Ben F. Nelson
Herbert G. Ihrig, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Fig. 5. Ben F. Nelson in his garden.
Photo by Mrs. E. Loy
The death of Ben Nelson is a great loss not only to The American Rhododendron Society but to a host of friends in many walks of life. One of the most knowledgeable of rhododendron growers, he shared his information freely with friends as well as members of the Society and many of us are greatly indebted to him for his help. He was a co-founder of the Society's Seattle study group and his contributions there will be missed and long remembered. The fact that the silver trophies - the Nelson Challenge Cup, a perpetual trophy given to the best species seedling grown from seed by an exhibitor; The Josie Nelson Fortunei Award (perpetual) for the best species or hybrid truss in the Fortunei Series - have been given in his and Mrs. Nelson's honor is, in part, an expression of the appreciation felt among the group.
The Society's gold medal award in 1966 was never more deserved. But great as was his knowledge in this field of horticulture it was Ben the man, the friend, the scholarly gentleman whom we cherished most. He could quote history, poetry and anecdote with the most learned and yet was unpretentious, straightforward, considerate and kindly to the uninformed.
In his profession he held the respect and admiration of many judges and the legal profession. His wife Josie who passed away several years ago was a great help to him and equally interested in rhododendron culture. She made many crosses on her own and a collection of these are now in the American Rhododendron Society's Test Garden at Portland.
Survivors are a son, Philip A. Nelson, two daughters, Mrs. Jeanne E. Loy and Mrs. Celia A. Anderson and six grandchildren.