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-Bob Riffle has passed away

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SunnyFl

(Diane Kirkland @ Aug. 13 2006,10:07)

QUOTE
Beautiful Words

Bob Riffle had a dictionary vocabulary.

and...

RLR was only willing to simplify the book to a point and beyond that he felt that intelligent people who wanted to learn needed to make a little effort.

Thank you so much for writing this ongoing story, although it must be very difficult after his passing.  It is so good to learn more about this incredible man - and more about what went into these beautiful books and how they came to be.

The most amazing thing about each of them is how you can lose yourself in them.  The English is wonderful - it flows.  It's like painting a picture with words - and all so beautifully written; the depth of them is amazing, probably for the very reason stated above - his refusal to oversimplify.  Both are treasured escapes from life's cares.

I didn't get much done yesterday.  It feels as if I've lost a best friend - someone who I never met, but loved nonetheless.  How much harder it must be for those of you who were close to him.  My deepest sympathies go out to you.

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palmazon

I only knew him through this board and The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms, but his love of plants, people, and piano makes him a standout in my book.

  • Upvote 1

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Diane Kirkland

Robert Lee Riffle Online

RLR was in his comfort zone on forum boards.  What he revealed of himself was always true and accurate (except in his physical descriptions – no one could be that horrifying!).   A lot of the personal information coming from me now was readily available for the asking but he preferred to stick to his favorite subjects of palms and tropical plants.  Well, he didn’t mind a mild diversion to music, pianos, movies or TV shows….

If you posted in this forum (or others he read), then he knew you.  He noticed everyone and remembered who they were and where they were.  And if he corresponded with you either on the board or PM, he remembered it.  

If you read his messages and his books, then you knew him.  Your loss is as real as it feels.

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elHoagie

I heard the news when Danny (Palmazon) called me this morning.  I'm deeply saddened to learn about Bob's passing.

I never intended to be a palm lunatic, I just started growing a few king palms, a Bismarckia, and a triangle in the front yard.  Then, maybe three years ago, my wife bought me An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms as a gift.  I couldn't put the book down, and I soon went from a recreational palm guy to a complete nut case.  Thanks Bob, and I'm sure my wife doesn't regret purchasing your book too much...

Jack

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amazondk

I first had contact with Bob when I got involved in the palm forum last year.  Even though he had never been to Amazonia he had a tremendous feeling for our place.  Anyone with such a love of nature must have a great place in the afterlife.  We are all nature and he had such great admiration for that which makes our planet beautiful.  Unfortnately I did not get to meet him as I had intented last year.  Even though he never made it to Amazonia he surely made it here in spirit.

dk

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Keith in SoJax

Oh Gosh, I am so sorry to read this thread!  I never met Robert, but I conversed with him about some photos he needed for his new book.  I was kind of starstruck to be conversing with the co-author of my favorite palm reference book and I looked forward to meeting him at some upcoming meeting.  My condolences to his friends and family!  As a child growing up near St Louis, I remember falling in love with palms on a vacation to some mild winter climate near the ocean.  Despite being a palm obsessed professional horticulturist, Robert and Paul's Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms stoked the fires of my passion and taught me things I never knew about palms.   I hope Robert's spirt finds a beautiful, peaceful, restful, tropicalesque place in the hereafter.  

Quietly grieving,

Keith

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JakeK

My thoughts and prayers are with your family Robert. Thank you for sharing your life's passion with others. You will be missed greatly.

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Jason in Orlando

I didn't know Bob personally, but I learned so much from his posts and his literature.  It's ironic.  I was with my roommate at Sunken Gardens yesterday afternoon, and pointed out his book "The Tropical Look" to her, and mentioned that he was the moderator of the IPS forum.  I really am sad.  God be with his family and friends.

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The Palm Nut

Iam sorry to hear this sad news and even thou I didnt know the man, from all the comments he was obviously special, my condolences to his family and friends.

Mike

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Davidl

I pray God will comfort all of the family of Mr Riffle. Bob taught me a few things about palms that I am very greatful.What is a crownshaft was one of them. Bob will be missed by all who share his love for horticulture.

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Lee in AZ

What a loss for all of us. First and foremost for Bob's family and friends, also for all of us thirsting for his endless knowledge.

Thank you for all that you shared Bob.

Lee

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Walter John

Robert/Bob influenced/inspired me greatly in the palm world. Remember that thread he started about IPS membership ? Here I’ll refresh you; Bob posted this in June 18, 2004.

“How many of the participants here are members of IPS?  

