Ralph Van Landingham, Jr.
Fig. 45. This rhododendron
wreath made of R. 'P.J.M.'
was sent to the Van Landingham
funeral by Dr.Herbert
A retired Charlotte stockbroker has left his house and one of the Southeast's outstanding rhododendron gardens, along with an endowment of $150,000, to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The will of Ralph Van Landingham, Jr., who died March 30, indicates his wish that the gardens be named the "Susie Harwood Gardens" in honor of his late mother, Susie Harwood Van Landingham.
In the will, Mr. Van Landingham said that it is his wish that the residence and grounds be maintained as a facility for the conduct of University or community receptions, socials and meetings, as a site for botanical research, or for such other purposes as the University administration might deem appropriate.
UNCC Chancellor D. W. Colvard in expressing gratitude and pleasure for the gift said that the University's intention is to preserve the gardens in their natural beauty. "We intend to explore the alternatives posed by the gift of the residence," he said. "In the meantime, we shall take immediate steps to memorialize his mother, Susie Harwood."
Chancellor Colvard also said that he is pleased that Mr. Van Landingham's interest in the University is making a lasting impact on the beautification of the UNCC campus. In recent years he has given approximately $7,000 for plantings in the Van Landingham Glen, a garden of native plants and hybrid rhododendron on the UNCC campus.
The Van Landingham gardens at 2010 the Plaza in Charlotte have drawn national attention from authorities on rhododendron culture. In recent years Dr. Herbert Hechenbleikner, a biology professor at UNCC, has been assisting in rhododendron culture at the gardens.
Dr. Bonnie E. Cone, a UNCC vice chancellor, Dr. Hechenbleikner and Thomas R. Payne of North Carolina National Bank were named to an advisory committee on the handling of the $150,000 trust fund to be used for maintaining the Susie Harwood Gardens and for the improvement of the Van Landingham Glen on the UNCC campus.