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History of the Reno Rose Society

Organized 1953

The Reno Rose Society originally formed in the 1940's and split into two groups around 1950. ARS affiliation began in March 1953 and continues to this day. The Reno Rose Society was founded by members of old Reno families, some of whom trace their roots to the Comstock and early statehood days. Some of the early members include Ernest Burkhalter, L. Connelly, Dorothy & Fred Gallaway, Martha Goicoechea, Audrey Champion & Gordon B. Harris, Inge Jahn, Gwen Jones, Wilma B. Kery, John Ohlson, James & Sylvia Perry, Ralph & Jeanne Shearer, Edna Shelley, and Kay Stewart. The earliest list of ARS Consulting Rosarians dates from 1962. Early CR’s include Martha Goicoechea, Fred Gallaway, Wilma Kery, John Ohlson, Sylvia Perry, and Al Russell. Early rose shows and meeting were held at the Keystone Branch or the Downtown Reno Branch of First National Bank managed by Gordon B. Harris.

The early Society members were instrumental in establishing the Reno Municipal Rose Garden, which is now next to the California Building in Idlewild Park. Fred Galloway was the “grand old man” of the Reno Municipal Rose Garden, which he helped found in 1957. He was the City of Reno horticulturist in charge of maintaining the garden for many years thereafter and sporadically attended events until his death in the mid-1990's. The garden was rededicated in his memory in 1997. Current members of the Society continue to support local public rose gardens with the creation of a heritage rose garden at the historic Lake Mansion and scented gardens in the area.

Many of the silver perpetual trophies still in use today were contributed by flourishing businesses of the 1950's and early 1960's. Some of the trophies include the Mapes Hotel, Tahoe Timber Company, and Graves Nugget trophies. These perpetual trophies are on display at our Annual Rose Show in the California Building next to the Reno Municipal Rose Garden and at the August Awards Barbeque. Rose shows were held on the Saturday after Labor Day from 1957 to about 1982. In 1983, the annual show date was moved to the last half of June.

A second generation of rose lovers continued the activities of the Society from around 1970 into the mid-1980's. These include Carol Bonsoir, John Bievener, Mrs. Louis Capps, Angel DeNevi, Carol Howard, and Evelyn Vice. Angela DeNevi was the grande dame of Reno gardens for decades. Her newspaper column “Come into My Garden” explained the pleasures and pitfalls of gardening in the snowy shadow of the Sierras. Carol Howard was instrumental in keeping the Society going through times when the membership dipped below 10 members. Our 2005 rose show was titled “Rose Memories” in honor of her and early members of our Society.

The Society is presently in its third generation of leadership. Past presidents and current officers include Teresa Atkinson, Rebecca Geishaker-Chlebus, Ann Marie Harris, Nancy Helsel, and Mary Lynn Machabee. The Society continues to hold monthly meetings or events including public pruning demonstrations, rose cultivation workshops, an annual rose and flower show, shopping adventures, and garden tours.


Last updated: 3/7/09
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