If you're not a member would you tell us why?

And, if you are, would you tell us why?

Thanks!”

Robert Lee Riffle

Any way, after my frank reply to this and reading other people’s replies, and getting the general feel of Bob’s post and his work as moderator, I felt a strong urge to do something about palm society membership, not necessarily the IPS but at least my local chapter and PACSOA.

And on 21 July, 2004, a month after Bob’s first post of this thread, I posted this.

“It is with abundant pride that I announce that I am now a member of the Palm and Cycad Society of Australia.

My first meeting was last night which included a great film on New Caledonia Palms. Slow but worth the wait.

I also won a Burretiokentia vieillardii in the raffle.

Members Rule

cheers

Wal”

As time moved on, I became a constant reader and contributor to this forum, always propelled and enticed by other forum posts, and by the fine management of Mr Riffle and I’m sure other people assisting him to this grand journey I was on and am still on. I met and made friends within the local palm society I was now a member of, experienced wonderful outings and was even given the opportunity to be on the committee by being elected editor of our newsletter early this year, 2006.

I sent Bob a PM asking him to write an article for our newsletter. Not only did he do that, but he also gave me a personal wrap on my contributions to this board. Now I’m not barking here on whether I’m a good contributor to this forum, I just wanted to explain my reverence, respect and appreciation of the man we knew. He also sent me a PM asking for a copy of that Darwin slide show I created. I considered Robert my friend and I will miss him sincerely. Pretty strange having never met him. But there you go; I just wanted to say this.

Now I think it’s time to get back to the crux of Bob’s work here, palm talk, he wouldn’t want it any other way I’m certain. Bob had a great sense of humour and he would love and laugh seeing a lot of us planting a palm in his memory, and he would say, “some people will find any excuse to buy a new palm”.

As Dave said in the Roll Call thread, "Away we go again, off into the palmy yonder".

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Dave-Vero

Locally, I suspect that Heathcote Botanical Garden in Fort Pierce can use a few more palms.  It's (up until now) a modest garden, built by years of volunteer effort, including a very successful cleanup after the hurricanes of 2004.

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PhilPalma

This is very sad news.  My condolences to the family.

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Diane Kirkland

Blondes Really Are More Fun

During the writing of The Tropical Look and after, two more blonde females entered Bob Riffle’s life:  First, Connie Vackar, a feisty businesswoman who had her own tropical garden in Houston.  She and I became friends online, too, and she attended a 5-day garden tour of the Seattle area that I arranged for about 14 people from the Gardening Forum on CompuServe.  We discussed RLR at great length during that visit and she went home with a mission.

Connie dragged Bob even further out of his shell, introduced him to her favorite nursery owners and others who could help promote his book.  She helped build the self-confidence he had every right to feel and made an important contribution to his personal life.

A few years later Bob’s doorbell rang in the afternoon; he was actually up (he was a true night person) and dressed and for some reason answered the door.  It was a neighbor with a petition; a very attractive businesswoman (he called her “Ms. Em”) who had an active social life in Houston.  The petition pertained to something Bob was enthusiastic about, and they became immediate and fast friends.  She popped him the rest of the way out of his shell and the person you all know here had finally evolved.   Emilee also helped promote Bob’s book and introduced him to people around town who became a part of his life.  

A good friend of mine, Sean Hogan, once told me “You’ll never get rich writing garden books.”  This was true.  The cost of living was high in Houston. Timber Press was making noises about a palm book and Bob decided to take advantage of the Houston housing market and sell and move to Florida where he’d be close to his beloved palms and Fairchild where he could write the next book.  

To be continued…

Diane (“Kirkland”) Laird

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bgl

It's certainly true that Bob was a night person. I typically check my e-mails (and the IPS Forum!) one last time around 10 p.m. local (Hawaii) time. During the summer we're 6 hours behind the East Coast, so when I'm getting ready to turn off my computers for the evening, it's already 4 a.m. in Florida, but Robert Riffle was almost always one of the few names shown for those active on the Forum at that time! I'm definitely going to miss not seeing his name there!

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BS Man about Palms

I too had noted the response times of Bob and wondered when he ever slept!

Diane- I greatly appreciate each and every post you are able to make. It helps all of us to have a deeper affinity for the great man "RLR".

Thank you Diane,

Thank you Bob for your riveting life in horticulture.

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chris78

This is so sad!!! I did not know Bob was RLR....I got his books that I love so much near my bed. Cultivated Palms and The Tropical Look.....My prays will go for him and his family.....

