In Memoriam: Robert Schill
Locust Valley, New York
In early January, the New York Chapter was deeply saddened by the sudden death of our long-time member and friend, Bob Schill. Bob, who joined the ARS in 1960 and was a Life Member, served on our Board at the time of his death. A quiet, gentle man, Bob was always the first to volunteer for whatever the Chapter needed. Each autumn he supervised the installation of our garden at the Planting Fields Fall Flower Show—few people may have realized this, perhaps thinking that the lovely gardens appeared by magic! He then had the thankless job of cajoling members into volunteering to staff the information desk. In recent years Bob even made the coffee for our monthly meetings. He arranged for the judges for flower shows, and helped in many other behind-the-scenes ways.
Bob was an active hybridizer, and a regular contributor to the Chapter Seed Exchange. His special interest was to find the perfect, hardy yellow—which has been the somewhat elusive goal of many Long Island growers. His friend, hybridizer Jack Rosenthal, provided good West Coast pollen, and he obtained other pollen from George Woodard at the Phipps garden, and from Planting Fields. I have met Bob collecting pollen from Phipps #32 and from the Hardgrove yellows. It would be impossible to list his crosses at any length, but here is a sampling, to show his direction: 'Evening Glow' x Hardgrove deep yellow, Hardgrove deep yellow x ('Whitney's Orange' x 'Golden Star'), ('Lackamas Gold' x yak F.C.C.) x Phipps #32, and 'Donna Hardgrove' x Planting Fields cream-colored R. fortunei.
Bob's own garden was a small city plot, so he could not raise very many of his own seedlings. However, in the future some other grower may find that "perfect yellow," as a legacy from him. A few of his crosses have already been registered, by others.
Bob was an earnest student, and must have read everything published about rhododendrons. Planting Fields has a horticultural library, with a good collection of both books and periodicals; for years I would find Bob there every Wednesday afternoon. When the library closed, at 3 p.m., we often walked across the lawn to the species beds, to see what was happening. Jack Rosenthal tells me Bob also made extensive use of the botanical library at Queens College.
Bob retired some years ago from his job as an employee of the City of New York, and after that he devoted most of his time to rhododendrons. There were other enthusiasms, too — he shared an interest in birding with his wife, Betty, and was an ardent surfer. It was while surfing, off Long Beach on the South Shore of Long Island, that he had the accident which cost him his life. We can remember that he died, suddenly, doing something he loved.
Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife Betty, our Chapter's corresponding secretary. Bob always spoke fondly of "our club," not "our chapter": his club will miss him very much.