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.