C. I. Sersanous, 1883-1958
Fig. 35. C. I. Sersanous, 1883-1958
Most members of the Society are at this time aware of the passing of the President in early July. His numerous civic, state and National achievements have been recorded in the daily news accounts, newspaper editorials, and on the air during the last few weeks. They will not be repeated here in this short last summary, but those wonderful kindly acts relating to the American Rhododendron Society that many of the members are not aware of will be published herewith.
C. I. Sersanous was elected President in January 1949 and to quote from the minutes of February 24 meeting of that year as published in the Bulletin* "Mr. Sersanous gave a brief talk on his past business experiences which made all realize more than ever how very fortunate we are in having so fine a business man at the head of our organization for the next two years." Those next "two years" carried on for almost ten years, and this period saw the Society grow into a truly national structure under his leadership.
Fig. 36. The late president, C. I. Sersanous (left) and C. P. Keiser supervise
the moving of one of the first rhododendrons, R. 'Cynthia', to the
new test garden, October 22, 1950.
The name C. I. Sersanous will ever be associated with the Society Test Garden at Crystal Springs in Portland, Oregon. He worked tirelessly in its founding, and gave large gifts of money to the Test Garden Fund. Never in all the years did he mention or want mentioned that he had contributed over $17,000 to the garden. In publishing the yearly financial report where the gifts were evident he had asked me as editor that it was not necessary to mention the name of the donor.
When the bronze dedicatory marker was uncovered opening the Test Garden in May 1951 by the mayor of Portland, the Hon. Dorothy Lee, the President remarked in his address, "This garden will in due time become the outstanding rhododendron garden in the United States." The eight years that followed that day saw the garden progress to world renown. Credit must be give to the many donors and members, and the Test Garden Committee, but always in the background was the dignified, kindly leadership of the president. He visited the garden many times the year around, and it is the opinion of many that he purchased a magnificent home only two blocks from the garden to be nearer to it.
The Society honored Mr. Sersanous by awarding him the first of the newly adopted Society Gold Medals in 1952.
While the garden was in the process of being built he made outright donations of $12,000 in cash to the Test Garden fund. This sum did not include the many plants and supplies that he purchased and donated during the years. His last act for the Society was to bequeath $5,000 to the Garden Fund in his last will.
*A.R.S. Quarterly Bulletin, April 1949, Vol. 3, No. 2