Formation and History
of the Houston Rose Society
to 1982
Compiled by Barry Schlueter

The original Houston Rose Society was organized in 1937. It was sponsored by the Houston Chamber of Commerce and society meetings were held in members' homes. Prominent members of that early group included Mrs. Madge Demmer, Mr. Fred Teas, Mrs. Marguerite Palmer, Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Rockwell, and Mrs. May Del Flagg.

As World War II began, the rose society became inactive, and there was no local organization until 1959. During this period a number of Houstonians were recognized as outstanding amateur rose growers. These included Mr. J. M Stroud, Mr. J. M. Richardson, Mr. J. W. Patterson, Mrs. Grady Triplett and Mr. E. W. Snyder.

In the post-war period, another group contributed much to rose growing in Houston. These individuals specialized in rose presentation at area garden club meetings. They included Mrs. G. G. Orr, Mrs. Grady Triplett, Mr. Fred Teas, Mrs. R. B. Allen, Mrs. E. L. Manning and Mr. W. S. VonHeeder.

During this time, the American Rose Society appointed several local Consulting Rosarians, including Mr. J. M Stroud, Mr. G. R. Tomlinson, Mr. Fred Teas and Mr. R. L Morgan. In Galveston, Mrs. B. W. Friedberg became well known as a rose grower, and Mr. P. Hicks Daniel became a nationally known rose grower, exhibitor and judge. It was also the period when Mr. J. W. Patterson and family began an extensive and successful rose hybridizing venture in Houston.

These talented individuals began to realize that Houston needed a rose society. Having secured a list of local American Rose Society members, Mr. J. M. Stroud and Mr. Bob Liken mailed to them, and to other known rose growers, a letter of invitation. This letter of June 30, 1959, called upon the seventy-five recipients to meet at Mr. Stroud's home on July 9, 1959, to discuss organization of what has become the current Houston Rose Society (HRS). At this meeting temporary officers were elected and the organizational structure was determined. The attendees were the HRS founding members: Mr. and Mrs. Browne Baker, Mr. P. Hicks Daniel, Mr. Walter Frantz, Mr. Kelly M. Fogg, Mrs. B. W. Friedberg, Mrs. Hugh Gibson, Jr., Mr. T. H. Griffin, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Halliburton, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Liken, Mr. William McCreary, Mrs. George I. McFerron, Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Morgan, Mrs. G. G. Orr, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Patterson, Mrs. J. W. Patterson, Rev. G. V. Rhein, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Richardson, Mr. R. R. Rohm, Mr. and Mrs. George A. Stephen, Mr. J. M. Stroud and wife, BeeBee, Mr. and Mrs. G. R. Tomlinson, Mrs. Grady Triplett, and Mr. and Mrs. L. R. VanBurgh.

The first regular meeting of the society was held in the auditorium of the Texas National Bank Building on August 13, 1959. At that time, Mr. Oscar Chase, Director-at-Large of the American Rose Society, presented the Charter ARS affiliation to the Houston Rose Society. Permanent officers were elected and the constitution and by-laws were adopted. The members selected their first officers:

President: Mr. Robert Liken
First Vice President: Mr. J. M. Stroud
Second Vice President: Mr. Tom Griffin
Third Vice President: Mr. G. R. Tomlinson
Secretary: Mrs. Faye Liken
Corresponding Secretary: Mrs. Ruby Halliburton
Treasurer: Rev. G. V. Rhein
Parliamentarian: Mr. L. R. VanBurgh

Responding to an invitation from the Men's Garden Club of Houston, the new HRS officers decided to hold a fall rose show on November 15, 1959, at the Fannin Bank Building. In spite of freezing weather the week of November 6, the show was a great success. There were 257 specimen blooms entered and 14 arrangements, and the show schedule was composed by Mr. P. Hicks Daniel in color-class format sanctioned by the ARS. The show was judged by Mrs. E. W. Cowden, Mrs. V. A. Harrison, Dr. Eldon Lyle, Mr. Loyd E. Smoke, Mrs. E. L. Lucas and Dr. Thurmond Williamson.

Queen of the first show was a bloom of Chrysler Imperial grown by Mr. P. Hicks Daniel. The King of show was Mrs. Vivian Friedberg's McGredy's Sunset and Princess was Mr. P. Hicks Daniel's bloom of Pink Peace. Sweepstakes was won by Mr. J. M. Stroud.

