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In Memoriam: Gina Miller Bissell, Twenty-First President of The Garden Club of America


June 29, 2020

Gina Bissell, president of The Garden Club of America from 1975-1977, passed away on June 3, 2020, in Greenville, Delaware at the age of 99. We mourn the loss of this generous mentor, consummate horticulturist, avid gardener, world traveler, inspirational leader, and dear friend. Current GCA President Debbie Edwards said, “Gina Bissell lived a life of service to others. Her contributions to the GCA were exceptional, and she was loved by all who knew her.”

A philanthropist and an avid collector of American antiques, Gina was also a true lover of plants and gardens. She won countless horticultural awards over the years and visited many of the world’s great gardens. Her spirit of adventure took her all over the globe.

Gina joined the Garden Club of Wilmington (GCW) in 1950, served as club president in 1958-60, and was made an honorary member in 1982. In 2014, the GCW created a special award honoring Gina and Bunnie duPont, another GCA president from the GCW. The award was designed to encourage dedicated involvement in the work of GCA clubs in Pennsylvania and Delaware or GCA national affairs, and its first recipient was Gina. 

During Gina’s term as GCA president, the nation celebrated its Bi-Centennial in 1976. Nationally, Gina served on the GCA Executive Committee, as chairman of the Bulletin, Nominating, and Interchange Fellowship Committees, and as Zone V Director. In 1983, Gina and Jan Pratt, GCA president in 1995-97, were responsible for the GCA postage stamps issued to mark the publication of “Plants That Merit Attention.” Gina continued to serve the GCA for 40 years after stepping down as president.

Locally, a leader as well, Gina served on the boards of The Delaware Center for Horticulture, The Delaware Art Museum, The Delaware Antique Show, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Winterthur Museum, Church Farm School (Paoli, PA), and was a Regent of Gunston Hall Plantation. She was a founding member of The American Museum and Gardens in Bath, England. In recognition of her involvement in these, as well as other organizations, Gina was given the Lifetime Volunteer Award by the Brandywine Chapter of Fundraising Professionals in 2012. 

Gina was a generous mentor to budding gardeners in the GCW and to the GCA presidents who followed her. Until her last years, she loyally attended GCA annual meetings and quarterly business meetings, as well as participating in GCW activities. She was a loving and beloved friend to many and will be greatly missed.



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