JARS v63n4 - In Memoriam: Fran Rutherford

In Memoriam: Fran Rutherford
E. White Smith

Fran passed away on July 17, 2009. He was 93 years old and still lived in his home. Fran was a retired WWII Naval officer and a retired Kitsap County Assessor. Fran served for two years as ARS Tacoma Chapter president. He also spent many years on the board and the executive committee of the Rhododendron Species Foundation. Back in about 1974, Fran and I were at an Education Committee meeting at the RSF when a big French wine box full of vireya rhododendron cuttings came in from Papua New Guinea. The RSF was not prepared to handle the cuttings so Fran and I took them to my house in Tacoma and divided the cuttings up. We both rooted a bunch of the cuttings and returned many species to the RSF in later years. In about 1986, Fran went on a plant hunting trip to Papua New Guinea with a group from Australia and New Zealand. His trip was written up in the Vireya Vine newsletter. Fran helped put out the Vireya Vine newsletter for 27 years, a newsletter that is mailed to about 400 people around the world.

Fran was the principle contributor of funds to the new Tropical Greenhouse being built near the entry area of the RSF garden. This new 446 sq m. (4,800 sq ft.) house is being named the Rutherford Conservatory and will be planted with vireya rhododendrons, maddeniis, big leaf rhodies, plus many other interesting semi tropical plants.