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PalmsZA

Very sad to see this.

Diane and others thanks for those words of insight into Bobs life.

Regards

Dennis

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Tyrone

I really like the idea of planting a palm in Bob's honour. It's still winter here, not really time to start planting, but soon it will be Spring in earnest. I think I'll plant something quite special and rare, maybe put a small little message in front of it, and post a picture when I do it. I'm thinking a Beccariophoenix madagascariensis southern form, the rarest. Do you reckon he'd have liked that? It will be the RLR part of the garden.

best regards

Tyrone

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Walter John

I'm thinking Carpoxylon

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Diane Kirkland

An Aside

When someone dies, it’s often awkward and difficult to find words you feel would mean something or would comfort.  I can now tell you that this is one time vocabulary is unimportant.  Each and every message is comforting, because it shows that the life lived touched other lives in a positive way.

I’ve given a link to this section to family and friends who are not members of the forum and they are reading along with us.  One of them is Jean Smith.

As usual, Bob landed in a spot in Florida directly across the street from yet another woman who became a beloved friend, Jean Smith.  

Bob loved dogs (cats, too) and Jean has 5 or 6 pugs.  Although 81, she tried to bully him into buying healthier food, exercising, and generally taking better care of himself.  

Jean has the bittersweet task of looking out her window at the house empty of Bob but surrounded by the palms he planted.  She promised me she’d take pictures, so I hope I can share those with you.  Here is an excerpt of an email I got from her yesterday after she read this section:

“you are so right, he was a beloved man..............I saw so little of this "palm" side of him, as I knew him he was my neighbor, helper if I needed help, procrastinator of rules, meals, doctors, and anything and everything. I used to take him to the Dr. and listen to the complaints afterwards, he did not like medical authority at all.  Thank you very much for sending me that, I have printed it out for all my family to read. My grandson Colby Johnson, just finished putting in about fifty Areca Palms in his back yard for him, all around the yard, he wanted complete privacy from all the neighbors, I am sure he told you over the years, about the junk yard dog next door, the kids on the other side that threw beer cans over the fence, the guy in the read, that built a new house, and cut down all the palms trees on his property, we had a running hate forum for all of them.........just funning of course............but I loved his humor, he was such a brain, but couldn't figure out the water softener on the pump, he was not a mechanic at best.............sorry I have rambled on, must go, best to you.........please keep in touch”  

Bob mentioned a couple times over the years that his “wife” lurked here.  That reference was to me – from across the country I was his left brain, helping with the business side of his life and solving domestic mysteries (how to clean a stainless steel kitchen sink instead of having it replaced), his cheerleader, his life coach, his source of unconditional love and his most ardent fan.  The reason I lurked here is that I couldn’t bear to miss a word that Robert Lee Riffle wrote.  

It’s very difficult for me to venture out of this section to the other threads right now knowing I won’t bump into one of his messages.  However, the thread where people are talking about planting a palm in Bob’s hono(u)r / memory gave me a laugh.  If Bob had read your using his word “beautiful” because of something I said, he would have been on the phone immediately; ostensibly to chastise me but truly because he would have been delighted.  

And you’re right, he’d love any excuse to plant another palm and he would be incredibly touched at the thought.  Do it!  And please post a picture of the little one here – even if it looks like a blade of grass.  If you don’t have the means to post a picture, just tell us about it, where it’s located, its name and…is it the most beautiful palm in the world?

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BobbyinNY

Oh my god!!!!.... i JUST found out about this Now...... I can't believe it... He seemed so very much alive...... Very Sad :( ........

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redant

I never met Bob, it's a shame too as we lived fairly close. Truly a wonderful person who seemed to get great enjoyment from what nature gave us. Will be greatly missed by all.

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Kathy

Oh, I've been away and have returned to the most stunning of news here.

Diane, your words are so soul-touching;  please continue your stories.

RLR, I have only known you from this forum for only the shortest of while, and I have been so touched by your amazing dry wit and keen intelligence.  I looked forward to meeting you someday, and I suppose it will now be some eternity.  We all know you have botanical work to continue now in another realm, or work of beauty of some sort, music or sight.

It is the mark of great intelligence to see beauty in everything, to see creation and simplicity in the most complex, to see form and function as an evolving symphony.  RLR, it is your beautiful spirit that we celebrate here.  We miss you terribly, already.

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palmtreesforpleasure

Bob Riffle  will live on in all our memories.

