JARS 42n3 - President's Column - 1988 Convention Address

President's Column - 1988 Convention Address
Harold Greer
Eugene, Oregon

It is with great pleasure that I address the 44th Annual Convention of the American Rhododendron Society. I first want to thank Austin Kennell our Eastern Vice President, congenial host and chairman of this convention for the work he has done to put this meeting together. But as super as Austin is, even with his wife Betty's help, he didn't put this convention together alone. He did it with the help of many people like Ken and Sandra McDonald, Barbara and Alton Hall and many others, just as important, but too numerous to name. Thanks to the entire Mid-Atlantic Chapter for hosting this event.

People working together is just one of the things that makes the ARS an exceptional organization. We need to recognize the work that our leaders put into making the ARS special.

Let's start with your two primary contacts with the ARS. First is our Executive Secretary, Paula Cash. She is responsible for running the day to day operations of the society. She must make many executive decisions and see that the ARS is operating smoothly, working with all 59 of our chapters to maintain our membership. She is a very busy lady working for the best interests of the ARS.

Next, and no less important is your editor, Adele Jones. Adele is the person who puts together the excellent journal we have the privilege of receiving four times a year. She devotes much time and effort in seeing we have the finest publication possible. I just received a letter from a new member of the ARS in Joplin, Missouri and I quote "I wish to relate how impressed I am with the Quarterly! I soon plan to purchase as many back issues as possible. "Adele, thank you for your efforts."

Then we have our Treasurer, Joe Jones. He has much responsibility in seeing that our funds are managed and that the bookkeeping of the ARS is carried out. He is also Treasurer of the Research Foundation and devotes much time and effort for the good of our organization.

Now we think of our vice presidents, starting with the person who is the chairman of this convention, the man who has been running around with such a worried look on his face, being sure everything is running smoothly, our Eastern Vice President, Austin Kennell.

Then there is our Western Vice President, Everett Farwell. He has spent countless hours attending ARS meetings all over, serving on many committees and being helpful wherever needed.

Our next person who puts much work into the society is our immediate past president and head of our excellent seed exchange, Bill Tietjen. What untiring effort he must put in for the society, when you think there are 1700 entries in the seed exchange catalog. Just think of keeping them all straight! I encourage all of you to participate in the seed exchange, both by sending seed to Bill and by ordering seed. You will find there are some very interesting rhododendrons available to you only in this way.

Another person who has put a tremendous amount of effort in for the good of the society is our registrar, Jay Murray. One hundred twenty eight new names were submitted to her this year alone. What a tremendous task she has to get all of this information correct! She and her husband Bob have all of the registered and non-registered rhododendrons and azaleas (about 10,000) on computer. What a thankless task!

I also want to congratulate our two medal winners for this year. First, Dr. Sandra McDonald who has just received the Silver Medal for outstanding achievement in rhododendrons and azaleas and to the ARS in this eastern region. Next, Dr. David Goheen who just received a Gold Medal for service and achievement in rhododendrons nationally. My thanks and congratulations to you both, you exemplify the finest in people who love to serve our organization and our favorite plant.

This is the time of the year when we can see the fruits of our labors as the magnificent rhododendrons and azaleas flower. It is a time when the renewal of spring gives us new life, as we see how lovely are our favorite plants. We need to remember how fortunate we are, that our forefathers nearly 50 years ago, had the insight to form the American Rhododendron Society, so that today over 600 of us can gather in this convention. What a joy it is to have a chance to know a group of people like all of you, because rhododendron and azalea fanciers are some of the most enjoyable people around.

It is nice to know that the cause for which we stand is such a happy one. When have you seen a riot caused by people who love rhododendrons? Well, I'll admit, once in a while some of our shows and plant sales seem as if they are going to turn into a riot! Seriously, we do stand for a happy cause. Now we need to spread this joy to more of our friends and neighbors. How better to spread happiness than to give our friends a rhododendron or azalea, but don't stop there, also give them a membership in the ARS. If each of us could find one new member, think what it would do to our membership! We could double our organization.

Our society does much for the good of mankind. For one thing we spread beauty. As new hardier rhododendrons are introduced they will be able to be grown in a much larger area of the country. I applaud the hybridizers who are working toward that goal. Even in the northwest where rhododendrons are relatively easy to grow, I can remember in my early days of rhododendron interest some 35 years ago, that few rhododendrons were planted. I was once told that no one could succeed in a nursery that specialized in rhododendrons. Well, today most homes and commercial establishments in the northwest have at least one rhododendron and there are many nurseries specializing only in rhododendrons or azaleas. This same thing can happen in other parts of the country and world. The ARS should be the leader in this movement.

We have had steady growth during this year and our membership will reach 6000. But, we still have some work to do to reach 10,000 by 1991. Please become more involved with the ARS especially your local chapter. If there isn't one near, help in organizing one. It isn't that difficult. You will find that the more you do for the ARS, the more enjoyment and knowledge you will receive.

Please also let your officers hear from you. For an organization to run well we must have communications. We may not be able to do everything you desire, but we would like to hear your thoughts.

I do wish to thank many, many of you for the work you do for the ARS. Thanks to all of our committee chairpersons who work so hard for the best interests of our organization. It's great to see the spirit in our Public Relations Committee. Thanks to Betty Spady and her helpers in so many chapters. Most of all thanks to each and every one of you. You are the unseen heroes of the society and are the reason we are here tonight. Remember, working alone we can do little, but working together, we can do much!