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Lewis, Charles A. (1924-2003) | Morse Department of Special Collections

Name: Lewis, Charles A. (1924-2003)


Historical Note:

Charles A. Lewis (1924-2003), known as the "Father of Horticultural Therapy," was a pioneer in the field of people-plant interaction and innovative horticultural programs.  He held a deep-seated belief in the positive effects of nature on people, and throughout his distinguished career he sought to share that beliefe with others.

Over more than 30 years in the horticulture field, Lewis was a plant breeder, a garden center operator, director of Sterling Forest Gardens in Tuxedo, New York, an administrator of collections and research fellow at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, and a consultant in people-plant interactions.

1924, Born on May 24 at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

1942, Enlisted in the Army and served as a weatherman in the Azores, Portugal

1949, Recieved a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Floriculture from the University of Maryland

1951, Received a Master's of Science Degree in Floriculture with a Minor in Genetics from Cornell University; Master's Thesis won an award from Ohio State University

1952, Lewis won the Alex Laurie Award from the American Society for Horticulture Science

1952-1956, Worked as a Plant Breeder at Yoder Brothers, Barberton, Ohio

1956-1960, Worked as a Grower and Garden Center Operator at Syosset, New York

1960-1972, Worked as Horticulturist and Director at Sterling Forest Gardens in Tuxedo, New York

1961, Married Sherrie Rabbino

1963-1972, Was an Advisor for the New York City Housing Authority Garden Contest

1967-1968, Was a Consultant to First Lady's (Claudia Alta 'Lady Bird' Taylor Johnson) Committee for a More Beautiful Capitol at the National Park Service

1972-1976, Was a Coordinator for the American Horticulture Society People/Plant Program

1972-1989, Worked asa Horticulturist and Administrator of Collection Programs at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois

1973-1987, Was an Advisor for the Chicago Housing Authority Garden Contest

1977, Was an Advisor for the British Columbia Housing Management Commission

1977-1980, Received a Certificate of Achievement from Vancouver Housing, British Columbia Housing Management

1978, Was a B. Y. Morrison Memorial Lecturer for the United States Department of Agriculture

1982, Was the recipient to receive the First Service Award from the Chicago Housing Authority

1983, Was a Visiting Instructor who taught a Horticultural Therapy Short Course at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas

1984, Received the Alice Burlingame Award for Humanitarian Service from the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture

1985, Received the G. B. Gunlogson Medal from the American Horticultural Society

1987, Received a Special Recognition Award from the New York City Housing Authority Tenant Gardening Competition 25th Anniversariy

1989-1992, Was a Research Fellow in Horticulture at the Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois

1990-1993, Was the Chair of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta

1991-1998, Was a Member of the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico

1992, Retired; Received the Arthur Hoyt Scott Award from Swarthmore College and the Bryn Mawr PA Award from the United States Department of Agriculture

1992-1994, Was Chair of the Human Issues in Horticulture (HIH) Committee, a sub-committee within the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA)

1992-1998, Was a Member of the American Community Gardening Association

1994, Co-Founder of People-Plant Council

1996, Published, Green Nature, Human Nature: The Meaning of Plants in Our Lives through University of Illinois Press; Received a Horticultural Therapy Award through the American Horticulture Society

1997, Received an Award from the American Horticultural Therapy Association

1998, Received an Award of Merit from the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta

2003, Died on December 18 from acute pancreatitis and heart complications at Albuquerque, New Mexico

Lewis published many articles on people-plant interactions in professional journals as well as in popular magazine and newspapers.  His 1996 book, Green Nature, Human Nature: The Meaning of Plants in Our Lives, is still required reading for every horticultural therapist.

Sources: Charles A. Lewis papers
Note Author: Cynthia A Harris





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