He has left a wonderful legacy by inspiring many thousands of people to to have a love of tropical gardening and especially a love of palm trees. He shared it with all of us, creating a real sense of belonging to this forum and the palm community.

His books motivated me to planting successfully a lot of species that are not planted anywhere near the climate we have. He will be missed but he lives on in all our memories.

we wish all his family and friends our best thoughts

thank you Dianne for sharing your memories with with us.

regards

colin

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Matt in SD

I was offline all weekend and noticed some odd posts regarding RLR in the main forum...planting palms in RLR's honor.  I knew what that meant, but had a hard time really believing it.  Reading through this thread really cements the magnitude of this loss.  My condolences go out to his family and friends.

While I never met him or even developed much of a direct "cyber" friendship, it is very clear to me that this message board moved to a completely different level under Bob's supervision.  It's so active, informative, and just plain fun to be here that it's sometimes hard to get back to work.  I also have both of Bob's books (Tropical Loook and the Enc of Cult Palms) which are really bibles for me.  I honestly look up something in one of these books nearly every day.  I always thought it was special that the guy who compiled and wrote these great information sources was just a click away on the palm board.  

This is really a loss for an enormous number of people.  

Matt

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DoomsDave

(Tyrone @ Aug. 14 2006,06:58)

QUOTE
I really like the idea of planting a palm in Bob's honour. It's still winter here, not really time to start planting, but soon it will be Spring in earnest. I think I'll plant something quite special and rare, maybe put a small little message in front of it, and post a picture when I do it. I'm thinking a Beccariophoenix madagascariensis southern form, the rarest. Do you reckon he'd have liked that? It will be the RLR part of the garden.

best regards

Tyrone

On Saturday, I planted a palm in RLR's honor at my place, a 5-gallon Brahea brandeegii.

RIP, RLR.

dave

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Walt

When I last visited Bob at his home in White City he had planted a row of Ficus altissima  'variegata' along the south property line. He told me he wanted to screen off some of his undesirable neighbors. I told Bob the F. altissimas will surely provide a screen but, they are liable to displace your entire house in a few years if you let them get out of control.  The inference I got from his expression was that he'd cross that bridge when the time came.

5-1/2 year old Ficus altissima of mine that I told Bob was developing into a monster

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Sdeez3

Oh No!!!!! I'm sorry to hear about this great loss of a person whom I've had nothing but respect for. Sending my condolence to his family and close friends. One of the main reasons I joined IPS. He will be surely missed................... :(

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oppalm

I have lurked here reading posts for months.    Logged on today and read of the passing of Bob Riffle   :(  .  My heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.  

I always thought it was pretty cool to be reading posts and then come across Mr Rifflles' name in response to a comment or question.    He was truly dedicated to this forum and sharing his knowledge of palm trees

godspeed.

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SunnyFl

(Dave from So-Cal @ Aug. 14 2006,13:44)

QUOTE

(Tyrone @ Aug. 14 2006,06:58)

QUOTE
I really like the idea of planting a palm in Bob's honour. It's still winter here, not really time to start planting, but soon it will be Spring in earnest. I think I'll plant something quite special and rare, maybe put a small little message in front of it, and post a picture when I do it. I'm thinking a Beccariophoenix madagascariensis southern form, the rarest. Do you reckon he'd have liked that? It will be the RLR part of the garden.

best regards

Tyrone

On Saturday, I planted a palm in RLR's honor at my place, a 5-gallon Brahea brandeegii.

RIP, RLR.

dave

I love this idea.  Won't be able to do it right away - but I have picked out the species, somehow will find one.  

In the forum, we had discussed a photo in the ECP, it's of a morrissii that grows by the big stone staircases at Fairchild - I know he liked that palm.  And I remember him telling me that he'd taken that photo himself.   So I think maybe that should be the species.  I hope he would have liked the choice.

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Licuala

Bob is gone ............................... or is he?  He will live on in all our hearts and his books.   I have read each and every one of the posts and I can tell you he would be humbled .............. and blushing by all the heart felt fondness felt by everyone toward him.    

Knowing Bob as I did, his loss has affected me greatly.  Diane, your words and stories capture the side of Bob that few knew. I thank you for sharing them at a time, I know, is excruciatingly painful for you.  

Having worked with Bob on the Encyclopedia was a vast learning experience for me.  Bob was by far the principle author - his way with words has no equal.  Of course when writing we discussed various details regularly and yet I never learned that much about him.  He never talked much about himself.  If asked, he would tell me things, but he never volunteered much information about himself.  Plants were his true love.  Not much else seemed to matter.  

