In Memoriam: Ted Van Veen
On Dec. 6, 2003, the rhododendron world, to say nothing of family and a bevy of friends, lost a singular member of its ranks. The passing of Ted Van Veen, born Nov. 4, 1916, marks the culmination of a life devoted for over four decades to nurturing his beloved rhododendrons. By talent and industry, not only did Van Veen Nursery become the largest purveyor of rhododendrons in the nation by the early 1970s, Ted's inclination to share and inspire became legion. In succeeding his celebrated father at the helm of the family nursery in 1961 at his father's passing, Ted's affection for rhododendrons, coupled with a deft personal touch, became the vehicle that led him to broaden the scope of his interests and influence.
Ted Van Veen's activity and leadership were legendary in the Oregon Nursery industry as well as the American Rhododendron Society at national and chapter levels. In 1969, his publication of Rhododendrons in America became an instant hit in America and, not long after, in Japan where an edition was printed especially for that following. The color photos were a first for a rhododendron book.
Assuming the reins as chairman of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in 1987, Ted had a vision for the garden which he felt confident would catapult it into the ranks of international acclaim. Through masterful execution of plan this ambition has largely come to fruition.
As rhododendron's ambassador inside and outside rhododendron circles, Ted's legacy will most certainly endure in the many lives he has so lovingly touched. Ted Van Veen is survived by his wife, Fran; two daughters, Kathy and Diane; and three grandchildren.
Remembrance of Mr. Van Veen by Mike Stewart
For many of us in the American Rhododendron Society, we were drawn to our organization because of Ted. From that very first encounter, we knew that we had just met an extraordinary person. He led by example and was an inspiration to those who worked alongside him. If he asked you for help, there was only one answer you could give him, and that answer was yes, because it was considered an honor to have been asked to work with him.
In 1987 he accepted the volunteer job of Garden Chairman at the Crystal Springs Garden. Ted had a vision for the garden that far exceeded that of anyone who had come before him. With the help of a very dedicated group of friends and fellow ARS members, their dream for a place of beauty and tranquility has come true.
He once said that motivation comes from within. Ted's motivation came from his love of rhododendrons and his love and commitment to the people who counted on him. His generosity and ability to bring people together from all parts of the rhododendron world are unsurpassed. Wherever you travel to see rhododendrons, there will always be someone who knew Ted Van Veen. The ARS awarded him its highest honor, the Gold Medal, for his many years of service and dedication.
We will profoundly miss our friend. His very presence in a room graced our lives. His gentle nature, his friendly smile and his genuine love for his fellow man will be lasting memories for those who were fortunate enough to have known him. His contributions to the rhododendron world were enormous. His efforts to bring beauty to the earth will be a lasting and most profound legacy.
Remembrance of Mr. Van Veen by William Robinson
As a founding and charter member of the ARS, I remember the days Ted Van Veen decided to carry on his father's rhododendron nursery and joined the Society in the early 1960s. He was a kind, giant of a man, the type that would give you the shirt off his back. He has donated much of his life to the Society and his fellow members. As Garden Chairman of Crystal Springs Garden, two of his accomplishments are his garden books and his contributions to make the Crystal Springs Garden what it is now, a special unique place for all.
Additional Notes on Ted Van Veen's life
Past President: Oregon Association of Nurseries, Northwest Horticultural Congress, OAN Rose City Chapter, International Plant Propagators Society, ARS Portland Chapter.
Director: Rhododendron Species Foundation, American Horticultural Society.
Awards from numerous industry groups, including the first elected to the Nurserymen's Hall of Fame, in 1992, at the Oregon Garden.
Career: After graduation from business college, he was employed by IBM until 1961, when his father died and he took over the nursery. He authored Rhododendrons in America and worked over twenty years to get the Pacific Coast Rhododendron Story into print in 2001. He received two ARS Bronze Medal award in 1980 and 1999 and the ARS Gold Medal in 1976.