In Memoriam: Curt Huey
What memories does a man leave when he is suddenly taken from us? For the friends and family of Raymond Curtis Huey, known to us as "Curt", there are many very fond memories of a man with a great love of rhododendrons who was always there when we needed him, to help the cause of his favorite plant.
Curt served rhododendrons, the American Rhododendron Society, and the Rhododendron Species Foundation for many years. First as President of the Eugene Chapter and then as Western Vice President of the ARS. He was chairman of two national conventions hosted by the Eugene Chapter including the record breaking 1987 convention. He took an active part in both of the western regionals hosted by District 4. In 1977 he was the recipient of the Bronze Medal.
Born in Virginia in 1931, Curt moved to Oregon where in 1956 he married Beverle Goheen. In 1958 he joined the Springfield, Oregon School District as an English teacher advancing eventually to assistant superintendent. He was scheduled to retire from this position in June. His death of a heart attack came just two months prior to his retirement.
Not long after he went to work for the Springfield School District, he built a new home on a wooded acre lot which needed landscaping. He soon met Dr. Carl Phetteplace, a pioneer in rhododendrons and the ARS, who spread his love of rhododendrons to Curt. Before long Curt was collecting every species he could find. He became involved with the formation of the Rhododendron Species Foundation which he served many years as a director.
Propagating species rhododendrons held a special interest for him and one could often find him out in the yard or greenhouse transplanting his special seedlings or cuttings. He once obtained seed of R. makinoi collected in the wild. Not wanting to throw any away, he soon had flats and flats of plants which he freely distributed to all who appreciated this wonderful species. Today his garden contains mature, special selections of this species. Other plants from this group of R. makinoi are growing in gardens across the country. He was always generous with his plants and one could not visit his beautiful garden without being given a plant. His garden was always of the utmost perfection, showing the care and love he gave his plants. A ten foot specimen of R. rex was his pride and joy and is probably the finest selection of this species grown.
Yes, Curt left us memories, fond memories. He also left us improved selections of species, selections that will exist long after those of us living today are gone and forgotten. A man can make a difference in our lives, Curt did; we will miss him greatly.