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Orchard Memorials

Several trees have been planted in the CRFG Demonstration Orchard in memory of former members of CRFG. These trees have a nice plaque in front of them, commemorating the lives of these dedicated people.


Alfredo U Chiri - Lúcuma Tree planted July 9, 2022

This 2017 obituary was shared by Sharon Lovelady, his daughter, and a member of our local chapter.  The first two paragraphs were written by his good friend Edgar Valdivia.  A very nice tribute from Edgar to Afredo is posted on YouTube.

Alfredo was long time and active member of CRFG organization. If you lived in Orange County, you no doubt saw him at the Fullerton Arboretum where he dedicated many years maintaining the CRFG rare fruit area. He was actively involved with the Orange County Chapter. He wrote many articles about rare and unusual fruit. He had planned on publishing a book about rare fruits. Many of these articles were published in the “Fruit Gardener” magazine and in the Los Angeles Chapter newsletter as well as many others.

One of the many fruits that Alfredo dedicated himself to was the lúcuma (Inca Gold). This fruit is native to his country of Peru. I always called him the Father of the Lúcuma in the U.S., because he was so successful in producing it and made ice cream from the lúcuma to share with our members. Thanks to his sharing this fruit and plants with everyone, many of us today are growing it in our backyards.


Alfredo U. Chiri was born on August 5, 1930 in Lima Peru. He grew up in Jesus Maria, Lima Peru. Alfredo Chiri passed away August 31, 2017, he was 87 years old. His love for plants started when he was a child. Alfredo was a Master Gardener and Rare Fruit Grower. A lúcuma tree was planted in his honor on May 5, 2018 in the beautiful Veterans Memorial Gardens in Long Beach.


My father was Alfredo Cheri (pronounced “keeri”) and he managed the arboretum at Cal State Fullerton.  I got the love of growing rare fruits from him.  My family is from Peru.  My father brought the lúcuma here probably 30 years ago.  He had been on a visit to Peru and brought some lúcuma back with him in his pocket. He wouldn’t even put them in his luggage.  At the house where he and his wife lived, there are two huge lúcuma trees that are at least 12 feet tall. Edgar Valdivia continued with the lúcumas at his place (more response from members who know Edgar).  So I tried growing them at my house but didn’t have much luck. It’s good to hear that others are growing them.  A lot of my dad’s friends down in Southern California are growing lúcuma.  It makes great ice cream.  My daughter, who has a masters in AG, teaches AG at a youth authority in Texas.  One of her senior projects was on marketing lúcuma.

Grace Gelling - Leah Cot Aprium planted 2022

Grace and husband Bill (William) were members of the CRFG Foothill Chapter while living in Pomona. Bill served as president of the Foothill Chapter. After moving to Fullerton in 1975, Grace and Bill were members of the Orange County Chapter. When Bill passed, Grace moved to San Luis Obispo in 2012. Grace joined her daughter June and became a member of the Central Coast Chapter. After June retired Grace and June moved to Irvine and became members of the Orange County Chapter.


Grace passed August 20th, 2021.

Grace Rae (Wendruck) Gelling was born October 4, 1934 in Los Angeles, California to Dave and Della Wendruck. She had one older brother, Martin Wendruck.


Grace graduated from Pomona High School in 1951 and from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1955. After graduation she taught cooking and sewing at a junior high school in Chino Unified School District for 2 years.


Grace met William Gelling at a church dance in Pomona, California. They were married August 4, 1956. They were married almost 48 years when William passed in 2004.


Grace was active throughout her life in different organizations including California Rare Fruit Growers, Organic Gardeners, Needlework Guild, Newcomers, PTA, Camp Fire Girls, square dancing, Wives of Professional Engineers, and Toastmasters. Grace was a social person who enjoyed the company of her family and the friends she made over the years. Her favorite hobbies were singing, dancing, ping pong, gardening and sewing. Grace was cheerful, had a positive outlook and an infectious laugh.


Grace was preceded in death by her husband, William, parents Dave and Della and brother Martin. Grace is survived by her 3 children, 5 grandsons, and 2 great grandchildren.


Grace will be greatly missed by all those who knew her and loved her.

