JARS v58n3 - In Memoriam: Sydney Ronald Arthur Ayling

In Memoriam: Sydney Ronald Arthur Ayling
Fred Whitney

The worlds of rhododendrons, medicine and compassionate humanity are saddened by the passing of Ron Ayling, Christchurch, New Zealand, after a nine-month illness, on January 24, 2004. Ron was a Life Member of the Christchurch Rhododendron Society, a past president of that organization and a member of the American Rhododendron Society, Tacoma Chapter. Ron and his wife, Alison, became well known to many gardening groups/members throughout the world as a result of their keen interest and demonstrated abilities in their gardening pursuits as so wonderfully manifest in their Gartmore garden(s) in Christchurch.

Ron was born in Christchurch June 27, 1925, an only child to civil engineer and music teacher parents. Following the death of his father when Ron was 16, he assumed responsibility for his mother and two aunts. His completion of medical school at Otago University in Dunedin, NZ, in 1949 was followed by hospital experience before sailing as the ship's doctor to England where he started post graduate studies in 1952. Ron and Alison were married November 17th, 1956, in Alison's hometown of Ashburton, NZ. The family home Gartmore in Christchurch was purchased at auction in 1957 and the love of gardening commenced along with the start of their family of Vicki, Phillapa, and Nicholas. Ron established his "old-fashioned general practitioner" career in Christchurch where he covered the range of patients until his retirement in 1995. As his colleague John Musgrove eulogized Ron, "He quietly, but competently dealt with his practice; no fuss, no bother; the patients needed him and he responded; each patient was important to him and he has spent his life caring for people."

Ron and Alison thrived on the beauty of the large family home but built the smaller Gartmore (on the site of tennis/sport courts) after the children no longer were in residence. Many have been the events and visitors who have taken in the beauty of their masterfully designed and maintained garden over the years. Prior to Ron's illness, they both enjoyed five world trips fulfilling their retirement dreams.

As son Nic eulogized, "Ron lived a life of integrity and honour; he stood by his convictions and was not swayed by what was popular; he was a devoted romantic and loving husband; committed and loving father; compassionate and caring friend to many; rock solid in his spirituality."

All who had the opportunity to know Ron have a significant void in our world with his passing and hold dear his memories as well as our continued affections for Alison and the family.