The society was officially chartered as an affiliate American Rose Society in 1983; however the group had existed prior to that date. Becky Beatty originally got several interested rosarians
together and created the interest. She died in September of 1983. Susan Conrad was the early president that continued the work of Becky. In the early years the group met at member’s homes and gardens
in the mornings. They soon opened a bank account and Nora McDaniel was the first Treasurer. Her husband (the banker) arranged to get the society an account with no fees. We still have a no fee
account. The only charge is the cost of printed checks. The first deposit was on April 1, 1983 for $45.00. There is no record of the membership 1983. There were by best counting 33 members in 1985.
Dues were $5. 00. Several of the beginning members are still current members. It has been told that Susan cried and knew that Vasta Yarbrough had ruined her bushes by pruning them! We also lost Susan
a number of years ago, but not before she made her mark on the society.
In 1985 members decided to have a rose show. Anna Price was president. It was held with the garden club flower show and was on the top floor of the capitol building. The theme was “A View from the Top”. Many of you may have heard about that experience. Bill and Mary Maud Sharpe were in charge of staging and properties and there were no properties. The garden club suggested that we get brown beer bottles to use for vases. Bill attempted to collect them from garbage on Sunday mornings for a number of weeks without much success. The last week we decided that a purchase was needed and we made one. The show preparation area was in the drive through and the show on the top floor. Logistics were not good! But the show was great and Jim Myers won the Queen of the show with the rose Fragrant Cloud. We had three perpetual trophies and 20 classes. We were off and running. Other trophies were added later and the total is now eight. By 1988 there were 42 classes in the show schedule. Arrangement classes were added to the show in 1995 when Stuart Smith was the president. We now have a Miniature Queen and also recently added a Miniflora queen. There are perpetual trophies for each of these. The schedules have evolved. The first was special since the garden club had it printed. Our first schedules that we printed as a society were done on an IBM memory and wheelwriter system. The first computer generated schedule was for the district convention we sponsored in 1991. Loinel Worley from the Gainesville Rose Society did this for us. This was a memorable show. We did the preparation area in the bar at the Ramada Inn. They closed the bar at 2:00 am and we had the show area ready the next morning for exhibitors. There was a memorable garden tour too. One of the buses got lost and was late. We all worried unnecessarily. Margaret Donaldson was the chairman of this convention and show. In 1993 the queen traveled all the way from Salisbury, NC to win. It was Korlingo.
The second show was moved to the Conner Building and the garden club came with us, but later left us.
One year the Garden Club hosted a state flower show and we went with them to the civic center. That was the year that Paul Gardner, a novice, won the queen of the show.
The show was moved the Tallahassee mall for two years and was a one day show, but moved back to the Doyle Conner Building and is currently being held there.
The Tallahassee and the Thomasville members have hosted the DSD district convention on three occasions. The most recent was in 2009 and was the fiftieth DSD and 25th TARS show. We have co-hosted a number of the DSD judging schools in Bainbridge as well as hosted DSD Mid-winter meetings.
In the early years we met at the Leon County Extension office auditorium and we grew in numbers. We made the move to Goodwood in the early 90’s and we continue to enjoy a good relationship. Monthly meetings are held at Jubilee Cottage. Bill Kerber has put us on the map. The rose gardens are much expanded from the original tennis court garden that was the first planted. We rooted plants from member’s gardens to get the original plants. Extra plants were offered to members and thus began the Goodwood rose plant sale which is held annually in mid February. All profits from the sale are used at Goodwood for the advancement of the rose gardens.
The bylaws were adopted while Hank Rosen was president. We worked long and hard to get them right. There has been only one minor change.
The list of presidents reads like a “Who’s Who” - Susan Conrad, Anna Price, Bill Sharpe, Hank Rosen, Bill Kerber, Lou Long, Pam Anderson, Sam Cunningham, Martha Jean Woodward, Stuart Smith, Isabelle de Sercey, Robert Harper, Jim Dooley, Bob Schelhorn and Frank Parker. Many presidents served additional terms.
One of the ways we got monies for our show and other projects was to offer roses to persons for special events and they gave a donation. The lawyer husband of Susan told us that donations did not require sales tax and other regulations.
The Peace Garden was planted and dedicated while Stuart Smith was president. AARS initiated the program. Our members purchased the original plants. The society bought and paid for the marker. The dedication ceremony was on the 50 anniversary of the peace rose and we made the ARS magazine with an article and pictures.
Our newsletter has had a number of editors. Mary Maud Sharpe started with a notice of meeting dates, etc. Other editors have been, Pam Anderson, Stephanie Wolanski, Bill Price, Robert Harper, Jim Dooley and back to Mary Maud.
The list of queen’s of show is shown in our rose show schedules and Anna and Bill Price lead in total number of queens won.
Our society with the exception of one year has awarded the bronze medal to member(s) for outstanding service to a local society since ARS started the program. Oline Reynolds was instrumental in getting this program started. It is awarded at the November meeting of the society. The list of winners is also a Who’s-Who list. Award recipients are Anna Price, Bill and Mary Maud Sharpe, William Kerber, Margaret Donaldson, Sam Cunningham, Stuart Smith, Vasta Yarbrough, Jim Myers, Joe Dawsey, Oline Reynolds, Hank Rosen, Sylvester and Martha Jean Woodward, William Price, Nell Cunningham, Bill Dority and Lennie Kennedy.
We are also active in the ARS consulting and master rosarian program. Names and contact information is published monthly in our newsletter. These CR’s are all knowledgeable rosarians and are ready to help.
The year of the rose was celebrated when Marilyn Wellan was president of ARS. Many of you gave special programs at Home Depot and promoted our national flower. We have the sign that declared us an American rose city and all the proclamations that we received.
The society has also participated in June Rose Month/Library Month at the Leon County Public Library.
Some members have special jobs. Sam Cunningham has been the chairman of classifications for every show that the society has held. Anna Price has been president, show chairman and she and Bill have been willing workers on any project. Bill Kerber has taken on the Goodwood project as his calling. Stuart Smith started the Peace Garden project. Oline Reynolds has represented us as ARS district and regional director. Vasta Yarbrough has given us much advise on growing roses and many time brought so many roses to the show that there was no way to enter them all. Montine Herring was an original member and she has done registration at events we have sponsored such as district conventions mid-winter meetings and judging schools. Robert Harper selected and procured society shirts for members. Frank Parker has been the driving force to get the web site up and running. There are many others who have made significant contributions!
These are only highlights of all the important events and persons. Members can share many more stories of our society experiences.