In Memoriam: Emil V. Bohnel
John E. Boeggeman
West Nyack, New York
Emil Bohnel, a long time member, died on November 29, 1986 after a long illness. His wife Emma, also known to many in the American Rhododendron Society, died a few days later. Emil was a biological chemist. He had a distinguished career with the Rockefeller Foundation before going to serve many years with Lederle Laboratories in research. Some of his achievements are recorded in the pages of scientific history.
Not long after the formation of the Tappan Zee Chapter, Emil became a member. He served as President and led many important committees. The Flower Show was one of his favorite activities and while he exhibited, Emil was more interested in encouraging others to exhibit, particularly the newer members. The Bronze Medal was awarded for his service to the Chapter in 1978.
It may be that Emil is to be remembered most for his contributions to the ARS Seed Exchange and the Pollen Exchange. A dedicated contributor of seeds, many of his crosses are being successfully grown throughout the country. Two of his crosses won the Seed Exchange award for best seedling in a show. Another seedling has been registered as 'Sappho's Choice'.
As a student of Guy Nearing's, with whom he worked for many years preserving and continuing the Nearing Plants, Emil performed important service. He opened new areas and was always generous in sharing seeds, pollen and plants.
Although a wheelchair person at home for the last three years of his life, Emil continued his work with rhododendrons. With a tamp and some paths, he collected the pollen, made the crosses and collected the seeds. Although his wife Emma assisted, Emil enjoyed making the crosses himself. Some of his seeds made in this fashion are in the 1987 ARS Seed Exchange list.
The spirit of dedication exhibited by Emil Bohnel is a memorable example of the motto of our Society.