George D. Grace 1897 - 1974
Milton Foland, Portland, Oregon
George D. Grace, one of the small group of men whose efforts and planning during the early Years of World War II laid the groundwork for the organization of the American Rhododendron Society, died in Portland, March 23, 1974.
He made up half the two-man team that traveled continuously on weekends in late 1942 and all through 1943 from Eugene, Oregon to Seattle and many nearby Puget Sound communities seeking counsel and help in planning a society devoted to the genus rhododendron. The other half of that traveling team was John Henny, president of the American Rhododendron Society for many years.
A builder of fine homes in the Portland area most of his life, George Grace gave liberally of his well-developed business talents, energy and zeal to help build the A.R.S. into the truly outstanding plant society that it has become.
One of the three signers of the A.R.S. articles of incorporation in 1945, George Grace served as its first secretary and continued in that national office for a number of years. He obtained virtually all the articles and photographs for the first four A.R.S. Yearbooks and assembled that material for the printers and binders - a truly tremendous task at that time.
During the same period he headed two groups of rhododendron species enthusiasts in sponsoring two plant expeditions in Asia. These were collecting trips of F. Kingdon-Ward and Joseph Rock. Grace was the principal financial supporter of the Rock expedition.
The collection of rhododendron hybrids and species in the large area surrounding the Grace residence served as a living example of his deep interest. More than 30 years ago, giant Loderis were in bloom stopping and attracting visitors who were always warmly welcomed and were asked to tour the garden. These Loderis are an indication of how many Years earlier rhododendrons had claimed his interest.
It was from this collection during the forties and fifties that rhododendron shows in the Portland area had entries from George Grace in nearly all the major classes. In the 1948 show, blooms from the Grace collection took 14 first place awards out of 40 classes and the gold cup for the best trusses. The name of George Grace showed up nearly as frequently in the Seattle shows as well.
It was also from this same rhododendron collection that hundreds of Pacific Northwest rhododendron hobbyists were given generous quantities of cuttings and young plants. It is safe to say that at least a dozen rhododendron nurseries in Oregon and Washington obtained many of their first cuttings from plants in the Grace collection. This interest in nurseries also developed in another direct nursery affiliation. At the time of his death he had been president and partner in West Oregon Nursery for 23 years.
On May 13, 1961 at the International Rhododendron Conference held in Portland Oregon, the American Rhododendron Society presented George Grace its highest award, the A.R.S. GOLD MEDAL.
His hundreds of rhododendron friends will miss him greatly.