R I P Ralph Velez

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Everyone:
 
We are deeply saddened to inform that Ralph Velez, one of our longest-serving members, has passed away, on April 24th, 2018, in a hospice in Orange County after a long illness. 
 
He will always be remembered for his lifelong enthusiasm about palm culture and a long serving member of the IPS, as well as the Palm Society for Southern California.. 
 
More details will be provided when they become available.
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I had no idea that he was in hospice. This is truly a sad day for our palm community of friends. My sincere condolences to his family. I am so thankful to be able to say that like so many others, I had the opportunity to know Ralph and made two visits to his garden.

Jeff

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Ralph will be missed. It was great to see him at the PSSC meeting at Sherman Gardens just a few months ago.

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Sad indeed for this great community. I'm honored that we shared the same passion and wish his family the best during this difficult time.

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So sorry to learn this bad news.  Ralph had a lot of medical issues for many years, I never heard him complain, not even once.  :(

I have been accused of being the 'Ralph Velez of the North'.  I think I will go out now and plant a few more palms, too close together! 

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I did not know Ralph personally, but I do know he was a great contributor to the palm community. I had the pleasure of meeting Ralph when the PSSC toured my garden in 2016. When ever I go to South Coast Plaza I think of Ralph. Rest in peace Ralph.

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By happenstance Don Hodel, Bob Burtcher and Walt Frey had come by to tour my own garden today and it's indirect tribute to Ralph Velez, (Loving palms so much you plant as many as you can... ultimately too close together) when Don got a text noting Ralph had passed away. Sad news indeed and one of the pioneers of the Palm Society. Glad he was at the banquet and that I got to visit Ralphs place several times.

He will be missed indeed.

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Such sad news. 

My first PSSC meeting was the annual banquet in 2009. I didn't know anyone there and was lucky enough to sit at a table next to Ralph. He was very friendly and invited me to his garden. I think it was within a week that I was there and was completely blown away by the tropical piece of paradise he had created.  

Over the years I would visit his garden several more times and one of my personal highlights was having him visit my Fallbrook garden as part of the PSSC tour in March 2016. This was 7 years after I first visited his garden and by then I had completely "Velezed out" my garden!  After the meeting I received a very nice letter in the mail from Ralph, complimenting me on my garden. What an honor that was to receive from one of my biggest inspirations. 

Ralph will truly be missed! 

IMG_0636.thumb.JPG.857fe2b92870c31dfe146

(my first visit to Ralph's garden in 2009)

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Mourning as I type 

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That's a really nice picture, Jason. Thanks

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:crying:

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I am truly saddened to learn that Ralph is no longer with us. We'd be hard pressed to find someone more unique than Ralph, and I also don't know of anyone else who've had their name made into a verb (as in "Velezing one's garden"). That all by itself is a tribute to what Ralph stood for, not to mention what a friendly and generous person he was. I was fortunate to know Ralph from very early on when I first joined the PSSC (and the IPS) in the early 1990s, and I made several trips from San Diego up to Westminster to visit him and to buy palms from him. It was an interesting turn of events that a few years later when I had decided to move to Hawaii that I was the one to sell palms to Ralph when I was liquidating my "container ranch". And throughout the years, whenever I stopped by to visit Ralph at his home, he was very happy (and so was I! :) ) to show me the large Bismarckia at the end of his cul-de-sac, since that was one of the palms he acquired from my collection. At the time (1994) it was in a 5 gallon pot, and it has done really well since Ralph planted it. Ralph may be gone but his legacy will surely live on, both in our hearts and by what he accomplished.

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I learned of his death. I knew him through his articles and the video. What work he could do to increase the possibility of acclimatization of palm trees in California. May he rest in peace in palm paradise.

 

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So sorry to hear about Ralph

I had the pleasure of visiting his amazing packed in collection twice - once in 2010 and again with dooms Dave in 2013

 

 

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I'm very saddened to here this. I got the pleasure of seeing his garden several times. I feel like my garden is going to Velezed out soon. 

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Je suis Ralph Velez !  :greenthumb:

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Ralph and Pauleen (Sullivan) are the reasons I developed an interest in Palms many years ago.  I cannot imagine many bigger NUTs for palms that Ralph, nor anyone more truly frustrated by the widespread planting of Sycamores and Pine trees in southern California when really Palms are what should have been planted everywhere.  He was manic about it for years and I couldn't help but admire his dedication and enthusiasm for getting more people and communities interested in palms.  There will be no one to replace this remarkable person and I miss him so much already.  

