The Farewell Party for the Incomparable Superintendent Timothy Lindsay

On May 7, 2022, it was an emotional and bittersweet day for the Friends and LA County members as they celebrated Superintendent Timothy Lindsay’s Farewell Party at the Virginia Robinson Garden. Co-chaired by Jeanne Anderson, Maralee Beck and Joan Selwyn, it was an elegant and beautiful affair befitting our beloved, multi-talented, and extraordinary Tim.

As the attendees sauntered through the Main House, the very talented Diane Jenkins took expert pictures of the festively attired guests in front of Jeanne’s romantic flower arrangement. Enhancing the lovely atmosphere in the Great Hall, pianist Dale Witt played classical and jazz tunes.

Out on the Great Lawn, Maralee thanked and welcomed everyone for coming, including our past Presidents in attendance: Barbara Foley, Barbara Namerow, Ellisa Bregman, Tracy B. Smith, Kathleen Toppino, Debra Shaw, Kerstin Royce, Adrienne Horwitch, Marian Power, Patti Reinstein, and our current President Betty Goldstein.

Maralee noted that we have a brand-new County employee, Jacqueline Rodriguez, who brought her son, Aidan Sanchez, with her to work today. Walking up from Cove Way through the wondrous gardens, he stunned his mother by saying that he had been here before -- “to the best Science Day ever” --with the Children’s Science Fair in 2017, and that he remembered everything in detail from “the forest of Palm Trees like he had never seen before” to the magician and the science quiz. “This was a magical moment for me,” Maralee said as it demonstrated what we can accomplish through our Outreach Programs to make a permanent memory for our valued student guests. Maralee then introduced Joan who founded the Friends in 1982.

Joan said, “During Virginia Robinson’s life, her gardens were pristine and perfectly groomed. She walked the estate twice a day with her majordomo Ivo Hadjiev inspecting every plant and every path meticulously. No one dared to leave a water hose out of place for fear of her displeasure. When Virginia passed away, and the County took over the Gardens, a lot of time had passed and like the princess in the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, Virginia’s gardens had fallen asleep. Plants grew suddenly as seeds were spread by birds and the wind, and large shrubs and trees had sprung up, and they corrupted the original design of the gardens. So how fortunate we were that the County found Tim Lindsay and confirmed him as our Superintendent. Tim’s love and understanding of gardens and architecture has helped to bring the estate to its former glory. This would never have been possible without Tim’s knowledge and hard work…. He worked his magic and today, our gardens bloom more brilliantly and our birds sing their songs more sweetly because of Tim’s sincerity, talent, and dedication.” Visibly moved, Joan then introduced Tim and thanked everyone for coming to celebrate his retirement.

 

Tim spoke about his journey and how he moved to California in 1990 with his wife Marguerite from Florida where he had been a college professor for five years teaching horticulture. He worked as an Assistant Superintendent at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden for seven years before coming to VRG.

As Superintendent of Robinson Gardens for 25 years, Tim has worked with 15 Presidents who, along with their committees and their innovative ideas, increased funding through expanded events and programs at the Gardens. Tim proudly said, “Today, the Friends manage a grant-supported Children’s Science Program that serves over 2,000 elementary school children. These children utilize the Gardens as an outdoor classroom, and we find great satisfaction to know that this program has positively affected the lives of countless youth.”

Tim continued, “We have been good neighbors, good stewards and continue to successfully perpetuate the Robinsons legacy which is to inspire the best in people and to shape the history and beauty they created over their 66-year residency here at 1008 Elden Way. I strongly believe that the Robinsons would be extremely pleased by the caring attention we have given their estate as experienced by the number of visitors now able to enjoy the estate. For these many gains, I have been very grateful. I have been particularly grateful to my family for tolerating my long hours and near obsession with the gardens’ restoration and operation. I am forever grateful to my support staff, including the on-site caretaker -- they together provide necessary attention to detail and finesse to make the gardens grow ever greener and for garden tours and events to run ever smoothly.” As Tim acknowledged the contributions of the Presidents, his family and the staff, and the social media team, he asked each group to stand, to much applause.

Looking to the future, Tim introduced our new Superintendent Diane Sipos saying that we look forward to further advancements, the preservation and interpretations of our collections, and accessibility to the wonders of VRG. She will guide and oversee the committees with important work yet to be done on the Museum Accreditation Program and HALS (Historic American Landscapes Survey) now in progress.

