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David Romney...Coconut Authority


Jeff Searle

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It is with a very sad heart that I pass the news along that Mr. David Romney has passed away a couple of days ago here in south Florida. I believe he was born in Jamaica where he lived many years and worked with the government in the study of coconuts, lethal yellowing and all the developments of newer varieties over the years. He , his wife Shirley and daughter Carol lived in the Homestead area for at least the last 30-40 years or so. The Romney's were always a big vendor at the Fairchild Botanical Gardens palm sales each and every year where many varieties of coconuts could be found. David was a true legend. Over the years, he wrote numerous papers, journals and books. His daughter Carol, still runs and operates their nursery business down in Homestead. And if that wasn't hard enough for the family, Shirley and David were married 58 years and she just passed away one week ago. I can't imagine the pain, sorrow and loneliness that Carol and her two daughters must be going through. David will truly be missed! RIP, my friend.

 

Jeff

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Searle Brothers Nursery Inc.

and The Rainforest Collection.

Southwest Ranches,Fl.

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This is very unfortunate to hear :( I never had the pleasure to meet Dave Romney, but my Panama tall came from him. 

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Keith 

Palmetto, Florida (10a) and Tampa, Florida (9b/10a)

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Sad to hear that news. I was thinking about him last week when I was showing a Somoan coconut bought from Dave years ago  .R.I.P.

Palms not just a tree also a state of mind

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dave Romney was Director of Research to the Coconut Industry Board, Jamaica from 1962 to 1979 and he will be remembered with respect, both for his dedication to developing a national Lethal Yellowing disease rehabilitation scheme and for the value, to the coconut community, of the results of the research he initiated.

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That is very sad news. Many in the South Florida horticultural scene knew him, and I feel very lucky to have met Dave and his wife Shirley at their beautiful farm in Homestead, and I also had a couple of long and very interesting phone conversations with him. He was a very kind and gentle man and was freely giving of his amazing knowledge, experience and talents. He remains a very important figure in 20th-century coconut cultivation and I believe in tropical agronomy in general. Their daughter Carol is very knowledgeable and really carries the torch. In re Jeff's comment above that he might have been born in Jamaica, I just did some quick research and see that he was born in Eastry (Kent), England, attended university at Reading and Oxford, and sailed for Jamaica in 1952. Though he obviously went almost immediately to what is now Belize and did important work there throughout the '50s, then returned to Jamaica for the '60s-'70s, then to Tanzania and finally Homestead. He and Shirley were obviously an adventurous pair! There is a detailed and very interesting rundown of his many accomplishments on the Romney Farm website. He seems to have packed two or three lifetimes into one. Condolences to Carol and the family.

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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  • 8 years later...

Hi, is there a way to get his book, Growing coconuts in South florida? I am not able to find it. Thank you

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8 minutes ago, Azer1989 said:

Hi, is there a way to get his book, Growing coconuts in South florida? I am not able to find it. Thank you

It was a self-published book. Dave made the copies himself and sold them at sales, meetings, his nursery, etc. I have two copies myself that I wouldn't sell for anything. 

Ryan

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South Florida

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Spoke with him many years ago at the Fairchild Gardens sale. He was engaging but incredibly knowledgeable about everything Cocos nucifera. Loved that vivid Jamaican accent. God bless.

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What you look for is what is looking

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7 hours ago, Palmarum said:

It was a self-published book. Dave made the copies himself and sold them at sales, meetings, his nursery, etc. I have two copies myself that I wouldn't sell for anything. 

Ryan

Do you happen to have a pdf version? I would like to read it please if possible.

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1 hour ago, Azer1989 said:

Do you happen to have a pdf version? I would like to read it please if possible.

Nope, no digital versions of it exist to my knowledge.

I wouldn't feel right creating one. That would be something his family would have to do. 

What is curious is that even though the book is complete and interesting, it only represented a tiny bit of his knowledge. Dave admitted this when questioned and mentioned a possible follow-up that would be even more comprehensive, if he had the time.

 

5 hours ago, bubba said:

Spoke with him many years ago at the Fairchild Gardens sale. He was engaging but incredibly knowledgeable about everything Cocos nucifera. Loved that vivid Jamaican accent. God bless.

Among his many wonderous quirks and quick-witted humor, was his ability to turn that accent on and off like a switch. He would do it on the spot to get a crowd's attention, catch you off guard while you're taking photos and to surprise a Jamaican family walking by. 

Ryan

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South Florida

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