In Memoriam: Walter Kern
Walter Kern, a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society and the recipient of the Society's Bronze Medal, died on May 29, 1996, at age 91. Walter was born in Switzerland, orphaned at an early age and raised by two aunts. He studied at an agricultural school in French Switzerland and later at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and at the law school of the University of Rome. He emigrated to the United States during the Depression and spent most of his working life as a translator for a New York bank (he spoke at least five languages) and as a supervisor of export sales and licenses for Baldwin Locomotive Co.
In the early 1950s, Walter began growing deciduous azaleas from seeds he obtained from the Exbury collection of Edmund de Rothschild and later grew his own hybrids. His backyard nursery became the source for a variety of beautiful azaleas, and he and his wife Eliane won many awards for outstanding flowers.
Walter was a wonderful gentleman and he will be missed.