QBARS - v29n2 In Memoriam Paul D. Vossberg

In Memoriam Paul D. Vossberg, 1896 -1974
Gordon Jones, Oyster Bay, L. I., New York

Paul D. Vossberg
Paul D. Vossberg

To his many friends and acquaintances in the Northeast, who now grow and admire the beautiful rhododendron varieties, 'Scintillation', 'Westbury', 'Wheatley', 'Brookville', 'Meadowbrook', 'Roslyn', and a host of others, Paul Vossberg will always be remembered as the one who was principally responsible for selecting, successfully propagating, and making readily available these fine hybrids now so popular. Paul was an enthusiastic and energetic plantsman-nurseryman whose special interest and love for rhododendrons inspired many to seek out and grow the new hybrids as well as the fine hardy and dependable 'Ironclads'.

R. 'Halesite' R. 'Harlequin'
R. 'Halesite'
Photo by Dorothy Knippenberg
R. 'Harlequin'
Photo by Dorothy Knippenberg

Paul's interest in rhododendrons was inspired by his association and work as a young man with the late Henry Hicks, a remarkable plantsman and founder of Hicks Nurseries. Paul was encouraged by Mr. Hicks to hybridize and select rhododendrons hardy enough for Long Island gardens, an interest which continued for more than fifty years.
In 1943 he joined Westbury Rose Company where he perfected a method of successfully rooting cuttings of rhododendron varieties previously difficult or impossible to root. At about this time, Paul, accompanied by Dr. John Wister, Dr. Clement Bowers, Dr. Henry Skinner, and Dr. Donald Wyman, organized numerous trips to seek out, select, and save the best of the Dexter Hybrids. In a visit to the New York Botanical Garden one plant was outstanding. Paul took cuttings and propagated it. Eventually the original plant died at the Garden but Paul fortunately had the stock and introduced it as 'Scintillation'. Paul was admired by his colleagues on this distinguished committee for his uncanny ability to recognize and select magnificent promising hardy hybrids.
Paul was a charter member of the New York Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. During his many years of membership he shared his knowledge and experience with rhododendrons freely with members. His many contributions and his inspiration to others were recognized in the presentation to him in May, 1963 of the Gold Medal of the A.R.S. and again in June, 1969 by the presentation to him by the New York Chapter of a Life Membership in the A.R.S.
Paul had been honored in 1955 by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in the presentation to him of the Jackson-Dawson Medal for his skill in the science and practice of hybridization and propagation of hardy woody plants.
Paul's warm smile, sense of humor and enthusiastic interest in people and plants were greatly missed at Chapter meetings and shows during the past few years. A worsening of an emphysema condition prevented his attendance. Paul was 78 when he died in September.