When Marie Demler answered an ad in the local paper seeking volunteers at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, she was looking for a place to spend a few pleasant hours during the week. Little did she know that her call to then-Volunteer Coordinator Dr. Marian Grimes would lead her to more than a half century of involvement with the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.
Marie’s love of gardening and the outdoors dates back to her childhood. “I was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania, so it was in my blood,” she says. In Minnesota, she learned to love the snow trillium, skunk cabbage and Jack-in-the-pulpit that heralded the arrival of spring, and the showy lady-slippers that brought “oohs” and “aahs” from garden visitors and staff members alike. She remembers talking with visitors from all over the U.S. and other countries: “They would tell us how happy they were to find a place like this so close to the city.”
After a few years, Marie took over the volunteer coordinator duties, along with Natalie Adler. She recalls that each April, the volunteers readied the shelter for the season with a thorough cleaning, “including washing the windows!” She and Natalie also began a tradition of inviting volunteers’ spouses to join the group for hors d’oeuvres and welcome them to tour the Garden. “That turned out to be a real good idea, so we did that for quite a few years,” she says.
Over the years, Marie’s involvement with the Garden spread well beyond its gates. She invited Betty Bridgman—a poet and writer who also served as editor of the Fringed Gentian™ — to speak to an art class at her church. Garden Curator Ken Avery gave a special presentation at the Garden to Marie and Max’s friends, many of them from Pennsylvania, when the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. And she served for a number of years on the Friends board.
Though she no longer navigates the sloped entry to the Wildflower Garden, Marie stays in touch with Garden activities through the Fringed Gentian™, even taking time while vacationing in Florida to write a note of thanks for the contents of the Winter 2010 issue. Marie and her late husband Max raised three daughters; she now lives with one of them. and the others live nearby. At 96, Marie stays physically active, walking or biking on her three-wheeler when the weather’s nice. Her warmth, vitality and enthusiasm for life remain as strong as ever.
“I tell people, ‘You can find me down on the swing,’ Marie says with satisfaction. All my life I had a swing in our yard. Now that we’re in the townhouse, we don’t have one, but there’s a park close by, so I take my scooter to the park and sit in the swing and enjoy nature. It’s wonderful.”
We thank this dedicated, enthusiastic and gracious Friend for helping make the Garden a wonderful, welcoming and “lovesome” place for all.
Note 1: Article by Donna Ahrens.
Note 2: This article was published in the Friends newsletter the Fringed Gentian™ Summer 2010, Vol. 58 #3
In 2002, for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Marie and others recorded their reflections on their Garden experiences. Read Her's Here Marie Demler passed away on May 4, 2011, age 96 years.