Barbara Waddell, whose avocation was plants, was a medical technologist at the former Ferguson Hospital. At her home in Howard City, Michigan, she and her companion, Arlene Treanor, were avid gardeners who became especially interested in using Michigan native plants in gardening. In 1988 Barbara helped establish the White Pine Chapter of the Michigan Botanical Club, the native plant society of Michigan. The chapter’s first meeting was a field trip along the Grand Rapids at Grand Valley State University. It was through the Michigan Botanical Club that Ms. Waddell became acquainted with Dr. John Shontz, Professor of Biology at Grand Valley State University.
Since then the chapter has had monthly meetings from September through April at Grand Valley State University. In the warmer months field trips take the members to a variety of locations in Michigan. Barbara had a deep interest in conservation, especially of native plants, which she shared with the Botanical Club members. By providing information about seed sources and activities of groups that fostered native plants, she encouraged the Botanical Club members to plan and save native plants and to work at controlling invasive species.
Barbara also worked with 4-H youth teaching them about native plants and encouraging them to get involved in preserving native plants and using them in landscaping. These activities were a passion for her. Upon their retirement, Barbara and Arlene spent their summers in Howard City and winters in Florida. In Florida, Barbara worked long hours with the Florida Native Plant Society on programs to preserve native species, to eradicate undesirable invasive plants, and to educate young people about native plants. Eventually Barbara and Arlene became permanent residents of Florida. Upon her death, Barbara provided for a trust whose income went to Arlene as long as she lived.
Upon Arlene’s death, Barbara directed that a bequest be given to Grand Valley State University for the study of use of native plants in landscaping. It was because Ms. Waddell’s trust and respect for GVSU professor Dr. John Shontz that she chose to provide a generous gift to Grand Valley State University in her estate plans that would continue her avocation of native plants.
Barbara always said she thought the best way to get people excited about native plants was through education and involvement of young people. Her wish was that her money be used for the purpose of getting young people involved in conservation of native plants, promoting growth of native plants, and promoting use of native plants in landscaping and gardening. To that end The Waddell-Treanor Native Plants Endowment is established.