Article appeared in the Norman Transcript Wednesday May 11, 1966 page 11 (used with permission)
by Jo H. Hoskinson
C. E. Garee, nationally known horticulturist from Noble, tonight will be awarded the Presidential Citation given by the president of the National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc., for "his work in hybridizing and propagating many species of plants in Oklahoma."
Garee will receive the citation at the awards banquet at the council's national convention in New Orleans. Because of his advanced age, Garee will not attend the banquet. His daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Bullard, who has been associated with her father in the Noble Nursery the last 20 years, is in New Orleans to accept the award, Mrs. Paul G. Updegraff, member of the national board of the council, said before going to the convention.
Mrs. Fred Mauntel, Washington, Mo., national council president, will present the award, and also a Horticultural Foundation Award to Minnie Colquitt of Texas for the bearded iris named in her honor by Hans Sass of Omaha.
Garee, who was born Sept. 23, 1873, near Eureka, Greenwood County, Kan., was honored by the Norman Lions Club on April 18, 1961, in a special "This is Your Life" program. It outlined Garee's many contributions to Oklahoma horticulture, civic and cultural life, as well as his devotion to the Lions Club.
Garee attended grade school and high school in Center County, Mo. At 13 he passed an examination for prospective teacher's certificate. After attending Eldorado Normal and Business College at Eldorado Springs, Mo., and State Teachers College in Warrensburg, Mo., he taught in Cedar county and nearby counties until 1894. He was considered "sharp" in mathematics.
Bridge building in Kansas and northern Oklahoma occupied him from 1894 to 1896. He came to Noble in 1895 to build a suspension bridge across the South Canadian River. His parents and sister then moved with him to Noble bringing household furnishings in covered wagons. Garee returned to Missouri and married Eva Dunaway in 1897. She died several years ago.
After a short career as a bridge builder, in 1899 he began his nursery in Noble by planting peach seed, making grape cuttings and apple grafts. In the early years, until about 1920, the nursery stock consisted chiefly of peach trees, apple trees, berry and grape vines and other fruit stock in carload lots.
The flowering shrubs and few ornamentals then were chiefly given to purchasers of big lots of fruit stock. Now the picture is exactly reversed, he said recently.
Always a first and foremost propagator and grower, Garee has developed or introduced to the trade many new varieties or little used native plants among them the Gareeii Arizona Cypress, Gareeii Spreading Juniper, Decidious Holly, Red Yucca, Caddo Maple, Western Live Oak, Hardy Deodora, Pinchot Juniper, Ashei Juniper, Greenwood Cypress, Noble Apricot, Compacta scopulorum and budded chestnuts.
His experimentation with collecting seed and native plants gave him further excuse for frequent fishing trips to the various parts of the state. Some of his most valuable plants have resulted from such trips. He has never patented any of his new plants, but has made a habit of sharing his "finds" of plants and methods of propagation with all his fellow nurserymen. In his 75th year, Garee made two trips each week for several months to teach a class of GI's in Oklahoma City who were in the "on the job training" program.
As member of the Oklahoma Nurserymen's Association since about 1900, Garee has served as president several different terms. He has been president of the South Western Nurserymen's Association and district director of the American Association of Nurserymen for six years.
During the years when he was starting the nursery and getting it developed into a "going" business, he engaged in stock raising and farming. He was at one time one of the largest growers of registered Duroc Jersey hogs in Oklahoma. Because of his interest in these hogs, he was instrumental in establishing the State Fair of Oklahoma, being one of the original stockholders of the fair association. He exhibited the Grand Champion Boar the first year of the fair.
In later years he was one of the first promoters of Future Farmers of America which was organized in the Noble High School very early in the Vocational Agriculture programs of the state.
He also was for many years a member of the Cleveland County Fair Board, a member of the Council of Defense, the Victory Bond Sale Committee and the Red Cross Board for Cleveland County during World War I.
"One good thing that came out of the World War I," Garee once said, "was the fact that I could have cornbread every day, because wheat flour, being scarse, was rationed."
During World War II, the town of Noble had a series of 35 or 40 community parties honoring the servicemen of the area who had returned from combat. Garee was chairman for this project for several years.
Religious activities were another interest in the horticulturist. When the Methodist church in Noble was rebuilt in 1930, money was scarse. He organized a crew of men who donated their labor and put the roof on the church in one day.
Not only has Garee been the recipient of the Garden Council's award and the Lions Club honors, he received the 1950 Oklahoma State Nurserymen's first award to the outstanding nurseryman of the state in 1950. This was a silver bowl. He also was chosen as honorary member of the Oklahoma Horticulture Club at Oklahoma State University.
Garee has contributed time and support to many garden club programs in Norman, and as long ago as 1929 he purchased an advertisement in the organization program meeting the State Convention of Oklahoma Garden Clubs which was held in Norman in McFarlin Methodist Church.
In the Lions Club recognition of Garee, tribute was paid to him as horticulturist and distinguished member by Robert H. Rucker, University Landscape architect.
Dr. George L. Cross, president of the University, in presenting Garee to the group said, "I have known this splendid man for 30 years. "He is one of the kindest, most able, most literate and most patient of men."
Rucker in his talk told Garee: "You have made a vast contribution to the State of Oklahoma and the Southwest in turning our urban and rural areas into tree studded verdant expanses of beauty by showing the way in the use of indigenous plant materials.
"It is evident that professional and amateur horticulturists will always reap the benefits of your work"
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