I will miss him!

Paul

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Jana

Losing Bob has me way beyond sad.  He was one of my very favorite people on the planet.  I guess I'll have to say he's one of my favorite people in the universe now.  Bob, I hope and wish that you are in a better place now. I will miss you terribly.

Like many of my very best friends, I knew him online first.  Back in those days I was running a message board called Tropical Attitudes.  Corpus Christi sure feels like the tropics at times, but truly tropical it isn't.   Bob found that message board and started answering questions.  This was before the Tropical Look was complete, so I didn't know of Robert Lee Riffle at the time.

It did not take long to realize how erudite, eloquent, and humble he was.  I thanked him for his participation at the forum and in passing he mentioned that he was writing a book.  He sent me an autographed copy when it was first published.  The book was The Tropical Look, and it's not just a book, it's an encyclopedia!   I was so honored to be the recipient of such a wonderful piece of work, signed by the person who created it.

I am having trouble recalling if it was signed when it arrived or if he signed it after we became friends in real life.  And even more truthfully, it wasn't given to just me.  It was given to me and my then husband.  When the marriage unravelled and it was time to divide the household, I made a list of the top 10 things I wanted to keep.  The signed copy of The Tropical Look was on that list.  I treasure it now more than ever.  And I treasure the friendship we developed over the years.

He lived in Texas when I first knew him.  He moved to Florida in 2000.  I can remember when he moved because I still have the calendar that he brought to the 1999 Palm Society of South Texas Christmas party.  We have a tradition of swapping palm-related gifts.  I was the lucky one to receive what Bob had brought -- a 2000 calendar with a picture of Jubaea chilensis in native habitat in Chile.  That was the last time he attended one of our meetings.  I was sad to see him leave Texas but we kept in contact intermittently.

Over the last two years, we got to know each other more than ever, despite the distance between Texas and Florida.  When I got the first message board for the IPS up and running, he was of course very keen on it and visited regularly.  When I reached a time when I had really had it up to my eyeballs with palm trees, I was able to recruit Bob to be the moderator of the forum.  The message board has been through several incarnations since that Matt's script that ran the very first one.  During the time Bob was moderator, he made many changes.  When it crashed beyond my ability to get it fixed, he was the motivating force to get it reincarnated once more.

He was the best thing that happened to the forum in a long time.  And it could have kept getting better.  Except now he is gone.  I miss his voice on the other end of the line.  He was a huge part of my support system when I got diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently received an arduous series of treatments.

I always try to find anything good to come out of something bad.  It's very possible that my illness gave us so much more to talk about than server space, bandwidth, software and the antics going on in the palapa.  We would rail against social injustice, lament over various ailments, despise the insanity of our health care system, yet we would always find something to laugh about along the way.  He would lift me up, and I think I did the same for him too.  I hope so.

It pains me grievously to know he's no longer a phone call away.  I enjoyed working with him and getting to know him better.  There was much yet to be done and he had plans to do it.

I have been involved with the IPS website since 1997.  A very slow moving transition has been behind the scenes for the last two years.  It has been my sincere desire during all that time for the IPS to have something better than they ever had before.  Thanks to Bob, we all had that at least for a while.  I think Bob would be very pleased if palmtalk continues as the best forum for palm trees in the world.  Big shoes to fill, that's for sure.  I know he would especially be pleased if we all made efforts to ditch the use of common names.  I love you and miss you Bob.   Because of you, I will add that extra 'i' at the end when I say roebelenii, and I will think of you every time I do.  

Jana

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palmsrgreat

While I did not know Bob personally, I have recognized him as a leader and well-respected member of the IPS forum.

I offer my condolences to his family and friends.

The stories I have been reading seem to speak as to what kind of man he was.

God Bless.

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iamjv

The appreciative and overwhelming number of posts about Bob depict how this man touched so many people, near and far.  He certainly will be missed and yet, he'll have touched us forever.  At the link below, you'll find the best picture I could find of 'our' Bob.  

Bob PSST meeting

Jv

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steve 9atx

Unbelieveable!  I can't believe I actually posted today and missed reading the news.

Robert Lee was a true Southern gentleman who despite his encyclopedic knowledge suffered fools like me and our endless silly questions with grace, never condescension.

It always gratified me that the same old Washingtonias and CIDP's in the same neighborhoods in Houston began his palm fascination as did my own.  

I am just starting to try to germinate some Hyphaene petersiana seeds.  If they make it, I plan to donate them to the Houston Zoo next year with a suggestion that they let me install a little plaque recognizing Robert Lee.  This palm is supposed to be 9a, but I know there'll be a little zone 11 around his name.