Tim concluded, “In 2014, we successfully expanded daily visitation, daily operation and the numbers and types of events by 33%. My unwavering support of Robinson Gardens continues even though I will be working from a different desk. In my heart, I will always carry all the wonderful memories of our many victories and equally the valuable lessons learned from defeat. My journey would not have been complete without the company of all of you present today and for that I am eternally grateful. The greatest verb after to love is to help. And all of you have helped me become what I am today. Thank you.”

After Tim’s moving speech, reflecting his generosity of heart and soul, Maralee introduced the Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation Alina Bodke who “visits Robinson Gardens quarterly and has been a terrific champion of our gardens.” Alina said, “It is such a deep honor to be here representing the Department of Parks and Recreation. Tim, it has been incredible to hear about your legacy, your passion, your love, and dedication …Your legacy is so apparent and visible. I have heard so many wonderful stories about you, and so it is with deep gratitude that we thank you for your 31.668 years of service.”

Alina presented Tim with a Proclamation Certificate from the Board of Supervisors that commended his exceptional public service to the LA County Arboretum & Botanical Garden and “his outstanding accomplishments in the preservation, restoration, conservation, programming, and management of the historic Virginia Robinson Gardens. His commitment ensured that the gardens remain a premier destination with some of the most historically significant and beautiful landscapes in the County,” added Alina.

Mirroring our thoughts, Alina concluded by expressing that everyone will miss Tim and is sad to see him go -- it is very much a bittersweet moment -- but that we are excited for all the wonderful things that are ahead of him with our best wishes for happiness, health, and success in his retirement.

Allison Terry, the liaison of the Southern California chapter of HALS, along with David Dahlke and Katie Owens, presented a 16 x 20 inch framed, large format photograph of the Palm Terrace Fountain, printed on archival paper, with a plaque thanking Tim for all his help with HALS. Visibly moved and happy, Tim exclaimed that the photograph will go in his new home office!

Past President Debra Shaw then presented Tim with a generous gift of a gorgeous Versace vase that she selected.

Lastly, Patty Elias presented Tim with a sheaf of artfully wrapped papers comprising of a very poetic and stirring ode to Tim, written by Rodney Kemerer, followed by many heartfelt letters from the Friends to Tim. (Voices From the Garden)

An elegant and superb luncheon was served by Sean Murphy and his chef Trevor Zimmerman of Sean Murphy Catering and Events. The attendees enjoyed an herb crusted tri tip, blueberry balsamic salmon with a spicy mango-jicama slaw, a Mediterranean penne pasta, grilled vegetables, and saffron rice. Tantalizing mini flourless chocolate cakes and an apple crumble were also served. The pièce de résistance was Tim’s favorite dessert, a coconut cake beautifully adorned with roses made by Perfectly Sweet Bakery.  Luncheon committee chairs Elaine Stein, Kerstin Royce, and Patti Reinstein oversaw all the details beautifully, and they made appetizing brownies and cakes for the guests to enjoy before the luncheon.

Throughout the day, guests had the opportunity to bid on exciting items at the silent auction. A brainchild of Jeanne, the auction mostly featured one-of-a-kind, unique experiences with many of the Friends generously opening their gardens and homes, some of which are historic properties, for a tour and lunch or dinner. A deluxe harbor cruise from Marina del Rey or Newport Beach with drinks and appetizers was also offered. We are so grateful for their kindness in hosting these special events.

Flower arranging, gardening, yoga, and photography classes by experts were bid on as well. Other exclusive events included a behind-the-scenes tour at the Huntington Library, tours of the South Coast Botanic Garden and the LA County Arboretum with its Director and Lotusland in Montecito, as well as a walking tour of former movie stars’ homes in Beverly Hills. Other auction items featured lovely watercolors by Martin Bruinsma depicting different vistas in Robinson Gardens, and beautiful coral rose earrings donated by Kazanjian.

