In Memoriam: Donald W. Paden
Jim and Janice Gerdemann
Don Paden of Urbana, Illinois, a long-time member of the Midwest and Great Rivers chapters of the American Rhododendron Society, died August 6, 2003, just two months short of his 90th birthday.
Don was a Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois. He served as the director of the Center for Economic Education there and authored An Introduction to Economic Analysis, plus many other publications. Don served as an economist for the U.S. Department of Commerce during the World War II period.
For over thirty years, however, Don's hobby was gardening. He was interested in growing ornamentals that were not commonly grown in the Midwest. He started growing rhododendrons when it was common knowledge that "they could not be grown on the Illinois prairie."
A cross made by Stan Hall grew into a lovely, hardy pink rhododendron which Don introduced and named after his wife: 'Elaine Pagel Paden'. Don also named and introduced 'Aloha', from a cross made by Dr. Phetteplace who sent seed to the ARS Seed Exchange. It is an attractive, free-flowering shrub now grown in many regions. We were surprised to see it used in landscaping in Alaska. He also registered his own hybrid 'White Felicity'.
Don also became interested in research. He set up a laboratory in his basement, improvising with ordinary household equipment. Without any training in biology or laboratory techniques he taught himself how to grow rhododendrons in tissure culture and clone them. He served on the ARS Research Committee and Editorial Committee for a number of years and was Director of District 11 for several terms. He was awarded the Bronze Medal by the Midwest Chapter.
Don will be remembered by many for his work with rhododendrons, his enthusiasm and hospitality, and for increasing the use of rhododendrons in Midwestern gardens.