Remembering Stephen A. Spongberg, PHA’s First Director

Posted April 15th, 2021

With great sadness, the staff, Board, and former Board members of the Arboretum share the news of the passing of PHA Director Emeritus Stephen A. Spongberg on March 18th, 2021. ‚ÄúSteve set the foundation for the quality growth and high standards of PHA that we continue today. He was a collections advocate who believed that beyond just being a beautiful place to visit, the Arboretum should strive to assemble a collection of well-curated woody plants with scientific value,” says Tim Boland, Executive Director.

“Steve was a plantsman to the bone and made plants his passion and life’s devotion. We owe so much of our institutional heritage and good standing to his energy and intellect,” adds Tim. Steve was appointed the first Director of the Arboretum in 1998 and served as such until 2004. Prior to taking on this critical role, Steve was the horticultural taxonomist at the Arnold Arboretum.

The Arboretum will publish a formal tribute in the upcoming Spring issue of our newsletter, Meristems. “It has been a time of reflection and gratitude for me,” says Tim. “Steve was a mentor, a teacher, and someone who impacted our lives and this landscape in profound and enduring ways.” When you walk the grounds this year and marvel at the Seven-Son-Flower (Heptacodium miconioides) or look at the fantastic flowers of Leatherwood (Dirca palustris), you come to understand why people like Steve Spongberg make our world a more beautiful and diverse place. We plan to continue his legacy.

CLICK HERE to read a tribute to Steve by the Arnold Arboretum.

To view articles by and about Steve from our newsletter archives, CLICK HERE.

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