She Is Gone (He Is Gone)

by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


Art Henzgen - Multi-grafted Fruit Tree planted 2017


At our Chapter's July 2015 meeting the following resolution was read and presented to Art to express appreciation for all he has done:


Mr. Art Henzgen

Whereas, Art Henzgen was one of the founding members of theCentral Coast Chapter, and

Whereas, Art was one of the very first Co-chairs of our chapter, and

Whereas, Art was one of the co-chairs of a Festival of Fruit that our chapter hosted in 1996, and

Whereas, Art was the architect of many of the traditions currently used and celebrated by our chapter, and

Whereas, Art was on the apple grafting team from the very beginning when we grafted trees at three schools in 1998, and

Whereas, Art has been one of the most aggressive and successful recruiters of new members to our chapter, and

Whereas, Art has been an “Ambassador” for our chapter as he sold hundreds of common rare fruit trees and thousands of tomato plants at Farmers Market, and

Whereas, Art has been a major donor of plant materials to our plant sales, plant exchanges, and door prizes, and

Whereas, Art has been one of the most consistent and most active members of the Central Coast Chapter meetings, service projects and educational activities. and.....

..... now therefore, be it resolved... that Art Henzgen be thanked for his many years of service and awarded LIFE MEMBERSHIP in our Central Coast Chapter... along with our best wishes for a successful move to the San Joaquin Valley and a long and healthy life.

Dated: July 11, 2015

Sally Requa, Co-Chair

Les Ferreira, Co-Chair

Arthur Conrad Henzgen, Jr  born May 19, 1928, passed away June 8th, 2017 in Lindsay, California. Art was an active member and co-founder of the Central Coast Chapter, California Rare Fruit Growers.  Art became an early leader in the chapter, serving as Co-Chair. He was an active member of the High School Apple grafting team and was one of the most active "recruiters" for our chapter!!  Art was a long time vendor and participant in the Saturday Farmers’ Market. He taught mathematics for over thirty two years at Laguna Middle School. He was a part-time instructor at Cal Poly State University, a member of the San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church, and a WWII veteran in the United States Navy. Art loved to grow fruit producing plants, especially the tomato. He propagated hundreds of tomato plants and gave most away. He was honored by the local Master Gardeners, awarded a “Life Membership” for his service and dedication to educating others. He loved to fish in local fresh waters. Art was survived by his wife of 40 years, Doris Henzgen and his sister Donna Smith. Art has two biological children, five stepchildren, seventeen grandchildren, ten great grandchildren and five nieces. His friends and many “customers” will remember him for his warm smile. He was a very happy person and was friend to all.

His tree is a multi-grafted Santa Rosa Plum and July (Kim) Elberta Peach tree.

Patti Schober - Tropic Gold Apricot Tree planted 2017

Thank you to all who contributed their memories of Patti.

From Joe Sabol:

Patti was a "long time" member of our chapter.  She loved our CRFG chapter and hosted a meeting in her backyard on a very rainy day.  She was a very active and dedicated grafter with our apple grafting team.  She liked to be in the back of the room during the demonstration... and she quickly and quietly took care of any misbehavior that might be going on in the back of the room.  She was also in charge of mailing the Chapter Newsletter.  I was the editor and would get 100 copies to her and she would stamp, address and send them!!  She also taught me how to eat an apple.   She learned to eat an apple down to the core during tough times.  During WWII she worked in a factory in Germany... assembling some sort of weapon that the workers did not know much about except for their specific job.   After the war they all learned more about what kind of weapon they were building.

She deserved that apricot tree in our orchard... to be named after her.

From Larry Hollis:

I did know Patti pretty well through CRFG. Bob Tullock was co-chair when I became co-chair and when he stepped down Patti stepped up and co-chaired with me for a number of years until her health caused her to step down. Patti lived in San Miguel and she and Bob were friends, he probably more than me, could wax poetic about Patti. I suppose that before the poetic reference leads you astray I should mention that Patti was a retired correctional officer, and being a short woman in that occupation may have caused her to assume a rather colorful manner of speech and attitude. I have copied Bob here as well as Joe and Marv, all of whom knew Patti pretty well and may have antidotes and photos to share. For all of Patti's tough facade, she was a kind and generous soul.


From Henry Mulder:

Regarding Patti Schober, I got know her better when she got ill. I visited her several times.

Patti was a devout Catholic. She was very supportive of St. Rose school in Paso Robles. On a couple of occasions she had us, the CRFG grafting group, teach apple grafting at her favorite St. Rose school, even though it was not a High School.


Patti was a happy and cheerful person, even during her illness and suffering, she was very pleasant.

From Bob Tullock:
Patti was a fun person to be with.  For several years we seldom missed a CRFG meeting and also participated in the youth day at the Event Center working with 4th grade students.  Marv's material sums up a lot about Patti in just a few words.

We all miss her  almost daily in many ways.


From Marv and Pet Daniels:

For Patti's Memorial Service at Mission San Miguel, Father Michael, provided bags of Tulip Bulbs and Daffodils for the guests to take and plant in memory of Patti. She blooms each Spring in their garden.

