MOUNT DESERT — At the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Land & Garden Preserve in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in August, Don E. Coates was elected Life Member of the board of directors.
Approximately 60 Directors, committee members and staff attended the annual meeting in which officers and directors were elected for the coming year and Bill Thomas, executive director of Chanticleer Gardens, gave a presentation on the private estate in Wayne, Pa., which became a public garden 21 years ago. Thomas’ pictures and stories were beautiful, entertaining and instructional with respect to the preserve’s mission to preserve three historic gardens and surrounding lands on Mount Desert Island.
After the Chanticleer presentation, a very special tribute was made to Don E. Coates. The former director of the preserve was elected Life Member of the board of directors, an honor bestowed on only two others in the history of the preserve.
The text of the tribute says that “Don Coates became a Director of the Land & Garden Preserve in 1988, serving in various capacities including his current role as a member of the Asticou Azalea Garden Committee, the Audit Committee and the Education Committee. His ability to place current projects and challenges of the Preserve within an historic context while telling his stories with both humor and candor has repeatedly enlightened and enhanced our collective understanding of the organization. An educator by profession, he has become our ‘garden historian.’
“Don’s commitment to the Preserve extends far beyond his 26 years as a director. In 1984, Don was appointed by the Town of Mount Desert to serve as sole trustee of the Asticou Terraces Trust, a position he held for three years. As trustee, he oversaw management of Thuya Garden, Thuya Lodge, Asticou Landing and Terrace Trail, and the Asticou Azalea Garden. It was during his tenure as trustee that the outlooks and pavilions on the Thuya property assumed their iconic red roofs….
“Don’s involvement with the lands of the Preserve extends even further back. Between 1951 and 1963, Don was Charles Savage’s associate working for the Asticou Inn, the Asticou Terrace Trust and the Acadia Corporation. It was during this period that Charles Savage conceived the plan to preserve Beatrix Farrand’s plant collection and to build the Thuya and Asticou Azalea Gardens. Don’s stories of working with Charles Savage, Mike Coombs, Augustus Philips and others who built the gardens are critical to the woven fabric of our history.”
According to the preserve, organizational bylaws allow the board of directors to bestow this honor on individuals who have made a significant and sustained contribution to the mission and corporation. “It is in this spirit and with tremendous gratitude and appreciation for all he has contributed” that the board elected Coates to this honored seat.