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 of 2020, 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.
Sigrid Hewit-transplanting

In Memory: Sigrid Hewitt

With sadness we announce the passing of Sigrid Hewitt, RIWPS member and volunteer, on May 3, 2020. Sigrid brought her strong interest in nature and plants with her when she moved to Rhode Island fifteen years ago. A long time volunteer at Seed Starters West, Sigrid was awarded a Lifetime Service Award in 2018, especially for her contributions to this group.

In Memory: Joan Pilson

With sadness, we announce the passing of RIWPS extraordinary volunteer, Joan Pilson. Joan joined RIWPS shortly after her retirement in 1990 and was soon involved in many aspects of the Society. She was a board member, serving as President from 1993 to 1995 and then as Co-President the following year. Spanning her tenure on the Programs Committee, which included being Chair, and continuing this focus on educational events through her participation in the current Walks & Workshops Committee, Joan created, arranged or oversaw hundreds and hundreds of programs.

Joan was also an original member of Seed Starters. In 1991 when Dorothy Swift suggested having a group dedicated to native plant propagating, Joan arranged the meeting. Within weeks, seeds were germinating. Joan was hooked, becoming a permanent member of Seed Starters and earning a Certificate in Native Plants from Native Plant Trust (formerly New England Wildflower Society). But Joan was also interested in protecting plants in their native habitats and proudly joined RIWPS’s campaign to add Sea Lavender to the list of plants protected by the “Christmas Greens” law, thus prohibiting the collecting or picking of this plant on public lands.

Joan promoted RIWPS’s mission through her work with the Environmental Council of Rhode Island and the Native Plant Trust.  Joan was an overseer of  the NPT and for a number of years served in an Ambassador role for them . One result, a joint RIWPS and NPT Native Plant Certificate Program. Joan received a Rhode Island State Service Award from the Native Plant Trust in 1999.

In recognition of Joan’s contributions in so many different capacities at RIWPS, she was given a Lifetime Service Award in 2011. Leader, organizer, volunteer scout and mentor, docent for native plant exhibits at the Rhode Island Spring and and garden tours, editorial advisor to WildfloraRI, host for Winter book discussions, planning groups and informal gatherings of volunteers at her home along with her husband Michael. Every committee sought out Joan – Special Events, Programs, Walks & Workshops, Seed Starters, Plant Sales, Flower Show, WildfloraRI. Each was made better by her efforts.

Joan gifted RIWPS with her generous and positive spirit, her stamina and spunk. We are very thankful.

Obituary notice.