Patti was on the HS Apple Grafting Team. Joe had made posters as a teaching aid, such as “not enough cambium contact,” “scion too short,” “too thin” and “too fat.” She said, “Joe, I'm not too fat, I'm too thick!” So that poster was changed to “too thick.”

Patti was a Deputy Sheriff and was assigned to the California Youth Authority, Paso Robles. She knew how to get those rebellious kids' attention. When she told of stories of the Youth Experiences she encountered, she didn't leave any descriptive language out. She told of the day that she had met Father Michael at the CYA. Being a Devout Catholic she had a new friend. They both had traveled separately into Paso Robles for lunch. They both came to a stop sign, Patti in the right lane. Patti looked left and it was Father Michael and he flipped her the bird. Patti knew they were bonded for lifetime.


That story was retold by Father Michael in the Memorial Service.

Chuck and Susan Atlee - Saijo Persimmon Tree planted 2017

Chuck and Susan were from Pennsylvania. Much of their life they worked on international projects. They met while Chuck was in his senior year at Penn State. He served in the Navy during WWII. After college Chuck went to Mexico where he volunteered on an American Friends Service Committee project. When Susan graduated she joined him in Mexico where he proposed to her. They were married in Pennsylvania and came to California for their ’honeymoon.’ Chuck quipped that their ‘honeymoon’ lasted 52 years.

Chuck attended UC Davis where he received his doctorate. He worked for the  UC Agricultural Extension Service in Santa Cruz for 10 years. He and Susan with their 2 children, Barbara and Robert, moved to Guatemala in 1965 to work for USAID introducing new farming methods and crops to farmers there. Political unrest forced them to leave in 1969. Chuck joined the faculty at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and taught Crop Science. After retiring  form Cal Poly Chuck and Susan traveled to Costa Rica and served as the first faculty members of EARTH University. In retirement Chuck and Susan volunteered for Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA) and traveled to Thailand, Southern Sumatra, Indonesia, Burundi and Chuck traveled to several countries in Central and South America.

Chuck and Susan were avid bicycle riders and toured through several countries in Europe with their children and were very actively involved in local bicycle clubs here on the Central Coast. With their son, Robert, they helped organize the Wildflower Century Ride. Chuck and Susan were founding members of the Central Coast Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers. Chuck served as a Co-Chairperson.


Mehe Samano - Dapple Supreme Pluot Tree planted 2016

Thank you, Scott Oliver, for these memories of Mehe.

Born in a small village outside Seoul, South Korea, Mehe came to America as a young girl. Raised near Lincoln, Nebraska she was an avid hunter, loved to fish and developed a passion for gardening. Gardening remained an enjoyment all her life. At the age of 24 years old, Mehe joined the United States Air Force and served her Country for six years. She became a linguist, spoke fluent Korean. She was stationed in Germany and South Korea, traveling also on assignment to Egypt, Morocco, Spain and Istanbul. She was honorably discharged with the rank of Staff Sargent. Mehe was recognized by her superiors for her leadership and patriotism. Mehe loved her time in the military and it was a part of her life she enjoyed talking about. At the young age of 50 years old, Mehe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Columbia College. She worked briefly at the San Luis Obispo County Juvenile Facility.

Mehe joined the Central Coast chapter of CRFG in 2008. She was an active member, quick to volunteer when needed, always participating. She contributed articles and recipes to the chapter’s newsletter. (See Mehe's Rice Salad recipe on page 5 in the September-October 2011 Leaflet newsletter.) It was here she learned to graft and prune. She had a willingness to ask questions, try new things, experiment. She was well liked. With an infectious smile and upbeat attitude people gravitated her way. She was engaging, a quick study. Mehe planted her first tree in 2009, a Katy apricot, by the end of February she had grafted 5 different scions to her tree and her love and fascination with grafting was cemented.

In 2012, Mehe relocated to Maricopa, Arizona. This move brought special challenges to her love of fruit trees. Unfazed however, over the next year she planted 18 low chill fruit trees in her small backyard. Apples, Peaches, Apricots, Asian pear, figs, Pomegranates. On those 18 trees she grafted over 47 different varieties. She practiced a backyard orchard culture, keeping her trees pruned low, planting several varieties with similar rootstock in the same hole, grafting. Mehe was proud of her success with Mangos, Persimmons, bananas, all over three years old when she passed. The desert environment was not a deterrent. She joined the Arizona chapter of CRFG and became a board member. She served two terms as the chapter’s vice president.

Mehe became a Pinal County Master Gardener that same year. She managed the demonstration orchard at the Maricopa Agricultural Center on the grounds of the University of Arizona extension near her home. She brought new life to a failing orchard. Reviving established fruit trees, introducing many new varieties. She used her skills to educate other master gardeners throughout the County, the community and numerous like-minded groups in grafting, propagation, pruning and orchard maintenance. Mehe was often a guest instructor at Central Arizona College. Mehe was a friend to all, a mentor to many and will be missed. Her family is humbled, yet overjoyed by the planting of this tree in her honor. She is missed but never forgotten.


