Middle Atlantic Chapter Marks 50th Anniversary
Kenneth McDonald, Jr.
The Middle Atlantic Chapter met at The Mimslyn Inn, Luray, Virginia, on May 3, 4, and 5, 2002, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, its first meeting having been held on March 23–25, 1952, at the Commonwealth Club in Richmond, Virginia. One hundred and six people were in attendance at the 50th celebration.
The weekend began with a presentation on Friday night by a former park ranger, Bob Johnson, who was born on land that was later to become part of the Shenandoah National Park. Mr. Johnson related the human side of the creation of the Shenandoah National Park. The weekend proceeded on a positive note from this unique beginning.
A Saturday morning garden tour through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains included Katherine Stark and Richard Clark Bull's mountainside retreat, Killermont, Long Mountain Nursery, and lunch at Evergreen, John and Judy Tole's home and nursery.
New ARS Silver Medal recipient, Don Hyatt, and members of the family of Gold Medal recipient, the late Austin Kennell, were recognized.
To commemorate the chapter's history, the University of Virginia Library was presented with a plaque which read: "The University of Virginia Library, Official Repository American Rhododendron Society and Middle Atlantic Chapter Documents." This recognizes that these records have a permanent home and place in history.
A Certificate of Appreciation was also presented which recognized the above facts and many of the library staff and ARS members who helped secure this repository. University Librarian and Middle Atlantic Chapter member Kendon Stubbs received the Bronze Medal for his efforts for the library, the chapter, and ARS.
Kendon Stubbs receives the Bronze Medal at MAC's
50th Anniversary celebration. Pictured are Jeanne Hammer,
Kendon Stubbs, Frank Pelurie and Kenneth McDonald, Jr.
Photo by Sandra McDonald
The Saturday night program, "This Is Your Life, MAC", prepared by Judy Tole and Jeanne Hammer, was a nostalgic history of MAC, highlighted with a PowerPoint presentation of photos depicting each decade. Some photos from the library archives as well as many photos from a handful of long-time chapter members (Sandra and Ken McDonald, Elmer Lapsley, the Kennell family, and Walter Przypek) were put together to make up this program. The program was given in 10-year segments of history and remembrances starting with Vice President Jeanne Hammer who had read through much of the MAC archives at the library in order to do the earlier years, Ray Doggett who did the 1960s, Ken and Sandra McDonald who did 1972-1982, Debby and David Sauer who did the 1980s which included a video tape interview with charter member A. J. 'Bert' Shoosmith, now deceased, and the current decade by President Frank Pelurie.
Many older members and Bronze Medal recipients were recognized or mentioned and/or pictured, including founders Thomas and Gladys Wheeldon, Henry Skinner, Mavis Haywood, D. D. Withers, Helen and Kenneth McDonald, Sr., and Austin and Betty Kennell. Mr. "MAC" was symbolized by Harry Wise. A book of honors awarded to chapter members and associates over the years as well as other historical documents for the University of Virginia Library collection were available for viewing.
Table favors for the dinner celebration were a printed program and decorative tiles, hand-painted with a rhododendron copied from the 1963 MAC program and dated to commemorate the occasion by Judy Tole. Live piano music by Leslie Nichols was a pleasant background for the dinner and two large 50th anniversary cakes with a rhododendron on them were the special dessert.
Other 50th history making activities were a time capsule which was available as a depository for MAC memorabilia and a banner to be signed by all.
A special plant sale of Delp rhododendrons acquired by Frank Pelurie and Paul James concluded a very successful meeting. The usual MAC Seedling Sale to raise funds for the ARS Research Foundation, a book sale, plant auction, and hospitality room were also highlights of the weekend. The large turnout of old and new members made this meeting a friendly and memorable event.