In Memory – Thomas C (Tom) Greene, Jr

Tom brought his passion for history and landscape to RIWPS when he joined in 1991. Eager to volunteer, in 1992 he became a RIWPS board member where he served for three years.  Tom generously opened his family farm, the birthplace property of  Nathanael Greene in Warwick for RIWPS walks and as a source of plants for our Seed Starters East. Some of our members continue to be owners of umbrella trees (Magnolia tripetala) from seeds of this tree growing on his property. While the species is native further south, it grows well in Southern New England and is noted for its large leaves. Tom thought that his tree probably traced back to one on the private Goddard Park property, notable for its tree collection. Garden in the Woods, headquarters of the Native Plant Trust, is also very proud of a large specimen of Magnolia tripetala.

In his younger days, Tom planted a wide variety of species on his property, growing many from seed. In particular he grew and loved witch hazel long before it became popular. In his later years, Tom enjoyed watching the evolution of the landscape, what grew and thrived from the existing garden plants and wild growth. These plants included a number of cardinal flowers from RIWPS that were placed around the front well. Tom was a wonderful story teller, and as apt at engaging others with the history of different plants as he was with the history of his family.



In Memory – Cheryl Cadwell

Cheryl was a very active member of RIWPS before moving out of state.  In 2008-2009 she became the  president of RIWPS after serving as a vice president the year before. She was known for her passion for all things gardening and in particular for her advocacy of the use of native plants. She generously shared her energy, determination and extensive knowledge of plants and cultivation. In addition to writing some of RIWPS Cultivation Notes, she contributed articles about gardening to a variety of local newspapers. She was active in a number of projects and walks. Always reading, traveling, full of ideas and new gardening undertakings, she was as one of our members said fondly “dedicated top to bottom” to being a good a steward of the landscape.


In Memory – Sidney “Sid” Morgan

RIWPS member, Sid Morgan was a faithful member of Seed Starters West for a number of years. Before we transitioned to machine printed labels they were handwritten and included latin and common name, sun or shade, bloom color, and season of bloom–a lot to fit on those small labels–and the RIWPS information printed on the back. Sid cheerfully wrote hundreds of these labels. She is fondly remembered by those who worked with her for her thoughtfulness, dry humor and the energy she brought to the group.

Obituary Notice

In Memory -Veronica A. “Ronni” Sozek

With saddness we are sharing with you the news of the death of Ronni Sozek.  Ronni was a member of RIWPS for almost 30 years.

In Memory: Irene Beauregard

Irene was a member of RIWPS for more than thirty years starting in 1990.  For many of these years she both actively shared her extraordinary knowledge of plants and her professional landscape talents to foster the mission of RIWPS and forged a shared sense of community among volunteers and members alike.

Irene readily assumed the role of plant expert, educating volunteers and responding to the requests of members for advice on how and what to plant. She offered programs on gardening with natives, especially on planting for seasonal interest and with a focus on design.  In 1996 she served as one of representatives of RIWPS at a native plant conference cosponsored by RIWPS and fourteen other organizations.

Committed to building the organization, Irene served on the Membership Committee and the Harvest Dinner Committee. She also helped with and made donations to the Silent Auction Fundraisers.

For almost a decade Irene was a key member the Flower Show Committee and the wider team that created award winning educational native plant exhibits at the February Rhode Island Spring and Garden Show in Providence. In 1994, the first year of the exhibit, she served as co-chair. The exhibit, Bridge to Discovery: A Woodland Trail at the Nettie Jones Nature Preserve recreated a miniaturized snapshot of this location at the URI W. Alton Jones Campus, complete with a small replica of a bridge constructed from pieces of discarded wood from a bridge that was being replaced at the preserve. Visitors to the show welcomed RIWPS’ quiet woodland as a change from the formal garden exhibits and it received the Exhibitors’ Choice Award as the best of the twenty-seven demonstration gardens. Irene enjoyed the challenge of creating scenarios, sometimes with over 1,000 native plants representing over 100 native species, in mid winter. She took delight in returning many of these plants to the landscape where she nurtured them to flourish once again.

Above all, Irene is remembered by those who knew her at RIWPS for her, graciousness, kindness and generosity.


In Memory: Sandra Thompson

For more than 15 years, Sandra was a tireless, meticulous volunteer, who wanted things done right. In 2013 she was honored with a Lifetime Service Award.

Sandra’s first joined the Garden Tour Committee, where she assumed a leadership role in 2008 and was active in the Flower Show Committee. Both benefited from her organizational and recruiting abilities. Her long-term focus however was cultivating plants and encouraging their use in home gardens.

Sandra was a long-time faithful participant in Seed Starters East and a member of the Plant Sale Committee.  She learned more about propagation techniques, expanded her repertoire of native plants and worked to expand the plant sales. Under her leadership on the Plant Sale Committee from 2013 through 2016, the June plant sale –initially a modest event that offered both native plants and regular garden plants — became the Best Native Plant Sale in Rhode Island, offering over 3,200 natives. Thanks to Sandra’s vision and keen business sense, our plants sales became our sole fundraising effort. In addition to responding to the increasing demand for native plants, and educating the public on their ecological and aesthetic value, we learned that our sales could be organized to produce needed income.

