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Memorial Service April 27 for Horticulturalist Robert Stiffler

A memorial service will be held at Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG), 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 27, for J. Robert Stiffler, the long-time gardening columnist for The Virginian-Pilot and in whose name a faculty position in horticulture and botany was endowed at Old Dominion University and NBG. He died on January 20, 2010.

Stiffler was a household name in Hampton Roads, not only for the gardening column that he wrote for 28 years, but also for his book, "Gardening in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina." He was sought after as a speaker and led many garden tours across the United States and in Europe.

Stiffler was born and raised in Iowa. After retiring as a Naval officer he worked as the advertising manager for agricultural products with Barker, Campbell & Farley Advertising Agency in Hampton Roads. Bob retired from column writing at The Pilot in 2003 and moved to Lancaster, Penn., with his wife Dorothy May Stiffler, where he continued writing a gardening column for the Lancaster New Era.

A longtime friend of NBG, Stiffler worked with the horticulture department and shared his expertise by presenting many programs at the garden. He also helped to establish a link between the garden and botanists at ODU.

An anonymous $1 million donation in 2003 established the J. Robert Stiffler Chair of Horticulture and Botany, a partnership between ODU and NBG. The endowment provides funding for research by ODU students that benefits NBG as well as home gardeners. The Stiffler professorship is held by Timothy Motley, who also serves as NBG's Director of Science.

A Twilight Botanical Seminar Series, conducted by this partnership between ODU and NBG, offers free lectures throughout the year on a wide variety of horticultural topics. The seminar rotates between NBG and ODU.

Bob Stiffler's horticultural influence reached far and wide and will continue to influence gardeners for a long time.

The memorial service will be in the NBG Rose Garden Hall. There will be no admission fee to the garden for those attending the memorial service.

This article was posted on: April 14, 2010

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