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History of the San Francisco Rose Society

Organized 1941
From the San Francisco Rose Society History Book, with recent additions by Charles Dowling

On Oliver Kehrlein's Garden Page in The San Francisco Examiner for Sunday, September 14, 1941, there was an announcement that on the Thursday evening following, there would be a meeting of local Rosarians in the Assembly Room of the Public Library. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether there were a sufficient number of people in San Francisco interested in forming a local Rose society.

Oliver Kehrlein introduced the speakers, two John Edwards's, one from Oakland and the other from the Cypress Lawn Nursery in Colma, and George McDonough, evidently as avid a rose grower as ever cussed a thorn. Plans for a San Francisco Rose Society were discussed, and the immediate question of affiliating with an existing rose society arose. Sentiment favored affiliation with the largest and oldest National society, the American Rose Society, with members all over the United States.

Another organizational meeting was held on Sunday, November 9th, 1941 with eight persons signing up to form a San Francisco Rose Society. They were: Merrill J. Butler, George Deubler, Mrs. Hein, John Watson Hughes, Ray Lokay, George McDonough, Elmo Ostrander, and Alfred Stettler. A Constitution and By-Laws were drawn up along the lines suggested by the handbook of the American Rose Society, providing for 100% affiliation with the American Rose Society, membership in ARS being the only requisite for membership in the San Francisco Rose Society. Monthly meetings were to be held in the gardens of members. The slate of officers for 1942 was elected, with John Watson Hughes as President; Ray Lokay, Vice-President; George F. McDonough, Secretary-Treasurer; and Merrill J. Butler, George Deubler, Elmo Ostrander and Alfred Stettler, Trustees.

The first meeting of the newly organized Society was held in the home of George F. McDonough Sunday, December 7, 1941, the day on which staccato radio announcements broadcast the news of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. About twenty members and friends were present and the main topic of discussion, other than the radio news, was the pruning of Roses, with a demonstration in the beautifully kept rose garden, followed by considerable discussion on related subjects of Rose cultivation, such as fungus and insect control, fertilization, etc., etc.

At our annual Holiday Luncheon, held on December 07, 2003, SFRS celebrated our 62nd Anniversary. A memorabilia table was set up to display many of the artifacts that have been gathered over the years. Among the items on display were Rose Show Programs from the 40ís and 50ís, old Photos from Rose Shows held at San Francisco auto dealerships, certificates given to SFRS by several Mayors commemorating our Annual Motherís Day Rose Shows and much, much more. An honored guest at the luncheon was the grandson of George F. McDonough, one the founders of our Society. We presented him with the Silver ARS Medal that was given to his grandfather plus a photo taken at our 8th Annual Rose Show on May 7-8, 1949 held at the Earle C. Anthony Showroom on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.


Last updated: 3/7/09
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