JARS v53n2 - In Memoriam: Benjamin Shapiro

In Memoriam: Benjamin Shapiro
Richard Gustafson
Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Benjamin Shapiro of East Brunswick, N.J., a long time ARS member, died in January 1999 at the age of 91.

Ben and his wife, Marion, had been ardent gardeners since they moved to their wooded one-acre property soon after their marriage in 1939. Collecting and growing rhododendrons and azaleas was most gratifying for these neophyte gardeners, and their hobby became more intense after they came under the influence of Joe Gable, Guy Nearing and others. They became active rhododendron hybridizers at a time when the available gene pool was relatively limited. As many as 120 plants from a single cross were grown to flowering size and evaluated. Most were given away or discarded. The best became important landscape features of their impressive garden.

Ben served two terms as president of the New Jersey Chapter, and he and Marion joined and eventually received the Bronze Medal from the Princeton Chapter. Ben was a welcome speaker and Marion often sat in the front row to augment his memory by helping with hybrid names and parentage. Among their valued hybrids most widely distributed are 'Cynosure', 'Accolade', 'Magnificat', 'Eileen Driscoll', 'June Celebration', and the lepidote 'Lemon Tea'. Particularly noteworthy is 'Kristen Marie', a white with a picotee edge. (See the spring 1988 Journal) Ben is survived by his wife, Marion, a son, Philip, and a daughter, Janet.