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2016 GCA Medalists

David Barnett

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts 

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded for distinguished service in the field of horticulture. The medal was designed by Elizabeth Rhodes Reynolds. It was presented and endowed in 1953 by Mrs. Robert D. Sterling, Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club, Zone I. Previous recipients include: Thalassa Cruso Hencken (1970), Harvey S. Ladew (1971), Marco Polo Stufano (1999), New England Wild Flower Society (2001).

Dr. David Barnett is dedicated to ecological, historically sensitive improvements at the 175-acre Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA. During his leadership, Mount Auburn has risen to the highest horticultural standards in its 184-year history. The landscape that inspired the rural cemetery and public parks movements welcomes 200,000 visitors annually.

Dave reclaimed early nineteenth-century and late Victorian style rustic landscapes, restored monuments and expanded the planting diversity. The wildlife habitats and popular contemporary gardens encourage active cemetery use. In 2012 Dave raised $2.4 million for an energy-efficient greenhouse, part of a planned Horticulture Center designed to achieve LEED platinum certification and illustrative of a systematic approach to recycle and reuse all organic materials. 

Passionately committed to public service and collaboration with other professionals, Dave served as president of the Horticultural Club of Boston and as president of the American Public Gardens Association and received its highest award, Honorary Life Member.

Proposed by: Cambridge Plant & Garden Club, Zone I

William D. Brinton

Rogers Towers, P.A., Jacksonville, Florida

The Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life. The medal was designed by sculptor, Charles Parks in 1979; it was endowed by Mrs. William K. Laughlin of the Southampton Garden Club, Zone III. Previous winners include Patrick F. Noonan (1984), the Outdoor Circle of Hawaii (1985), Wendell E. Berry (2008), U.S. Green Building Council (2009), Rossie Fisher (2012).

Attorney William D. Brinton specializes in First Amendment and land use litigation involving billboards and other signage. He received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from the University of Florida. He has consulted with local governments and scenic conservation organizations all over the country on issues involving scenic beauty and complex sign legislation. 

His fearless efforts to protect communities against the power of the outdoor advertising industry, and his policy of freely providing advice to muncipalities, have earned him numerous honors: the GCA Zone VIII Conservation Award, Scenic America’s Distinguished Advocacy Award, the International Municipal Lawyers Association’s Amicus Service Award (for his pro bono work), and Jacksonville Community Council’s Milestone Award for Citizen Advocacy.

William is one of Florida’s “Super Lawyers,” and recognized as Jacksonville’s Lawyer of the Year. He has served as president of the Jacksonville Bar Association, The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, and was co-founder of Citizens for a Scenic Florida and Scenic Jacksonville. 

Proposed by: The Late Bloomers Garden Club, Zone VIII


Carrol L. Henderson

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program, St. Paul, Minnesota

The Frances K. Hutchinson Medal is awarded to figures of national importance for distinguished service to conservation. The medal was designed in 1940 by Spaulding-Gorham Silversmiths of Chicago. The medal was presented and endowed by the Lake Geneva Garden Club, Zone XI, in memory of its founder, Mrs. Charles L. Hutchinson. Previous recipients include Rachel Carson (1951), Walt Disney (1954), former Secretary of State Stewart Udall (1965), Lady Bird Johnson (1968), and Roger Tory Peterson (1970).

Carrol L. Henderson has won an acknowledged reputation in the strategic restoration of diverse natural species and habitats beyond geopolitical borders. He has managed programs to save eastern bluebirds, river otters, and landmark trumpeter swans, contributing to the notable resettlement of these species within the lower 48 states.

Carrol is most famous for launching a “Chickadee Checkoff,” a tax filing option that funds surveys of wood turtles, ospreys, rattlesnakes and dragonflies, frog and toad research. The fund also supports heron rookery monitoring via remote cameras, as well as the protection and management of bald eagles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons and other species injured or at risk.

Long before “pollinators” became a buzzword, Carrol advocated landscape plantings to benefit butterflies, bees, moths, and hummingbirds in one of his 14 books, Landscaping for Wildlife. Book proceeds of over $1.4 million have been gifted to conservation programs. 

