John Bishock has passed away

53 posts in this topic

I visited John and Faith in the spring of last year with my friends Rick Blauman and Alan Shobert.

John greeted us and we began the tour of the yard.  John was calling me Eric (instead of Rob...my name).  I politely became Eric as to not embarass him.  It got very uncomfortable when John began giving me things in the name of the garden (which I determined was Leu Gardens).  I couldn't take it any more and had to tell him...John!  It's Rob Pittman from a week ago!  

Unfortunatey, I had to give up a Livistona nasmophyla.

We laughed about it and I affectionately became known as Eric to Alan and Rick.

It was a great time as always.  I miss John and hope that Faith is OK.

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John always had a smile and a tid bit of interesting information to pass on to anyone who he encountered.  I will miss his good humor and gentle spirit at the Miami sales and future biennials.

My condolences go out to Faith who always seemed to be the perfect compliment to John in her enthusiasm for not just palms, but for life in general.

Dan Keys

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Oh, again a very sad new. It was an honour to be in touch with him with long messages about palms.-

Here`s another palm friend who will remember him.- Gaston Torres Vera, Argentina

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John extended friendship and kindness so easily and shared his knowledge of palms as readily.   John and Faith,  "the couple you hear before you see them", made every event more fun.

My wife, Paulette, and I enjoyed knowing John for only a few years but will remember him often and, undoubtedly, miss him.  Our thoughts are with Faith at this difficult time.

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We have put a short memorial page at the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society website for John, if anybody wishes to read the two tributes written by two of his friends Dave Witt and Chuck Grieniesen:

http://www.plantapalm.com/centralfl/jbishock.html

This link might change in the future, but you can always find it by going to the index page of the website.

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Wow....

I purchased more than a few palms from him and without a doubt my best Bamboo clumps from him.... RIP

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Tribute to John Bishock

by Chuck Grieneisen, Oviedo, FL

John Bishock was hard to describe. Possibly, if Ernest Hemingway was a palm nut it would be a fitting way to describe John. He was just so full of life and had a toughness about him. My last visit with him was just two and a half weeks before his untimely passing. He was taking chemotherapy, but was up and about around his pool. He even had all his hair. Even his hair was tough. That was why his passing was such a huge shock.  He certainly was a man who lived life with a capital "L".

I joined the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society (CFPACS) about 10 years ago. The society had one of their meetings at Faith and John's house around that time. This particular meeting featured a pig roast. I still remember clearly that first visit. John and Faith were always some of the most outgoing members of the society. They never seemed to have met a palm or person they didn't like. With that booming, gravely voice he would always be there with palm advice, and stories from his many travels with the International Palm Society (IPS). One of the last meetings he was at, he brought some Borassus aethiopum seedlings for our auction to raise money for the society. Since the bidding was so low, he bought them back from himself and as usual when things like these happened, he would say "It's for charity!"

I learned much from him (too much to list here). He lived in the inland Sarasota area. I live in Oviedo, a little north and east of Orlando. He was about 3 hours south of me but surprisingly he was in a colder spot than I was. This is how I learned that a Gastrococos crispa can take 23 degrees! He had one that took that temperature and survived.

My best times with him were when I started being a vendor at the South Florida Palm Society Fairchild sales (there usually is a spring and fall sale). He was the only other CFPACS guy there (they are two different chapters of the IPS). John invited me to stay with him and Faith and I did that while in Miami. The Miami area was John and Faith's old stomping grounds. They would ride around and tell me about Miami back in their days. John would show me some of the palms that he planted while living there. In particular, I remember one Attalea in their neighborhood with a 25 foot trunk. We stayed at Faith's mother's house. John had the mother-in-law's place well planted with palms. There was one particularly rare one I can remember his unique voice saying "Ptychosperma coccobona” (sp?). And after a "hard" day of selling at Fairchild we would drink beer by the pool and I would listen to his great palm stories. I think the most outstanding ones were the IPS trips to Thailand and New Caledonia (there were many more). I have never been to any of the IPS meetings (even a trip to Miami was a big deal to me!). It seems that he had been everywhere and seen every kind of palm. My greatest palm stories are the times that I spent with John and Faith in Miami. For me, it didn't get any better than that.

