons and the name of Endre Ostbo is forever tied-in with the history and development of this genus in the Northwest.
He was an outstanding hybridist and introduced many fine new plants. Always striving for new beauty and vigor, he aimed particularly at extending the blooming period of rhododendrons. Thanks to his efforts and wise selection, we now have fresh colors and beauty in the garden after the full flush of mid-season has passed.
An enthusiastic and loyal member of the Society, he was most generous with his material and time. The Test Garden in Portland, the University of Washington Arboretum, the Tacoma Garden and others, have received numerous gifts of plants. Hardly a meeting of the Seattle Chapter was held without Endre Ostbo in attendance and some of his blooms on the table. He took a keen interest in every Seattle show, providing displays and exhibits of the highest quality, as well as advice and assistance to the committees.
A shy, kindly man he always had time to help anyone really interested in rhododendrons and those who visited him at his nursery knew his generosity, personally, and were captivated by his enthusiasm in his work.
Endre Ostbo will be greatly missed by the Society and his many friends. His contributions were much greater than most men are permitted to make and his legacy of new varieties of rhododendrons will carry his name and memory through many generations. By creating new beauty for all the world to enjoy and by enriching the lives of many with his knowledge and kindness he accomplished what so many men strive for and few achieve - a truly successful life.
- Edward B. Dunn, Seattle, Wash.