There was no doubt, that once Sandra had set the course, the end result would be achieved. Volunteers gravitated to help.  And they all came to know her husband Paul, who supported every aspect of her work.  Sandra’s efforts to recruit RIWPS members and friends willing to donate flourishing native plants from their gardens to the sale were especially noteworthy. A colleague in Seed Starters, appreciating her passion to expand the stock of native plants, accompanied Sandra, even in the rain and cold of early spring, digging and collecting these donations. The Thompson’s home was legendary in East Greenwich as every year, all those plants, now repotted, lined their front walk and long driveway until delivered to East Farm for the sale in early June. When the Thompsons relocated to a smaller home a few years ago, their new location could not accommodate this repotting process and temporary care of so many plants. Sandra arranged for the continuation of this operation at another location. Still on her mission to offer as many plants as possible, her new home had sufficient space for a few stock beds dedicated for plants destined for the sale. She and Paul also established an additional stock bed at the Beechwood Garden, a joint RIWPS and URI Master Gardener Program project.

During all her years of her service including 2010 to 2013 on Board of Trustees, one of which was as interim Vice President, or most recently in 2019 and 2020 when she headed the nominating committee for the Board, Sandra led by example. She respected those she worked with and valued their contributions.  While her accomplishments were many, we will especially miss Sandra as a friend and colleague.


In Memory, Robert Fain and Michael Lapisky

We are saddened by the passing of two RIWPS members.

Robert Fain first joined RIWPS in 2008. In addition to his interest in Rhode Island Plants he worked professionally and personally on social justice issues.  He died last July.  See obituary

Michael Lapisky,  an 11 year member, was known for his willingness to share his knowledge and experience on all things gardening.  Michael died in January of this year.  See obituary


In Memory: Mabel “Sindy” Hempstead

In early December, at the grand age of 95, RIWPS Life member and former Co-President, Mabel “Sindy” Hempstead passed on.  Sindy was a RIWPS member since 1994 and immediately recruited to serve on the Board, first as Secretary from 1994-1996, then as Co-President with URI Plant Science Prof. Richard Hull, from 1996-1997. Recruited once again in 2003, Sindy served as a Trustee-at-Large from 2003-2008. She was active for many years on the WildfloraRI publication, Walks & Workshops/Program committee and on Botanical Inventory committee. Sindy’s passion was wetland plants, particularly, the water lilies. To capture her spirit take note of the obituary her daughter and fellow RIWPS member, Joyce Hempstead provided.

Many of you may not know Sindy left RIWPS another legacy – the many plant related articles that appeared in our WildfloraRI publication. Links provided. Explore and thank Sindy!

WilfloraRI articles:
Aquatic Adaptation: You can’t turn back the clock (Fall 2010)
Pond Scum (Winter 2011)
The Bladderworts (Winter 2013)
Lousewort: Pirates of the Orobanchaceae (Winter 2015)

Cultivation Notes:
Lysimachia terrestris – Swamp Candles (2008)
Cephalanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush (2010)
Asclepias incarnata – Swamp-milkweed (2011)

On the Trail:
Wickford Harbor Islands (2013)

In 2010 Sindy received our Lifetime Service Award. A life well lived and appreciated.

In Memory: Dick (Richard) Donnelly

Dick describing the characteristics of a plant at RIWPS plant sale

With sadness we are sharing the news of the death of Dick Donnelly a RIWPS’ member for 28 years and a wonderful volunteer. Dick was passionate about native plants and generously shared his talents for teaching about them, both informally and in a wide variety of public programs and events. His contributions to the many years of RIWPS’ annual award winning native plant exhibit at the Rhode Island Spring Flower Show and Garden Show in Providence are much remembered. He worked to source these exhibits, securing plants including trees and stones for creating walls, as well as stuffed animals appropriate to the exhibit’s setting. His attention to accurate habitat details was extraordinary.  He also served as a docent using his love of storytelling to create narratives not only to highlight the function and beauty of the wild plants themselves but also the magic and wonder of experiencing the scene in the exhibit. Volunteers recount the year he helped stage a display with an abandoned foundation of a house in the woods and then as docent enthralled children and adults, suggesting that this was the house he had grown up in along with describing how he had played among these woodland plants and creatures and used the products of the plants for many good purposes. Dick also served on the Board of Trustees and in 2008 received a Lifetime Service Award.  We are thankful to have benefitted from his passion, creativity and joy.

Obituary Notice

In Memory: Jeffrey Marino

In Memory….
With saddness we are sharing with you the news of the death of Jeffrey Marino.  Jeff along with his wife Patricia have been sponsors and family members of RIWPS for many years.