Halfdan Lem, 1886-1969
Donald B. McClure, Seattle, Washington
"Lem" as he was known to every one, was a native of Nordfjord, Norway, and came to the United States in 1911. He entered the fishing industry in Alaska where he and his wife, Anna, lived until 1934, when they moved to Seattle.
Mr. Lem first learned about rhododendrons from a magazine he read aboard his fishing trawler. Eventually he spent all his spare time at sea reading about the shrubs which were to become his chief interest, and he even raised seedling plants in his boat.
When the Lems settled in Seattle, he entered the nursery business and began hybridizing rhododendrons. His own efforts developed many outstanding new plants. During the Second World War, he was entrusted with the seed of many crosses made in England, and through his efforts, progeny of these were preserved. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Rhododendron Society, which he considered perhaps his proudest achievement.
Examples of plants which he originated, and which are now well known garden plants are 'Lem's Cameo', 'Lem's Goal', 'Anna' and 'Replet', to name a few.
Even during his long illness Lem continued making crosses, and warmly welcomed visiting friends, often with great effort. His death on May 12, 1969, brought a sense of loss to the many friends, acquaintances and rhododendron enthusiasts who knew him in Seattle, the Northwest, and, by correspondence, throughout the country. Those who are fortunate enough to have some of his plants in their gardens will always remember friendly, generous Lem, and his dedication to rhododendron culture.