The Houston Rose Society closed its Charter Membership in November, 1959, three months after the first meeting. These were the charter members:

Mrs. R. B. Allen
W. Browne Baker, L. S. Bisel, Mrs. L. S. Bisel, Donald Black, P. R. Bordner, Mrs. P. R. Bordner, Edward F. Bourg
Mrs. Durell Carothers, Oscar J. Chase, Mrs. C. J. Clemons, Mrs. Charles Coates, Mrs. Dorothy Collins, Mrs. E. W. Cowden
P. Hicks Daniel, Mrs. Madge Demmer, W. T. Doherty, Mrs. W. T. Doherty, Nancy Drechsel
L. M. Everett, Mrs. L. M. Everett
Mrs. May Del Flagg, G. A. Flavin, Walter Forry, Mrs. Walter Forry, Walter M. Frantz, Mrs. Vivian Friedberg
Mrs. Hugh Gibson, Jr., H. J. Gore, Mrs. H. J. Gore, Fred E. Graham, Mrs. E. H. Grant, T. H. Griffin
J. M. Halliburton, Mrs. J. M. Halliburton, Mrs. John Hamman, Jr., Mrs. S. Baron Hardy, W. A. Harman, Mrs. W. A. Harman, Mrs. V. A. Harrison, Mrs. Bertha M. Hawkins, Dr. Henry S. Hichens, Mrs. Henry S. Hichens, George B. Hudson
J. N. Johnson, Mrs. J. N. Johnson
Ed Kieke, Mrs. Angelene Kieke, Karp Klein
Edward C. LeMeilleur, Mrs. Alix LeMeilleur, Robert L. Liken, Mrs. Robert L. Liken, H. T. Long, Mrs. H. T. Long
Mrs. E. L. Lucas, Dr. Eldon W. Lyle
Mrs. Christine McCann, William McCreary, Mrs. William McCreary, Mrs. George I. McFerron, Lyle Messenger, Mrs. Pauline Messenger, Mrs. T. W. Mohle, L. Edward Mooney, Mrs. L. Edward Mooney, Robert L. Morgan, Mrs. Robert L. Morgan
Mrs. Edythe Nicoletti
Mrs. G. G. Orr, W. A. Osborne
Mrs. Marguerite Palmer, Mrs. Maurine Parkhurst, J. W. Patterson, Mrs. J. W. Patterson, Jimmy W. Patterson, Jr., Jimmy W. Patterson, Mrs. O. G. Pierson, Robert Powell, Jr.
Miss LaVerne Reichert, Rev. G. V. Rhein, J. H. Richardson, Mrs. J. H. Richardson, Mrs. Gordon M. Robb, M. L. Rogers, Mrs. R. R. Rohm, R. R. Rohm, Mrs. Theodora Russum
Dr. O. F. Schoevogel, Don B. Smith, Mrs. Don B. Smith, Loyd E. Smoke, Earl H. Snyder, Mrs. E. G. Spencer, G. E. Stroud, Mrs. G. E. Stroud, J. M. Stroud, Mrs. J. M. Stroud
Mrs. I. H. Tartt, Fred Teas, G. G. Tomlinson, Mrs. G. R. Tomlinson, Mrs. Grady Triplett
L. R. VanBurgh, Mrs. L. R. VanBurgh, Miss Helen Vance
B. J. Werner, Dorothy Whitley, Dr. Thurmond Williamson, William F. Wohlt, Mrs. William F. Wohlt.

The year 1960 marked the establishment of many traditions and practices still cherished by the Houston Rose Society. Program highlights for the year included a Patterson-Halliburton rose hybridizing presentation, Mr. Stroud's outstanding pruning lecture, an arranging seminar conducted by Mrs. G. G. Orr and Mrs. Grady Triplett, and Mr. Robert Powell's program on soils. That same year, monthly rose shows at the regular meetings were begun. Our HRS library was also established in 1960 for the benefit of the membership, and in May of that year the first Garden Tour was held, highlighted by Mr. Stroud's 375 rose bushes and a picnic finale at Tomlinson's Nursery.

The Houston Rose Society's second show was held in October 1960. Mr. Bob Liken won Queen of Show with his Helen Traubel, and Mr. Stroud won King with a bloom of Burnaby. Mrs. Friedberg's bloom of Peace was the Princess, and the best arrangement was created by Mrs. Orr. The 681 entries indicated the high level of interest in roses and the increasing size and activity of the Houston Rose Society. This energetic growth was led by Consulting Rosarians J. M. Stroud, G. R. Tomlinson and P. Hicks Daniel. By year's end, HRS boasted 148 members, 32 of whom also belonged to the ARS. The early growth was also due in part to the excellent press coverage provided by garden writer and rosarian Mrs. May Del Flagg.

In 1961, the Houston Rose Society began conducting its monthly meetings in the Houston Garden Center in Hermann Park. Although newsletters had been written earlier, the Rose-Ette was established as the official publication of HRS in July 1961. When Howard Walters became editor in 1964, the Rose-Ette developed into one of the nation's leading rose publications. It won the South Central District Bulletin Award in 1969 and the national bulletin award in 1970, and has certainly helped maintain the high level of HRS membership.

