Early Days of the Marin Rose Society
Written by Gary Scales, Founding Member
In 1973, the NCNH District Meeting was held in Eureka, California. Having recently joined the American Rose Society, I was eager to participate in local rose activities. My wife, Janet, and I were registered and picked up our name tags and packets of information. We looked around and didn’t know a soul. An older, distinguished looking couple sensed our discomfort and came over and introduced themselves: Joseph and Marion Klima from Kentfield. And they couldn’t have been more gracious. We were invited to join in with them in all of the activities even though our knowledge of roses was at the basic novice level. In the course of our conversations, we asked why there wasn’t a Marin Rose Society? Joseph replied that he and Marion were willing to start one but they wanted at least ten active members. Including themselves, they only had six. If I could deliver four more candidates, they would make the necessary application and start us on the way. I delivered three warm bodies, including my own.
The following Spring, 1974, Marion called to say we were having our first meeting in the Westamerica Bank’s conference room in Larkspur at 7:30 PM. As best I can remember those present included:
Dr. John Muzio
Joseph, of course, was President. Marion was Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. In short, the Klimas served as interim officers until we got on our feet. Marion brought and served the refreshments and Joseph ran the meeting. At the time, none of us realized or appreciated what a privilege it was to have them as our leaders. They were completely unselfish and gave all of us their undivided attention and support.
Even though at times there were only five or six of us present at a meeting, Joseph and Marion conducted the meeting with the same protocol and decorum as if it were at a national convention. We always had a rose show, a talk and refreshments. The Klimas were there to help the novices prepare for the show. I also think they donated all the prizes. The Muzio’s lived in San Francisco and had participated in the San Francisco Rose Society. Several of us also joined in order to get their newsletters.
For several years we assisted with pruning demonstrations in San Francisco at the Rose Garden in Golden Gate Park. Again the Klimas led the way. We always had a portion of the meeting dedicated to a speaker – Martin J. Martin is a name I remember.
Joseph and Marion always were available to come by your garden and help identify, prune or plant. I’ll never forget Joseph, taking off his coat and grabbing a shovel to show me how to properly plant a rose. His words: “Its better to put a $.50 rose in a $5.00 hole than a $5.00 bush in a $.50 cent hole. Dig it deeper and wider.”
We added some new members and others (particularly my recruits dropped out). We definitely exhibited at the Marin County Fair right from the beginning. We also had an annual rose show at the Marin Civic Center, with ribbons, certificates and prizes—although you were encouraged to donate any cash you won to the Society. We also would sell the roses after the show. I can’t remember the amount of the dues but recall that as far as the Klimas were concerned, everyone was a member of the American Rose Society. It wasn’t a choice. And I suspect the Klimas made up any financial shortfalls. During this period I believe some of the first trophies were donated – The Netboy, Bennett and Muzio.
I would see Joseph from time to time, usually at the Kentfield Post Office, where he brought an enormous bouquet of roses every week. In his gentlemanly fashion, he always asked about the family and was happy to hear I still had an interest in roses. So many visitors at the Post Office would comment on how beautiful the roses were. All they knew is they came from a kind man who lived in Kent Woodlands. Most of them never knew of Joseph’s world-wide reputation and the high honors he and Marion had been accorded. It was the measure of the man that he always thought first to share the beauty of the rose with as many people as possible. We were privileged to know them both.
Later Years of the Marin Rose Society
Written by Lenore Ruckman and Gail Trimble
Lenore joined the MRS in 1984 after seeing Joseph and Marion’s roses at the Marin County Fair, and with their encouragement entered hers for the first time. Joe and Marion were at the Fair every day and evening talking to the public about how to grow good roses in Marin. They invited her to attend Marin Rose Society’s meeting to learn more. The officers then were: Marion Klima, President; Renato Bisso, 1st VP; Fred Ageno, 2nd VP; Marie Slovek, Secretary; Joseph Klima, Treasurer; Marian Forde, Editor; and Directors George Lewey, Eleanor Moser, Mary Early, and Earline Grim.
In 1991, Ed Beddard was President but in July he had to resign because of a heart condition, so Lenore took over for the remainder of the year as President. She remained President through December, 2000.
When Gail joined in 1988, the monthly meetings were at West America Bank in Mill Valley where they had moved to in August of 1986. The meetings were moved to the Salvation Army Community Center in San Rafael in 1991 and to the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross in 1992. We became an affiliate member of Marin Art & Garden Center in January, 2002 and will have our first public rose garden there in March of 2004.
Our annual rose shows were held at Marin Art & Garden Center in conjunction with their Spring Flower Festival through 1995. In 1996 and 1997 we moved our show to the Corte Madera Town Center. From 1999 to the present, we have held our shows at Northgate Mall, San Rafael, usually the day before Mother’s Day. We have found that even though there is the inconvenience of limited water and grooming areas, holding our rose shows in a mall provides high public visability and results in several new members every year.