Thomas Ruehr - Dorsett Golden Apple Tree planted 2010

Thomas Ruehr (1943-2009) was born in Ravenna, Ohio, in 1943. His family raised vegetables which they sold at local markets. He was active in 4-H. He earned his bachelor’s at The Ohio State University where he met his future wife, Evelyn. He received his master’s degree at Iowa State University in 1970, and his Ph.D. at Colorado State University in 1976: all degrees in agronomy and soil science. He began teaching at Cal Poly in the Soil Science Department in 1994. He was the recipient of the university's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1980, the Petoseed Agriculture Faculty Award in 1996, and a Teaching Award of Merit from the NACTA in 1994. He was a founding member of Cal Poly's Sustainable Agriculture Resource Consortium.

Tom taught a variety of courses, mostly related to plant nutrition, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, and bioremediation. He also team-taught courses in global food systems, human values and ethics in agriculture, world food politics, and the global environment. He conducted research in agriculture, food systems, and bioremediation, was awarded many grants and authored many publications and presentations. He also reviewed many articles and books for his profession, and worked in curriculum development.

His passion was conducting educational and training sessions, consulting with or doing research for those making practical application in all areas of ag and ag business. This interest and demand for his services took him all over United States and into Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, China and South Africa where Evelyn often traveled with him. He routinely donated his consulting and speaking fees to an annual scholarship fund for junior soil science students at Cal Poly. A scholarship was established upon his death and continues to be given annually.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn Burky Ruehr, two children, Denise Kaub and Brent Ruehr, and their families.


Clytia Chambers - Cherry Tree planted 2008

Clytia, a true pioneer with CRFG, turned an exotic fruit newsletter into the fantastic bimonthly magazine, The Fruit Gardener. Chambers, a public relations executive, had great editing skills and "a mind like a steel trap," Ron Couch, who succeeded her as editor in 2000, told the Los Angeles Times.

Her interest in rare fruits arose from helping her husband tend orchards near Fallbrook, California. At one time they tended more than 40 varieties of sapotes!!!

Chambers, who died on February 20, 2007, was survived by her husband, three children, three stepchildren, five grandchildren, and a sister. Two of her daughters came to be with us when we planted the cherry tree in her honor. She is the only person recognized with a memorial tree that was not an active member of our local chapter. In some ways, she was a silent member of all chapters in the organization. She lived in Pasadena, CA.


Bill Furtick - Cherry Tree planted 2008

Bill was a longtime, active member and leader of our chapter and had a rich background in agriculture as the Dean of Agriculture at the University of Hawaii. He hosted a super-memorable chapter meeting at his beautiful home at the top of Prefumo Canyon where we all learned to plant fruit trees on a very steep hillside. He shared his fabulous garden, his love of fruit trees, and it was obvious that his hard work was a labor of love.

Bill was born in Kansas, attended Kansas State University, and received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Bill loved teaching and was an active leader, serving as president of the "Weed Science Society of America!" He was awarded many honors over his lifetime including "Director Emeritus" by the Association of Western Agricultural Experiment Sanitation Directors.
Bill served as Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Hawaii and went on to work in Washington D.C. and helped to develop agriculture programs in Taiwan, Italy, Egypt, and in Amman, Jordan. He encouraged our Chapter to "Think Big." He will be missed. His wife, Anne, joined us for the dedication of his tree in the orchard.


Ralph Vorhies - Multi-grafted Apple planted 2005

Ralph was a long-time Pomology Professor at Cal Poly and an active member of the early CRFG chapter. He also taught the Bee Keeping Class at Cal Poly. He was a strong and early supporter of establishing the demonstration orchard on the campus.

The multi-grafted apple has since been replaced by a beautiful Minnie Royal Cherry tree (shown in picture).


Gerda Martinez - Jujube Li planted 2004

Gerda was a very active member of our Central Coast Chapter. She hosted a memorable chapter meeting at her home in Paso Robles on a very rainy day. She served as our “secretary” for many years and mailed out the monthly newsletter to all members way back before email and Internet days!!


Richard was an active member of the Central Coast Chapter and an excellent gardener. His family donated the beautiful Japanese Maple in his honor and the leaders in the chapter made a big exception, allowing a non-fruiting tree to be planted in his honor. Richard loved the Japanese Maple tree and it was planted in a very special location in the fruit orchard.


Richard Shimamoto - Japanese Maple planted 2004

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