Steve

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Diane Kirkland

Bob's Sister Asked Me To Post This Message...

Words will never express how much your prayers and your love for my brother mean to me. He can never be replaced and will always be loved.

Bob Riffle's Sister and family

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Diane Kirkland

Another friend heard from....

Larry Schokman of The Kampong asked me to post this message:

I had the pleasure of knowing Bob for over 15 years, and am very sad to hear that he passed away last Friday, after an "18 hour illness."

He was at The Kampong in June for the 5th International Tropical Flowering Tree Conference, and participated in most of the activities that lasted 2-1/2 days.

We first met when he was planning The Tropical Look. He stayed at The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden--former home of Dr. David Fairchild, who was one of Bob's icons. He also attended many of our TFTS meetings and participated in many discussions on plant nomenclature and horticulture.

I was honored to help him with this book, which included over 50 photographs of mine--most of them taken at The Kampong.

We have lost a good friend and a great plantsman.

Larry Schokman

The Kampong of the NTBG

Coconut Grove, FL

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Diane Kirkland

Resting in a Perfect Place

In a conversation with Larry Schokman today we discussed where Bob’s final resting place would be.  Bob had made me promise that he would be cremated; he threatened to come back and haunt me if I didn’t see this accomplished (how tempting!).  

Larry recalled a walk with Bob through the Kampong many years ago, and they stopped at the Adansonia digitata (you can see a photo of the trunk by RLR and a photo of the inflorescence by Larry on Plates 7 & 8 of The Tropical Look).  This tree at the Kampong is 99 years old and weighs an estimated 100,000 pounds.  The tree can live to be thousands of years old and in other countries is a place to perform sacred rites and to bury and remember ancestors.  

Larry offered this spot at the Kampong, under this wonderful old tree, as the place to scatter Bob’s ashes.  Bob’s sister and daughter and partner have accepted his very kind and thoughtful offer.  So Bob will be where his Tropical Look journey began – at the home of his childhood hero, David Fairchild.

We learned today that the cause of death was cardiac arrest; Bob was 65.

But this isn’t the end….I still have some more stories to tell; and when I’m telling them, I’m smiling and my heart is so filled with love for my great friend that the hurt clunks out onto the floor.  RLR would say, “Thud!”

ADANSONIA (ad-an-SO-nee-a)

Bombacaceae: The Bombax, Baobab Family

BAOBAB; MONKEY-BREAD TREE; DEAD RAT TREE

Immense spreading deciduous tree with massive trunk

Zones 10 and 11; marginal in 10a

Sun

Very drought tolerant

Almost any well drained soil

Propagation is by seed

The genus has 9 species of unusual and spectacular trees in the drier parts of Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Some consider them more grotesque than beautiful and in their harsh native environments they often are; but planted in areas with regular amounts of rainfall distributed more or less evenly throughout the year they can be strikingly beautiful and impressive ornamental additions to the landscape. In their native habitats the trees develop incredibly massive trunks with age--as much as 33 feet in diameter, the largest of any single-trunked tree--trunks that contain great pockets of water to see the plant through the dry seasons of their arid birthplaces.

Adansonia digitata (dij-i-TAHT-a) is native to the drier parts of tropical Africa and is sometimes planted as a specimen tree on estates and in parks. It makes a dramatic and spectacular landscape subject with its relatively short, immensely thick trunk and contorted limbs. The tree is usually deciduous in the winter months if the season is dry or cold, but in warm, moist winters it may be completely evergreen except for the briefest leaf fall just before the flowers appear. The blossoms are as unusual as the tree which produces them: they are pendulous on long stalks arising from the ends of the branches, usually before or with the new leaves. The petals are white, fleshy and do not last long; the pistil and stamens are on a short, thick stalk protruding (hanging) from the corolla, the female part hidden by the very numerous extended stamens which are purple in color. From these flowers within a few months are produced large, elongated, brown fruits which are suspended on long stalks from the ends of the sometimes leafless branches. The appearance of the fruit has given rise to the graphic vernacular name of “Dead-Rat Tree.” The leaves are large and very tropical looking, consisting of dark green, glossy, palmately compound 6-inch long leaflets from 5 to 9 in number, each with a strong and lighter colored midrib. It is a completely tropical species and will endure but a few degrees of frost. In addition, the plants will succumb in soils whose drainage is impeded in any way. The trees are reputed to live as long as 5000 years.

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