JARS v63n4 - In Memoriam: W. H. (Bill) Brackman

In Memoriam: W. H. (Bill) Brackman
Fred Whitney

The Rhododendron world lost a valued, dedicated devotee of our genus on June 19th, 2009 due to a severe head injury while attending a church conference in Portland, Oregon. During his 75 years, Bill touched many lives and shared his knowledge and "rhododendron fruits" with many - both by sharing plants and the giving of his time to the Tacoma Chapter (where he and Myrna were awarded the Bronze Medal for their outstanding service to the chapter) and the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. Bill held repeat chapter officer positions in the Tacoma group, was chair of the highly successful spring show (with entries approaching 1,000) several times. He was treasurer and a regular volunteer at the RSBG as a member of the "Thursday Gang" which accomplished many projects at the garden most notably the complete re-construction of the interim tropical facility.

Bill and Myrna (a dedicated couple for 51 years) together developed a two ha (five acre) display garden which was one of the earliest "second generation species collections" (following in the footsteps of the original founders of the Rhododendron Species Foundation). The garden started as "1.2 land-locked ha (three acres) of stumps and brush" but has now developed into two ha of which 1.4 ha (3.5 acres) are an absolute masterpiece of vistas incorporating the species (and some hybrids) in a succession of bloom cycles to provide a great backing for Myrna's contribution of perennial and annual color plants - year-round interest! Bill also had the vision that led to construction of a unique and highly functional geodesic dome greenhouse, which was featured in the Sunset magazine as well as the Tacoma News Tribune. In that environment, Bill and Myrna propagated their "own supply" of materials for the garden. Bill was one of the successful growers of R. dalhousiae seed that was gathered during one of Pioneer Awardee Britt Smith's many trips to Sikkim. He also grew one of probably only three R. boothii in cultivation.

Bill was a strong proponent of the growing and use of species for hybridizing. As a member of the South End Hybridizers for a number of years, the fruits of his crosses will hopefully be evaluated and result in the introduction of new stock for either direct propagation or further hybridizing by others around the world.

Bill was a devoted member of the Lutheran Church and a much loved father of two sons, a daughter, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. He will be sorely missed by those who came in contact with him, but most of all, those with whom he shared his love of the genus Rhododendron .