In Memoriam: Charles McNew
The ARS lost one of its long-time supporters and rhododendron enthusiasts when Charles (Charlie) McNew passed away on Feb. 1, 1997. Charlie and his wife, Viola, maintained a wonderful rhododendron collection in the Mt. Brynion area of Kelso in southwest Washington but in the last few years, owing to failing health and advancing years, had to move to a retirement home where they still managed to keep the genus Rhododendron as a major part of their lives and kept membership in the Portland Chapter.
Charlie was a jovial, energetic man whose eyes sparkled and his personality bubbled as he talked about his beloved plants and garden. He managed to be philosophic about the occasional visits of errant elk which would pass through his garden on forays from the timbered area to the west of his home site. He mentioned several times that he had come to a condition of "peaceful co-existence" with the elk.
Charlie had a fine species collection and grew many hybrids. He named two of the latter, a fine dark green foliaged plant he called 'Red Paint' and a good yellow he called 'Goldendale'. He was an early admirer of the species R. yakushimanum and made a cross of this species with R. elliottii 'War Paint'. One plant of this cross has a lot of merit and may soon be registered as 'Charlie McNew'.
He spent many hours working in the Portland Chapter's Crystal Springs Garden and played a major role in repairing the damage to the garden caused by the infamous Columbus Day storm of 1962. Owing to the fact that he lived to the age of 95 years, it is apparent that life with rhododendrons agreed with him. He will surely be missed and will be long remembered.