Proposed by: Saint Paul Garden Club, Zone XI

Longwood Gardens        

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania 

Mr. Paul B. Redman, Director

The Eloise Payne Luquer Medal is awarded for special achievement in the field of botany that may include medical research, the fine arts, or education. The medal was designed in 1949 by sculptor Chester Beach and presented and endowed by the Bedford Garden Club, Zone III, in memory of their distinguished member, Eloise Payne Luquer. Previous recipients include John Nash Ott (1963), Dr. E. Lucy Braun (1966), The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (2007), William Alan McNamara (2009).

In 1906 industrialist Pierre Samuel du Pont purchased a small farm to save a collection of historic trees. Today Longwood Gardens encompasses 1,077 acres featuring 20 indoor gardens, 20 outdoor gardens, meadows, and woodlands showcasing more than 11,000 types of plants.

The seasonal displays elevate the art of horticulture, spotlighting unusual but also ordinary plants, all grown to extraordinary effect. Horticulture endeavors extend beyond the boundaries of the gardens to include a thriving research and production program.

Longwood has become the most visited public garden in America with more than one million guests annually. In 2014 Longwood unveiled an expanded Meadow Garden, 86 acres of native wildflower plantings, trails, and the story of the landscape through the seasons. June of 2015 brought “Nightscape: a Sound and Light Experience,” an immersive evening journey through the Gardens using the landscape as the canvas for this artistic installation.

Proposed by: Garden Club of Wilmington, Zone V

National Park Service

Washington, DC

The Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal is awarded to non-members for exemplary service and creative vision in any field related to The Garden Club of America’s special interests. The medal has the GCA logo lamp on one side and the citation on the other. It was endowed by the Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Charitable Foundation in 2003. Previous recipients are Lady Bird Johnson (2006), The Newman Family & Newman’s Own Foundation (2009), Dr. Wes Jackson (2012), John H. Bryan (2014).

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act that mandated the National Park Service (NPS) “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Today NPS manages 84 million acres of land and 400 national parks where it works to save endangered species and protect ecosystems. NPS is responsible for 13 World Heritage Sites in the U.S., 2,461 National Historic Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places. NPS maintains 68 thousand archeological sites and manages the largest system of museums in the world, caring for over 120 million artifacts in the collections of our national parks.

NPS celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2016.

Proposed by: The Portland Garden Club, Zone XII

MaryEllen Menard O'Brien

The Lenox Garden Club, Zone I, Massachusetts

The Katharine Thomas Cary Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of floral design education. The medal was designed by Karl Gruppe in 1955 and endowed by the New Canaan Garden Club, Zone II in memory of their member, Mrs. William H. Cary. Previous recipients include Catherine Beattie (1993), Janet Moon (2002), Kit Barker (2003), Bonny Martin (2012).

MaryEllen Menard O’Brien has extraordinary artistic talent and vision that she enthusiastically shares with others. Her résumé gives an outline of her willingness to teach, share and lead. She is a GCA Floral Design Judge and a flower show schedule reader. She served as Editor of By Design, The Garden Club of America’s floral design magazine. MaryEllen was one of the group that created FA 101 and FA 201, the flower arranging courses that teach the art, the mechanics, and the joy of floral design.

MaryEllen is first and foremost a teacher who thoroughly enjoys sharing resources and networks. She is happy to travel across the country and give a program or judge a show. MaryEllen has encouraged countless members to move beyond their perceived comfort zone and become the best that they can be.

Proposed by: The Lenox Garden Club, Zone I

Diane Ragone

Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

The Medal of Honor is awarded for outstanding service to horticulture. The medal was designed in 1920 by sculptor John Flanagan who also designed the U.S. quarter dollar coin, first issued in 1932. The medal was endowed in 1963 by the Bedford Garden Club, Zone III, in memory of their member, Mrs. Arthur Marvin Anderson. Previous recipients include Michael Dirr (1993), Daniel J. Hinkley (2004), James Folsom (2007), American Chestnut Foundation (2013).

Dr. Diane Ragone is an authority on the conservation of breadfruit and leads a global effort to expand its cultivation and use. Diane has conducted ethnobotanical studies on this Pacific staple crop for 30 years on 50 islands in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. Through her extensive fieldwork, the National Tropical Breadfruit Garden established the world’s largest collection of over 120 varieties of breadfruit. In 2009 NTBG launched a Global Hunger Initiative to distribute nutritious varieties of breadfruit for food security, sustainable agriculture, agroforestry and income generation in the tropics. Breadfruit tree planting projects are underway in 35 countries.

