In Memoriam: Molly Smith
Mary "Molly" Latimer (Beaty) Smith died November 3, 2007, at the age of 93. Molly and her husband, Cecil, were the founders and developers of what has become the internationally renowned Cecil and Molly Smith Garden.
Molly was born in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She and Cecil were married in 1941 -one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
They started collecting rhododendrons in the late '40s at their old house that was adjacent to the Newberg garden property. Cecil was an early member of the American Rhododendron Society in 1947, several years before he owned the garden site. In 1951 they had obtained their garden property, finished their new house and started the garden. The area had been logged in 1915, but by 1951 had reestablished its growth of Douglas fir and native plants. Several Loderi rhododendrons planted near the house were among Molly's favorites. Cecil pruned the large-growing rhododendrons into the present-day tree-like forms.
"Although never taking much credit for the garden", Molly Smith contributed through the years in the garden upkeep and maintenance. When the Smiths lived at the garden, they freely shared their garden with others and hosted many garden tours. No one interested in rhododendrons was denied a visit in the garden. Cecil and Molly each received ARS Bronze Medals, Portland Chapter's highest award. Molly humorously commented that "no one had ever received a Bronze Medal for baking cookies." Molly was always the gracious hostess, welcoming her guests to her home with freshly baked cookies and to the garden.
In 1983, after more than thirty years of devoted stewardship, Cecil and Molly Smith reached a point in their lives where they could no longer care for the garden. The Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society found itself in a position to purchase the garden property after Cecil and Molly Smith made it possible by selling their land to the ARS at half of its appraised value. The Portland Chapter along with the help of Willamette and Tualatin Valley chapters assumed its care and management."
After Cecil died, Molly continued to visit the garden on the Monday Morning Workdays and Open Garden Days and she always brought the crew cookies. She enjoyed helping in the garden and continued as long as her health permitted.
Her two sons survive Molly: Allan and Sid; along with three grandchildren, Sheri, Tiffany and Nicole; plus two great-grandchildren, Sydney and Asher.