Also in 1961, the HRS began an active association with Blossomtime Houston. These were gala gardening events sponsored by HRS and other plant societies, garden clubs, local nurserymen and the Garden Center Advisory Board, then chaired by Mrs. G. G. Orr. The Spring Rose Show was a part of this affair from 1961 through 1964. Blossomtime Houston gave the society excellent advertising and a source of income from tickets sold for the event.

In its formative years, the HRS was blessed with superb leadership. "Mr. Rose of Houston," J. M. Stroud, provided horticultural leadership of an inspirational nature. Mr. Bob Liken provided legal advice, enthusiasm, intelligence, leadership and was an excellent exhibitor. He also helped involve HRS with the activities of the South Central District of the American Rose Society. Mr. Walter Forry provided organizational leadership which established the time-tested operating procedures of the HRS. He was instrumental in the HRS transition to a large, nationally respected organization, and possessed political skills which led HRS into local and national prominence.

With the strong assistance of Mr. Oscar Chase, HRS hosted the District Convention in the fall of 1961. A judging school was held at this convention, setting a national precedent for the training of judges at locations other than national conventions.

The Houston Rose Society made perhaps its greatest contribution to the city of Houston in 1962. Amid political turmoil in city government, because of the proposed garden, the HRS was instrumental in the establishment of the Houston Municipal Rose Garden. In April of that year, Mayor Lewis Cutrer met with HRS officials Mrs. G. G. Orr, Walter Forry and Bob Liken, and the Garden Center Advisory Board, and planning was begun for a municipal garden. Later that month, HRS officials took City Park Officials to Tyler to obtain landscape and cultural information based on the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden experience.

In September, 1962, City Council approved the first phase of construction, with HRS officials Mrs. Henry Hichens and J. M. Stroud promising to obtain the rose bushes for all plantings. Sixteen rose growers across the country donated nearly all of the plants, and in February, 1963, HRS members helped prune and plant thousands of them. The Houston Municipal Rose Garden became a dream come true with its dedication ceremony on July 21, 1963. Retired nurseryman and Consulting Rosarian G. R. Tomlinson served as Supervisor for the rose garden for years thereafter, virtually donating his time for the love of the rose.

In 1964, the Houston Rose Society pioneered a now-popular trend by holding the Fall Rose Show in a shopping mall. At Sharpstown Center, HRS gained exposure to a new group of people, recruited new members, and disseminated rose culture information. In April of 1968, HRS held its Spring Rose Show at Memorial City Mall, forming an association with that mall which proved mutually beneficial. The Society enhanced its always stable financial position in later years by accepting donations for blooms during the mall rose shows.

In 1969 the ten-year-old Houston Rose Society was awarded the honor of hosting a National Convention of the American Rose Society. Led by a strong group of officers and Consulting Rosarians, HRS conducted a well-attended and smoothly run convention at the Shamrock Hotel. So successful was the venture, the HRS was prevailed upon again in 1979 to host a National Convention. Houston Rosetime '79 at Stouffer's Greenway Plaza Hotel was a rousing success, complete with speakers such as Dr. Griffith Buck and Dr. Eldon Lyle, and culminating in a memorable rodeo and barbecue finale.

Outstanding leadership made possible another pioneer effort in 1976. In January of that year, HRS first entered into an agreement with Teas Nurseries whereby our Consulting Rosarians assisted Teas' rose customers in exchange for a donation made by Teas to the American Rose Society. This interesting arrangement has required numerous man-hours of consultation for three weekends per year, but has enabled HRS to contact and recruit many new members at the moment their rose interest is greatest. Additionally, we have placed valuable cultural information in the hands of rose growers who may not join HRS, but whose rose growing success has been thereby enhanced.

Projects such as the Teas consultations, rose sales at rose shows and volunteer maintenance of a local private garden have filled the HRS coffers to the extent that we have proudly donated many thousands of dollars to the fledgling American Rose Center at Shreveport, Louisiana. In fact, HRS designed, built and paid for its own $12,000 garden there. With money and manpower, the Houston Rose Society has led the nation in establishment and development of a successful American Rose Center. The national leadership provided by J. M. Stroud, Walter Forry, Howard Walters, Sid Shackelford and others, has been a source of pride for our society and a key to the continuing success of the American Rose Society.

Our society also has led the nation in recruiting new members for the American Rose Society, and our local membership total grew to 900 in 1982. The history of the Houston Rose Society has been a success story because of the foresight and dedication of its founders, and the energetic leadership of its officers. Roses seem to have brought out the best in people, or just the best people.

Copyright © 2002 Houston Rose Society. All Rights Reserved.

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