Friday, April 6, 2012

A Tribute to Louise Aunspach (1913-2012)

One of the best parts of my job is that I have the opportunity to meet and work with so many amazing Master Gardener volunteers. By far the most difficult part of my job is bearing the loss of amazing and inspiring individuals who I truly admire.

Long-time Oregon Master Gardener Louise Aunspach passed away on March 27, 2012, at the age of 98. She would have celebrated her 99th birthday in June. Louise was a member of the very first Master Gardener training class that was held in Lincoln County, in 1996. For her class project, she designed and planted a garden for the Alzeheimer's Unit at Newport Rehabilitation Center, in Newport Oregon. Louise was an active Master Gardener volunteer, contributing to OSU Extension, the Lincoln County Master Gardener Association, and the Central Oregon Coast community in so many ways. Louise has been a mentor for many Lincoln County Master Gardener training classes, and served as the Lincoln County representative to the Oregon Master Gardener Association. She was honored as the Lincoln County Master Gardener of the Year in 2000, and was again honored as the Behind Scenes Awardee in Lincoln County in 2005.

What I will most remember about Louise was how much fun she always seemed to have at Mini-College. Last year, Mini-College was held in Lincoln County - and at 98 years of age - Louise was there with a huge smile on her face. It was lovely to have a visit, and to see her reconnecting with old friends on her home turf. I also remember Louise from my first Mini-College, in 2007. Little did I know that Louise was a regular at Mini-College, attending every one from 1996-2005.

Louise's friend, Sally N., was kind enough to share a profile that she had written about Louise in 2006. Reading the stories that Louise shared with Sally, it was impossible not to smile. Louise danced with Ronald Reagan! She won joined the Navy in 1941, where she was on the tennis team and earned an Expert Pistol Medal! She sang in the Navy Hour Chorus on an NBC radio show, where she was directed by Fred Waring! She taught needlepoint at Shasta College in Redding, CA for 17 years, and tended a garden of many roses, pyracanthas and oleandar for 29 years in Gerber, CA. Her secrets to longevity?: getting into all the trouble that she could, and inheriting good genes - but not often wearing them.

Louise gardened on the Oregon coast for about 28 years. Her wealth of knowledge about how to successfully garden in the challenging climate of the Oregon coast have benefited many gardeners. Calendulas, osteospermums and gallardias were among her recommendations. She also loved zinnias (me too!), but found that they didn't easily prosper in the cool climate of the coast.

A memorial service will be held on April 21, 2012 at First Presbyterian Church in Newport Oregon (227 NE 12th street).

Louise will be in my heart and on my mind at this year's Mini-College, and when my zinnias and calendulas are in full bloom in my garden.  We'll miss you, Louise.

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