by MICHAEL DASHIELL
To Thelma Porter, friends and strangers alike were “Dear heart.”
To those near to the late Master Gardener, she was dearly beloved.
Friends and acquaintances gathered on Friday, Sept. 16, at one of Porter’s favorite places in the world — the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden off Woodcock Road — to share memories, music and embraces.
Porter died in January and her fellow Master Gardeners planned an event closer to spring or summer, when flowers Porter helped to care for would be in bloom.
After some scheduling conflicts, her friends gathered just before the onset of autumn to remember the longtime green thumb.
To many of the local gardening scene, Porter is remembered for starting, along with Laurel Ann Norman, the “Shade Garden” from scratch in 1996 and maintaining it each Thursday.
She joined the Clallam County gardeners group in 1995 and was named Master Gardener of the Year in 1999, then earned the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Golden Trowel award in 2005.
“Thelma was my true, loyal friend,” Diane Thu said. “Her friendship and her love were unconditional. No one can ever take her place.”
What many friends didn’t know about Porter was the breadth of her interests and abilities, particularly her affinity for athletics. In high school she lettered in four sports and refereed, to boot. She was on swimming, diving, volleyball and tennis teams, led and performed in ice skating and ballet groups, and served as a YMCA board member. She also sang in choirs.
An only child, Porter was born July 16, 1926, in Toronto, Ontario, to Cyril and Andrewina Allison. She immigrated to the United States in 1949. She married Arnold Porter a year later. They lived in Cleveland, Ohio, before moving to Wenatchee in 1953.
An accountant by trade, Porter was by all accounting quite good at it, earning multiple awards and working for companies such as Farmer’s New World Life Insurance on Mercer Island.
She also lived in Bellevue, Poulsbo and Port Angeles before settling in Sequim.
Her husband died in 2005. (She and Arnold had their ashes scattered on Hurricane Ridge.)
When Porter passed on in January at the age of 84, she bequeathed money to the demonstration garden.
On Friday, Woodcock Garden manager Bob Cain thanked Porter posthumously for her generosity.
“We will put the money to its best possible use,” he told the crowd at Porter’s service.
After some comments by Thu, Jeanette and Paul Stehr-Green led a singing of “Amazing Grace” and Betty Ashland read Linda Ellis’ poem, “The Dash.”
The group then gathered around an arbor made by Sam Agnew; the arbor stands in the “Shade Garden.”
Betty Ashland christened the arbor with an antique teapot, the fragments of which will be used in a mosaic at the garden.
Those who want to contribute may donate to The Thelma Porter Memorial Fund account (Send checks to: Master Gardener Foundation of Clallam County, PO Box 1596, Sequim WA 98382).
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.