Spotlight on Maralee Beck

Each month we will spotlight a volunteer, staff member, donor or sponsor of Virginia Robinson Gardens (VRG)—those that have made an impact on the organization. We want to let you, the reader, know a little bit about these wonderful people and corporations that give so much to the Virginia Robinson Gardens and community, and what they do that is so impactful.

This month, we spotlight Maralee Beck, a dedicated Friend of Robinson Gardens and Board Member. We asked her these three questions:

1. How did you first learn about VRG and what inspired you to become a Friend? 

Accompanying long-time Patron Suzanne Kayne to an early Garden Tour, I was blown away – thought there wasn’t a better outing around: fabulous private gardens, wonderful luncheon on the Great Lawn, in my own backyard! They were about to start a Children’s Program, taking third-graders on tours, and Suzanne and I had Jenni and Zachary together in second grade, and I thought….I could do this once a month. So I trained as a Children’s Docent with partner Judy Beckman – still a mentor and friend – under our first Superintendent John Copeland. That training gave me the education in plants, gardens, restoration, and Beverly Hills history that has been such an important part of my life.

2. What’s your role – How do you contribute to VRG?

Many ways, but I was beyond humbled to receive the Spirit of Beverly Hills Award, with Camellia Award honoree Jamie Wolf, my Co-Editor on our book — I was project manager — Beverly Hills’ First Estate: The House and Gardens of Virginia & Harry Robinson. Serving on the Board of Governors of the County’s Arboreta & Botanical Gardens Commission helped us win our 9-year campaign to open the Gardens to the public on Saturdays and holidays, when working people, students, and families can enjoy our beautiful haven. We have widened the back driveway to allow two-way passing – another one of my dreams fulfilled! And I was able to steer the VRG to Local Landmark Number Two under our Inaugural BH Cultural Heritage Commission.

3. Can you share a favorite VRG memory with us?

So many, but there was the Children’s Holiday Party – it’s now our Science Fair – where one of the hired dancers had actually been one of the children feted at the party ten years earlier. He was able to share his current success and his indelible memory of being hosted by us with our current young guests.

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