January 1, 2007

My father passed away in January, 2006. This was the introduction to our wholesale catalog for 2007.

As we wrap up another catalog, perhaps it is an appropriate time to pause and reflect upon the passing, at age 86, of Edward ‘Ted’ Gilson, and upon the Sixtieth anniversary of the company that he founded.

Ted grew up in South Euclid, Ohio, and served in the South Pacific during World War II. He attended Kent State University and The Ohio State University and, after working at a local nursery for a year, founded Gilson Gardens with his father in 1947. Upon the site of a previous nursery, they produced perennials, ground covers, shrubs and chrysanthemums. Over the years that followed, Ted grew a business and he grew a family. His wife, three sons and a daughter would all provide major contributions to the company.

Ted loved the nursery industry. He loved the soil and the greenhouses and the thrill of growing new things. He loved the nursery associations, serving as President of the Lake County Nurseryman’s Association, and the trade shows. He loved talking with newcomers and old-timers, with students and professors.

Despite Ted’s advancing lung cancer and Parkinson’s Disease, we enjoyed many visits and activities during his last year. But by Christmas 2005, it became clear that the trade shows and greenhouse puttering were behind him.

It is now left to us to remember the past and embrace the future.

Much has changed over the past sixty years In a way, Ted’s life and the growth of his company mirror the steady progress of an ever-evolving industry – the advancements in field and greenhouse production; the advent of container-growing; the computer age; the good years and the not-so-good; the development of well-trained and highly capable professional managers and the contribution of women in many of these roles; the double-edged changes in the marketplace as we enter a new millennium and a new reality. And yet, much remains the same – the long hours; the family involvement; a spirit of sharing and cooperation and innovation; the joy and fulfillment of working with plants and the soil; the belief in what we do and our positive contribution to society and the world around us.

It is left to us to meet the challenges and the opportunities of a new age while maintaining that which is meaningful and good. It is left to us to build our own legacy, to nurture and grow this positive and dynamic industry with all its wonderful history, to create, in a spirit of cooperation and conscientious stewardship, the sturdy limbs upon which others may one-day stand.

It is left to us – to carry on.