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Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame Will Grow by two Members in November
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Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame Will Grow by two Members in November

September 25, 2003

Contact: Cam Sivesind at (503) 682-5089 or (800) 342-6401.

Two new members will be inducted into the Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Ore., with a dinner and induction ceremony.

Both longtime nurserymen and past OAN presidents, Verl Holden of Holden Wholesale Growers and Jack Long of J & L Nurseries will not have to travel far for their inductions. Both reside in Silverton and are still involved in their respective nurseries.

Verl Holden

Verl Holden began his nursery career in high school at H.L Pearcy Nursery, and right away he decided this would be his life work. He put himself through Oregon State University, working as many as three part-time jobs. His eagerness to learn led to some heavy class loads, but it enabled him to earn four minor degrees.

Verl Holden

He fulfilled his military obligation in the Air Force as a first and second lieutenant in Japan and Korea, studying the gardens and horticulture of the region at every opportunity. He returned home and to his job at the nursery. Mr. Pearcy, the nursery owner, died the following year, and Holden became the nursery's manager.

Holden and Alice Knox, his college sweetheart whom he married upon his return from his tour of duty, began saving and looking for land to begin their own nursery. At night, Holden grafted trees that were planted at Alice's parents' farm. They established Sunnyslope Nursery in 1964, and Holden continued at Pearcy's for another year.

Holden taught horticulture at the Oregon State Correctional Institution to help make ends meet while he waited eight years for his main crop, grafted blue spruce, to mature for market. He attended Western Oregon State College to obtain his teaching certificate, all the while building his own greenhouses, buying and repairing secondhand tractors and running the nursery.

Relatives were recruited for cutting-and-sticking parties, and the teenage children of friends had plenty of work to do. The business would eventually become Holden Wholesale Growers, with Alice running the accounting and business end. The couple had a daughter, Kristi, and adopted a son, Paul. Alice died unexpectedly in 1976, and he married Florence Hardesty three years later.

Holden was OAN president in 1977 and served a total of 22 years on the association's board. He helped with each of the four OAN office moves, including the most recent move to Wilsonville in 2002. He has been active in many other horticultural organizations, including serving as board member and president of the International Plant Propagators' Society, treasurer of the American Conifer Society, member of the American Bamboo Society and member of the Marion County Extension Service Board.

He has turned his passion to the Oregon Garden the past five years and is a member of the garden foundation's board. He became an Oregon Certified Nursery Professional in 1968 and has earned lifetime status. He still attends OAN chapter meetings.

Jack Long

Jack Long is a native Oregonian, born in Salem, and is a graduate of Oregon State University. The call of the nursery industry beckoned him early in 1969, when he and his wife, Lurlyn, began growing rhododendrons. When the nursery grew to nearly 12 acres, he quit his day job and devoted himself full-time to the nursery. Today, the family nursery operation encompasses 120 acres of rhodies and specialty trees.

Jack Long

Well-respected in the nursery industry for his political and business awareness, wisdom, tenacity and sense of fairness, Long's awards history is impressive: the Oregon Ag Fest Distinguished Service Award, the Marion and Polk counties (Oregon) President's Award, the Agri-Business Council of Oregon State Cooperator's Award, the Pacific Coast Nurseryman Outstanding Service Award in 1995, the Voice of the Industry Award in 1996 and the OAN Honorary Life Membership Award in 2002.

During his term as OAN president in 1986, he was instrumental in the production of the special Oregon display garden at the Expo '86 World Exposition held in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 1989, after many years of involvement with state and regional associations, he brought his talents to the American Association of Nurserymen Board of Directors. He was president of the AAN (now the American Nursery & Landscape Association) in 1995-96, and his tenure culminated with bringing the annual AAN convention to Portland, Ore. He has also served as president of the Northwest Horticultural Congress, as director of the Western Region of the International Plant Propagators' Society and as president of the Oregon Garden Board of Directors.

Long and Lurlyn have two sons, Mike and Scott.

The awards dinner will be held in the J. Frank Schmidt Jr. Pavilion at the Oregon Garden. Plaques for Holden and Long will be hung on the wall in the Oregon Nurserymen's Hall of Fame room inside the pavilion. There are currently 35 members of the Hall of Fame.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,600 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is the state's largest agricultural commodity, with 2002 sales of $727 million.

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