In Memoriam: George Saunders
The ARS and the Eugene Chapter lost a pioneer member with the death of George Saunders at age 86 in May of 2002. George was a member of the (Eugene) Men's Camellia and Rhododendron Society before that group became one of the early chapters of the ARS. He and his surviving wife, Joyce, celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on April 6, 2002.
George's long interest in agriculture included farming in an area that is now a part of urban Eugene. 1960 brought a change in career for him to the County Tax Department, but his fascination with ornamental gardening continued to his death. George's extensive knowledge of rhododendrons saw him often called upon to judge at many different chapter shows. Though having lost an arm to a hunting accident as a teenager, he still wielded a mean shovel! A faithful worker on whatever task needed doing during Eugene's annual truss show, he was also always present too for cleanup chores after the show ended, where he shoveled bark and maneuvered a broom with the best.
The Eugene Chapter recognized his many contributions with the award of a Bronze Medal in 1975. George, though, was not one to rest on his laurels and continued as an active member of the chapter and within the community. But one example was long service in recent years on an ad hoc advisory committee for the Hendricks Park Rhododendron Garden, which worked with the city on long- term plans for the garden and in evaluating its plant collection. He brought a special qualification to this task since he was there at the beginning when the garden was started at the urging of the Eugene Chapter.
George seemed always to have a cheerful outlook and was representative of the enduring friendships made through a common interest in rhodies. We have three specimens of Rhododendron luteum in our garden from a group George grew from seed, generously given us shortly after we joined the Society. We mourn his loss and our sympathies go out to his family, but we shall also remember George with a smile whenever the sweet fragrance of luteum in flower wafts on the spring breezes.