In Memoriam: John Druecker
Fort Bragg, California
John Druecker, a founding member of the Noyo Chapter and distinguished nurseryman, died in December, 1988 at age 80 at the Mendocino Coast Hospital, Fort Bragg, California after a brief illness.
John was born in Wisconsin and moved to California in the early 1930's to attend Cal Tech College in Pasadena. Jobs were not plentiful for graduates, so he sought work at the Coolidge Rare Plant Gardens in Altadena. While there, John had the opportunity to become acquainted with fellow employees, many of whom, including John, were later to become outstanding horticulturists.
By 1936, John and his wife, Helen, moved to the north coast of California seeking work at another famous nursery, the Cottage Gardens Nursery of Eureka. However, he settled in Fort Bragg. John brought with him a collection of azalea plants. He often recited the story that he did not pay cash for the plants; rather, they were given to him by the Coolidge firm in "lieu of salary". This was a common practice during the desperate depression years. It is a credit to John and Helen that with this limited capital they were able to establish themselves in one of the most remote areas of the state, build a home and engage in a lifetime work of growing, plant breeding and plant exploration.
During the years of WWII, John served in the Army Medical Corps as a Master Sergeant. His overseas service was in the Pacific Theater. He gained a certain notoriety amongst plant loving service people as the Sergeant who landscaped the base hospital on bleak Tinian Island using native material. John was also credited for designing a still on the island which was likewise much appreciated. After five years service, he was released and returned to Fort Bragg. Helen had maintained his plant collection during this time. His interest turned to rhododendrons and he collected them from international sources. His plant breeding was extensive. He is credited with the following varieties: 'Helen Druecker', 'Jim Drewry', 'George Ritter', 'Stacia', 'Lucy's Good Pink', 'Fort Bragg Glow', 'Pomo Princess'.
At the time of his death, John was serving as an active member of the Noyo Chapter board of directors, as a member of the board of directors of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and was involved in additional community activities. John had recently been awarded the Bronze Medal by the Noyo Chapter. He leaves his wife, Helen.