The group also enjoyed looking at three exhibits in the Pool Pavilion. Archive Chair Patty Elias and archivist Bonnie Taylor-N’Diaye presented fascinating items for the guests to peruse. Vintage photographs, a timeline of the history of the Robinsons with simultaneous world events, an 1891 pen and ink drawing of Harry’s father, J.W. Robinson, and a lock of Virginia’s hair were some of the items displayed. Most touching were heartfelt letters from Harry to Virginia when he was traveling alone, expressing how much he missed her and professing his deep love for her. Also noteworthy was a warm letter from President Reagan in 1982 from the Oval Office acknowledging the formation of the Friends and the successful public/private relationship that saved the first estate of Beverly Hills so that it could be enjoyed by the visiting public.

Thanks to Patty’s dedication to the project and Bonnie’s expertise, the scanned items of the stabilized originals will be digitized in an archive on our website which will be available to the community and to institutions. One of the interested attendees was Edward Call, the great-nephew of Virginia. Read about Nancy Thompson Call, his mother, here.

Also impressive was an exhibit of the very successful Semi-Virtual Children’s Science Program, created by Patti Reinstein, Leslie Kavanaugh, and Kerstin Royce, which has been met with great enthusiasm from grateful teachers as well as students. The third unit exploring “The Life Cycle of a Frog” was on display, as well as the contents of a box filled with healthy snacks, a coloring book by Joan, the book Sam’s Super Salad (written by Tim & Joan and illustrated by Joan), notebooks with science lessons, crayons, coloring pencils, tips for healthy eating, and other fun items to use for learning. More than 4,000 of these kits have been sent to the 3rd and 4th grades of Title 1 schools.

Also on display was the exhibit showing the in-progress measured drawings for the Historic American Landscapes Survey documentation for VRG. Allison explained that the measured drawings are part of the written documentation and large format photography that will be assembled and submitted to the Library of Congress, where it will be available for the public to access for research and information. The landscape documentation will supplement the museum accreditation application and serve as baseline documentation for docents and management of the gardens.

Allison said, "The Friends have generously provided stipends for some portions of the research and have funded the original topographic survey. Tim Lindsay has enthusiastically supported this documentation since its inception in 2017 and has provided valuable insight and information to the team throughout its research and field work."

As a thoughtful gesture, note cards were provided for guests to share their appreciation and their memories with Tim before they left for the day as mementos for him. The attendees all said how fabulous and wonderful the party was, and Elaine said that someone told her, “I feel like this is a party that Virginia would have given.”  Jeanne said, “One of my favorite British landscape designers is Capability Brown, and I think I would call our guy, Capability Tim.”

 

Thanks to our hardworking, great County staff, our terrific co-chairs, our wonderful President Betty, and the generosity of the Friends, it was a fantastic day celebrating our incomparable Tim who is on his way to enjoying a full and happy retirement. He will never be far from Robinson Gardens, and he will be forever in our hearts.

 

Post by Linda Meadows
Friends of Robinson Gardens Member
Editor of the VRG eNewsletter, the Happenings

Photos by Diane Jenkins
Friends of Robinson Gardens Society Member

6 Responses

  1. Joan Selwyn
    | Reply

    Oh my God, Linda, your article is a masterpiece. A beautiful and important history of a memorable. day in the history of the Virginia Robinson Gardens. Than you !

  2. Kerstin Royce
    | Reply

    What a fabulous “walk down” of a great memory day! Thanks Linda👍🥰

  3. carol morava
    | Reply

    A very lovely article delineating Tim’s many contributions to VRG over the course of his 25 years there, As a volunteer at VRG for 20 years, I observed at close range how he reworked plantings and maintained structures with equal aplomb. He will be missed.

  4. Cynthia C Fields
    | Reply

    Tim’s Party was spectacular! Joan, Maralee, Kerstin, Diane and all others put on a very special commemoration of Tim’s huge contribution to the Robinson Gardens! Thank you!!

  5. Clare Wagner
    | Reply

    Fabulous celebration for our fabulous Tim. Many thanks to those who put together such an amazing day honoring our Superintendent extraordinaire Tim!

  6. Stacy Klines
    | Reply

    Beautiful article Linda, and a what an incredible day to celebrate Tim and his steadfast guidance as “more than” our garden superintendent. His contribution to these last 25 years will never be forgotten and he has moved us forward in ways we couldn’t have imagined back in 1997! How lucky we are to have learned from you and grown together.

    Tim, have a wonderful retirement but don’t forget your path back because we all hope to see you often, roaming the paths, checking the house, and keeping an eye on all the things you’ve accomplished. 💜

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