Robert M. Bovee
Dugald H. Grier, M.D., Portland, Ore.
Rhododendron growers throughout the World have lost a great friend in Mr. Robert Bovee who died in June 1970. He was born in March 1899 in Chicago. He served in the Submarine Service in World War I and later was in the advertising and engraving business before discovering his true vocation.
He was instrumental in starting the plantings in the Portland Test Gardens and contributed hundreds of plants. In fact, he, Ted Hansen and John Bacher made the first plantings in the Garden. He was Chairman of the first Show held in the Gardens. He was on the Book Committee that published the 1956 publication "Rhododendrons for Your Garden." For years he was a Board Member of both the local and national American Rhododendron Societies.
He was a kindly gentleman who devoted time lavishly to amateurs encouraging them and giving them much help in the growing of rhododendrons. He was constantly searching for the better plants, ruthlessly destroying all those he considered inferior. This search led to the introduction of 'Marine', lutescens 'Berry's Bright Yellow', leucaspis 'Midget', sphaeranthum 'Rae Berry', a white form of wardii and many others. Perhaps his greatest contribution has been this unceasing search for the better plant. As Dave Leach has stated, "He had an unerring eye that was able to discriminate between the excellent and the near excellent." He is also known for many hybrids among which are the startlingly lovely 'Mary Mayo', 'Gertrude Bovee', 'Bovee's Yellow' and, more recently, his Yaku crosses. In addition to this, he developed many superior Exbury Azaleas. He will long be remembered by his friends in the Northwest and throughout the World.