Floral Industry Remembers First Lady Barbara Bush, AAF

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Floral Industry Remembers First Lady Barbara Bush, AAF

Barbara Bush’s eight grandsons carry her casket out of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston on Saturday. In 1990, the former First Lady was inducted into SAF’s American Academy of Floriculture. Terril Nell, Ph.D., AAF, first attended the Society of American Florists’ Congressional Action Days in Washington, D.C., in 1990 — which just happened to be the year that a group of SAF members traveled to the White House to bestow an industry honor on a very special honoree. Standing in the Yellow Oval Room, once used as John Adams’ drawing room, the SAF group was greeted by First Lady Barbara Bush, who was being inducted that day into the American Academy of Floriculture, in recognition of her lifelong long of flowers and gardening. “I remember she greeted everyone personally, and that she was very gracious talking about her love of gardening,” said Nell, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida, former SAF president and the current research coordinator for the American Floral Endowment. “When she got to me and saw ‘University of Florida’ on my name tag, her whole demeanor changed. She said, ‘Do you know my Jeb? I had to tell her that no, I didn’t know her son, and then she immediately said, ‘Well, I really hope you get to meet him some day.’ I’ll never forget how genuine she was, how her whole face lit up when she talked about her family.” Red Kennicott, AAF, another former SAF president, shared a similar memory. Kennicott traveled from Chicago for the event, bringing along his youngest daughter, Sarah, a high schooler at the time, to meet the First Lady. “Mrs. Bush was extremely generous and kind to all of our group and especially to the younger people, both with her time and interest, and in allowing photos,” he said. SAF oversaw the flowers and floral design teams for the inaugurations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Barbara Bush died last week at the age of 92, and when mourners gathered over the weekend at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston to celebrate her long life, flowers played a central role in the services. Pictures of the First Lady’s casket, adorned with an elegant spray of roses in springtime hues, ran on news shows and in publications around the globe. Bill McKinley, the director of Texas A&M’s Benz School of Floral Design, created two wreaths near Barbara Bush’s gravesite. He was among the many designers who helped create floral tributes to honor the beloved First Lady. Bill McKinley, the director of Texas A&M’s Benz School of Floral Design, created two wreaths near her gravesite. He used pink roses, sprigs of cherry blossoms (a reference to the Bush family’s time in D.C. and China) and foliage intended to honor her gardening love. He also draped a string of faux pearls along the stands. “Obviously it was an honor and a privilege to be able to pay tribute to such a well-respected, iconic, almost personality in […]