Lasting Legacies


Bob Egolf (right) with Anne Cox.
Photo © Shirley Denton.
It’s always difficult to lose long-standing friends to the ravages of time. The best we can do is to remember our friends and honor their memory by continuing the good work of the Society that engaged them to begin with. Sometimes, these friends honor us as well, by remembering the Florida Native Plant Society in their wills, and other times we honor them through tributes and memorial gifts. Two recent losses to the Society come to mind when speaking of the impact the Society has on the lives of our members, and the lasting legacy their commitment to the protection of native plants and natural communities has on the Society.

When Bob Egolf passed last year, the Society mourned this immense loss. An avid gardener, promoter of native landscapes, and a conservation-minded advocate for nature protection, Bob was a dedicated leader of the Florida Native Plant Society. He served the organization in so many capacities, from his position on the Serenoa Chapter Board to his service on the state Board as Chapter Representative, Publications Chair, Vice-President for Administration, and finally as President. His wonderful personality, giving nature, leadership and service to our mission has been truly missed, but it should not have been a surprise when we learned that Bob remembered us in his will. As we have honored Bob, he in turn, has honored us.

Betty Wargo (left) with Angus Ghoulson.
Photo © Shirley Denton.
The Society faced another loss of a longtime member in 2013. Betty Wargo, a member since the Society’s earliest days, passed last year to the sadness of all who knew her. Active in her chapter on field trips, performing surveys, and photographing Florida’s native flora for publication in the Suncoast chapter’s first book and the Atlas of Florida Plants. Betty was also a regular FNPS Conference goer, where the anecdotes are legend, such as her penchant for quietly driving the cost of auction items up to help the Society, then going home with more than she likely envisioned. There was also a time when one of the Society’s conferences was faced with a financial crunch and Betty quietly wrote a check to bridge the gap. Quietly is a key to Betty’s legacy. Though she never sought an active role in leadership, she was a leader non-the-less.

The Suncoast Chapter has established a Tribute Fund to honor our memories of Betty Wargo. The chapter has donated $2,500 to the 2014 Conservation Awards in her name. For those who knew Betty and would like to add to her Tribute Fund, please fill out a donation form online or simply note the Betty Wargo Tribute Fund in the memo field of your check to the Society.

It often happens that as we honor the memories of those we have lost, we are honored in return. It is this sense of belonging and reciprocal commitment that encapsulates what it means to be a member of the Florida Native Plant Society. And, we, the Society are better for it.

Sincerely,
Kellie A. Westervelt
Executive Director

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posted by Laurie Sheldon


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