No one could plant as many palms in as small a space as Ralph could.  I visited him many times and nearly always he was in the garden weeding, fertilizing, pruning or planting... even though there really was NO PLACE to put a single plant left... but he would find one, often digging out the soil (and even digging into the bark or roots) of abutting palms to cram another one in between... amazingly the new palm, nearly devoid of soil and any room to grow would do great and happily adjust to its new life in Ralph's yard despite its apparent impossible living situation.  He truly had a magic touch with palms (and all sorts of tropicals, too).... and he had a way with the city, too, which he somehow convinced to prune his entire palm garden against the street.  I couldn't even talk my city into allowing me to plant palms anywhere near the street.  Even most of his neighbors succumbed to his palm habit and most have palms in their gardens as well.  Good for Ralph!  

And Mile Square Park- ALL his idea... and he had to fight the city for that, too... but he won and now a nice palm garden exists in this park on a small 'island' with some wonderful palms for the public to enjoy.  He spent a LOT of time and money planting palms in the public view, partly for his own enjoyment at seeing wherever. he drove by.. but also to expose the rest of his city to the beauty of palms.  Despite his age, knee replacements and whatever else ailed him, he was basically an energizer bunny when it came to palms.  He should be an inspiration to us all.   Finally ran out of batteries I guess.  RIP Ralph.

Ralph Velez.jpg

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When I first joined the PSSC, Ralph's garden was the first meeting I attended outside San Diego. I had already heard the enthused descriptions of his jungle many times, but to see it in person was a "shock and awe" experience. Ralph was so friendly, and could talk with anyone about palms for as long as you wanted. 

I remember at the IPS Biennial in Costa Rica, which was open to collecting, he had all these seeds and little palms he had to pack up to take home. It didn't matter if he already had some of those species in his garden, he was like a kid in a candy store. As I remember, most of it was confiscated upon entry to the US, even though he had spent hours cleaning the collected items, and he was a bit downcast about that. His enthusiasm was infectious, as evidenced by his name becoming the verb for a certain style of palm planting which he popularized in Southern California and around the world. 

You will be missed, Ralph. Long live the "Velezed" gardens!

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Everyone, I've been advised that Ralph's son will keep and continue to maintain the garden.

Sherman Gardens was nice enough to agree to host a memorial service. It will be up to the son to decide what he wants to do, and when.

I'll advise as things develop.

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Posted (edited)

On 4/26/2018, 6:59:58, Brett in Mission Viejo said:

Ralph and his garden was featured on a Huell Howser California Gold episode in 1999:

https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/1999/10/03/palms-visiting-734/

Thank you Brett for posting the video. I'd never seen that episode and it was mesmerizing. I wish I had the pleasure of meeting Ralph in person. I'm glad his son took over for him now that he's no longer with us. I recently accepted his friendship on Facebook. 

Edited by Jim in Los Altos
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I saw the email about Ralph's passing. So sorry to lose a huge palm "fan" like him. I remember watching the Huell Howser video tour of his corner lot a few years back. He really created a special corner of the universe there. Seemed like such a nice guy too. Condolences to his family and all of his palm friends.

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I never got to meet Ralph but he and his garden inspired a young man, just getting into palms. Visiting Palmtalk, I came across pictures of his garden and was an instant fan. So impressed, was I, that I modeled my very own garden after Mr. Velez. 

It wasn't long into my obsession that I began to look up all things Ralph Velez; everything I came across portrayed a humble man who loved palms and his community. The way Ralph would give palms to his neighbors was a new idea to me and inspired me to do just the same. 

I often wonder what he would think about inspiring a young man, on the opposite coast, to pick up palms and make a career out of these wonderful monocots... I am sure he knew of the new words that came to be, due to him-Velezification and Velezified. I use those and will continue to do so. Ppsi-palms per square inch is something that comes to mind... Ralph's legacy will live on. 

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Ralph was a legend ,pioneer and a true inspiration to us all In the Palm community here in So Cal and across the globe.I am very happy I   had long talks with him at the PSSC meetings .He was a very kind human being with an infectious smile . His garden was all ways fun to walk. When leaving you felt like there was something you missed and were excited about returning to such a beautiflul jungle in the city .Rest in Peace ralph and may God bless your family as they celebrate your fun filled life You will be missed Cheers 

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