At the end of the Fairchild sales John would always give me a palm or two. He would just say "take one" .He always had some that I didn't have. I tried to return the favor but he always had every palm that I had. In all these years he only took one palm from me, a Borassus  (madagascarensis or sambiranensis, can't remember). After each sale I would start searching until the next sale to find a rare palm that he didn't have. As you already know, it didn't work very well, if at all. At least I did manage to give him some cycad species that he didn't have.

We had two regular CFPACS meetings at his place since I've known him. Like me, he had attended almost every regular CFPACS meeting. During our Miami trips he would always invite me to come visit him in Myakka. I heard about his new greenhouse and his various others projects and really wanted to visit his home since I knew any visit to his place would wind up around his pool drinking beer and BS'ing about palms!

Somehow, after each Fairchild sale I would realize and couldn't believe that I hadn't visited him at Myakka. I have a regular job and a palm and cycad nursery and was always behind in the nursery. I kept telling myself that after I get caught up re-potting and such I'll go visit John and Faith. I just never seemed to get caught up. It now seems the ultimate irony that the thing that brought us together had kept me from visiting him as much as I would have liked.

John was never too busy, or too sick, to receive visits from any of his friends. I had known about his cancer when I heard some other CFPACS friends were going to visit him. I didn't go with them, but went a day or two later. On that last visit, 18 days before he died, John gave me seeds of two species of palms. Indeed, at his funeral, I heard from one of his closest friends that a day or two before his last day on earth John took him around one last time in his golf cart and told him where to plant out some of his palms.

At his funeral there was a who's who of palm people from around the state. One friend who used to drink rum with John after the Fairchild sales drove up from Miami. That may seem unusual, unless of course, you have met John.

He was truly a "salt of the earth" type of person. I know that every palm meeting, sale and auction will be much blander now that John Bishock is gone.

P.S. I remember one more story that is "classic" John Bishock and unfortunately, "classic" me. After one of CFPACS's meetings, John wound up with a big paper grocery bag 3/4 full of Archontophoenix seeds. There were thousands of seeds in the bag. I asked him what he was going to do with all those seeds. He owns some acreage around where he lives (and at the time a Harley Davidson golf cart) and he said he was going to drive around his property in his golf cart and just throw out the seeds as he went, just to see what would grow where... I was too busy for that. Now I think of the time we would have had. So if there is anyone that you owe a visit to...

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Judy and I met John at the 2000 IPS Biennial and he always had a warm smile and palm story to share with us in at least the six or seven times all of us got together since that meeting. He will be missed. Faith treated us as long time friends also and with that Faith our prayers are with you and your loved ones.

Paul and Judy Norris

Houston, TX

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I miss John. He had plenty of good advice! Thank you Faith for continuing his spirit!

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John - you are really missed. Although time continues to move on, my memories of our time together have not diminished. It is surreal that you are not with us any longer. At each palm event I still feel that you will come around the corner with your piercing blue eyes and warm smile.

I cannot help but think of you every day. The Copernicia eckmanii and Acrocomia aculeta you gave me years ago are planted by my entrance gate. They are a testament to our friendship and a living legacy of your love of palms.

Rest in Peace my brother!

Ron.

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Every March I would make my annual trip to John's place to stock up on new species of palms. John always seemed to have something new (at least new to me) in the way of palm species.

I would estimate that 50% of the palm species I'm growing I bought (or was given) from John. I say given as John would always throw a freebie or two in. Sometimes he would give me a non-palm item.

One plant he gave me was a Bambusa textilis. It was just a cut off culm in a huge root ball (took two men and a boy to heft onto the back of my pickup truck).

I planted the bamboo in April of 2004. It has grown nicely for me and is a welcome addition to my garden -- and a constant reminder of John.

Here's what the bamboo looked like after planting:

2000885710042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

Here's what the bamboo looks like now:

2881296700042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

2506578010042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

100_9544.jpg

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A great guy, Faith, I think of you both often....

Jeff

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I was digging through some old photos the other day and found this one of John, taken back in happier times in '00. We had just toured Mark Daish's garden and nursery in Babinda, FNQ.

post-42-1241615467_thumb.jpg

regards,

Daryl

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