Spotlight on Rodney Kemerer

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

This month, we spotlight Rodney Kemerer, an invaluable, wonderful, and dedicated Friend. His myriad contributions, generous heart, and deep love for VRG are reflected in his answers below. An extremely gifted professional writer, Rodney recently completed a new book, Tales From The Garage, which is a graphically illustrated collection of the best of his magazine essays. (Hopefully) available this summer. One chapter in the book is about the Robinsons’ Duesenbergs. Rodney has contributed articles to The Los Angeles Times, The Petersen Automotive Museum, Rolls Royce and Bentley magazines and other publications.

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

Not sure, but I believe it was 2002 when I heard about the Garden Tour and bought a ticket. I went to the other gardens first and then arrived at The Virginia Robinson Gardens. It was a moment that I still remember vividly. There was an unspoken beauty and calmness that announced itself in a whisper of floral scent. From that day to today, VRG has always been a part of my life. I could not wait to join the Friends to find any excuse to participate and visit The Gardens.

2. What is your role – how do you contribute to VRG? 

The fox in the hen house. The Friends traditionally has been primarily women but, breaking with tradition, I joined The Friends to help establish a male appreciation of gardens and to encourage other men to finally admit, they love a good garden.

Over the years participation has been varied. Starting with volunteering during the original Holiday Children’s Christmas Event and supplying movie related toys that Lindsay (my wife) obtained from various studios. These were used in the generously stuffed gift bags. We have supported many Garden Tours and Gala Events with tribute pages as well as writing letters to government agencies whenever The Gardens need some assistance or a change in the rules regarding operations.

Since my wife and I own a home that is also in The National Register of Historic Places, I have enjoyed consulting with Superintendent Emeritus Tim Lindsay regarding restoration projects and sharing resources. It has been very helpful to both of us to consult with each other regarding types and levels of historic restoration.

At the Gala Silent Auction, Linsday and I have offered a brunch and tour for two in our Historic House.  These events have been fun for us while raising additional money for The Gardens. A highlight for us was hosting the Fellows Pre-Christmas Cocktail Party and “Vintage Gift Exchange” one year. I still have and use Tim’s cut glass pickle tray that I scored in the exchange. Most recently I have been writing essays for the VRG Newsletter which has been a great source of sharing life experiences.

Every year during Garden Tour I make sure to bring someone who has never been to The Gardens. A small act that exposes The Gardens to a new audience. It is fun to see people respond the same way I did during my first visit.  You just never want to leave.

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

Difficult as there are so many. But when I really think about it, there is one that stands out. During one of the Christmas Parties for the group home children, I was hosting one of the amusement games set up along the tennis court. I don’t remember the exact nature of the game but whatever it was, it resulted with a child receiving a stuffed toy. The older boys dominated the game and crowded out the smaller children as well as all of the girls. One small girl caught my eye as she was riveted watching the other children play the game. I thought, she doesn’t have a chance with these boys. I stopped the game and instructed the boys to move aside and let this very shy young girl step forward. She needed a lot of encouragement. Finally she made it to the front of the stand and I explained how it worked. You know, of course, it was rigged so that every player won something. She played successfully (no surprise here) and I told her she had her choice of all the stuffed animals behind me. I can still see her face, if joy had a mascot, it would be her. She clutched that toy and, without saying a word, quietly disappeared into the crowd. She will never disappear from my heart.

Thank you Virginia.

4. Please add any additional information you would like to share!

Virginia Robinson Gardens is the source of so much pleasure and joy it is hard to explain. Walking through those gates into a world as we would like it to be is a treasure to be savored and protected at all cost.

I believe it is my privilege to help continue Virginia’s dream.

6 Responses

  1. Joanne Savage
    | Reply

    I was fortunate enough to be one of the guests Rodney has introduced to VRG and I must say it was a wonderful gift to the senses that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you Rodney for your continued work and dedication to maintain this beautiful garden for the enjoyment of us all.

  2. Bob Cohen
    | Reply

    Thank you for honoring Rodney, and through him, his wife, Lindsey. Rodney, as all of us who have had the opportunity of being his friend or working with him on various projects and committees he is involved with in the Benedict Canyon area, know and appreciate the many talents Rodney has. Rodney is clearly one of the most active volunteers for community projects, which for the most part is non-publicized because that’s Rodney mindset and personality. If we were asked to articulate what we consider to be one of Rodney’s many outstanding talents, that would be that once Rodney makes a commitment, it’s forever and when completed, it’s done perfectly.

    Bob and Joan Cohen

  3. Vera Dunn, Ph.D.
    | Reply

    I too was fortunate enough to be one of the guests of Rodney’s tours of VRG. While it left an indelible memory on my heart it apparently went a step further with Rodney as he proceeded to go on to become a very active participant of VRG. I have worked with Rodney on Benedict Canyon Projects and consider him to be a valued colleague and close personal friend. I know thru my experiences with him that once he is passionate about a project or cause he will not rest until he has given it his all to be a success. It is a privilege and pleasure to work with Rodney and any organization that he chooses to invest his time and talent into can only benefit beyond measure.

  4. Pam Falk
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    I, three, was thrilled to be one of Rodney’s guests at the VRG, “Home for the Holidays” tour. It was magical, other-worldly, and now I am a grateful member! It is truly one of the best-kept secrets in LA and far beyond. Thanks, Rod!

  5. Pam Falk
    | Reply

    I, three, was thrilled to be one of Rodney’s guests at the VRG, “Home for the Holidays” tour. It was magical, other-worldly, and now I am a grateful member! Truly it’s one of LA’s best-kept secrets – and far beyond. Thanks, Rod!

  6. Clare Wagner
    | Reply

    Rodney, you are a treasure for the Gardens!

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