Diane holds a M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Horticulture from the University of Hawaii. She serves as president of the Society of Economic Botany. Diane received the Star of Oceania Award in 2013 and Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015 from the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. 

Proposed by: Hillsborough Garden Club, Zone XII





William D. Rieley

Rieley and Associates, Charlottesville, Virginia

The Historic Preservation Medal is awarded for outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance. The medal was designed in 1973 by Joseph Kiselewski of New York City and presented and endowed by Mrs. John Leddy-Jones, Founders Garden Club of Dallas, Zone IX, and Mrs. Leonard Kirby, Jupiter Island Garden Club, Zone VIII. Previous recipients include Dr. William Seale, Jr. (2004), J. Reid Williamson (2006), Peter J. Hatch (2011), The Garden Conservancy (2012).

William D. Rieley founded Riely and Associates in 1980 with a practice in historic landscape preservation and exceptional landscape design. The firm emphasizes research that contributes to designs honoring the past while accommodating the future.

After scholarly research, Will designed the 179-acre Thomas Jefferson Parkway, the gracious and popular entrance to Monticello which has over half a million visitors a year. Other work includes the Carriage Road System at Acadia National Park, gardens and landscapes at Bruton Parish Church, Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s Kitchen Road and Mulberry Row restoration at Monticello, Gay Mont/Rose Hill and the gardens and serpentine brick walls of the University of Virginia, where Will taught for over 20 years. In 2005 the Garden Club of Virginia named the William D. Rieley Fellowship in honor of his work as landscape architect to the GCV.

Proposed by: Garden Club of Alexandria, Zone VII





Lonnie G. Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

The Margaret Douglas Medal is awarded for notable service to the cause of conservation education. The medal was designed by Art Deco sculptor Rene P. Chambellan in 1952. It was presented and endowed by Mrs. Robert D. Sterling, Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club, Zone I, to honor Mrs. Walter Douglas, an Honorary Member. Previous recipients include Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1990), Bill Kurtis (1997), Katy Moss Warner (2002), Student Conservation Association (2007), Douglas W. Tallamy (2013).

Drs. Lonnie G. Thompson and Ellen-Mosley Thompson lead the Ice Core Paleoclimate Research Group where Ellen is currently the director and Lonnie is senior research scientist. Ellen is a distinguished university professor in The Ohio State University’s Atmospheric Science Program. She received her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Science at Ohio State. Lonnie is a distinguished university professor in Ohio State’s School of Earth Sciences. He received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Geological Sciences from Ohio State.

The Thompsons are members of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union. They have each received the Common Wealth Award for Science and Invention, the Dan David Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Medal. Lonnie has received the National Medal of Science, the country’s highest award given for scientific accomplishment.

Proposed by: The Kanawha Garden Club, Zone VII




Arete S. Warren

Millbrook Garden Club, Zone III, New York

The Achievement Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement and in tribute to creative vision and ability in the interpretation and furtherance of the aims of The Garden Club of America. The achievement may be in science, history, literature, practice of horticulture, in the art of landscape gardening, or in the field of civic planting, where distinction of accomplishment has been of national influence in promoting higher standards of public taste. The medal was designed in 1932 by Paul Manship and presented by Mrs. Henry Osborn Taylor, Middletown Garden Club, Zone II. It was endowed in 1963 by a member of the Garden Club of Somerset Hills, Zone IV. Previous recipients include Nancy Stallworth Thomas (2003), Emma White Seymour (2009), Jan Pratt (2012), Shirley Meneice (2013).

Arete brings formidable energy, intellect and creativity to every project. She is a highly regarded architectural historian, frequently lecturing on gardens. She has served on the New York State Board for Historic Preservation, as trustee chairman of The Preservation League of New York State and as chairman of the GCA’s Library and Garden History & Design Committees. She has authored museum guides, scholarly articles and books.

For The Garden Club of America’s Centennial in 2013, Arete conceived, curated and worked tirelessly to create the magnificent public exhibition of the GCA’s rare books and edited the award winning accompanying book Gardening by the Book: Celebrating 100 Years of The Garden Club of America. She is currently writing a book about architect Guy Lowell, which she researched last year as a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome.

Proposed by: Millbrook Garden Club, Zone III