The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was founded on June 18, 1952. There were six founding directors - Clinton Odell, Russell H. Bennett, Mrs. Carroll Binder, Martha Crone, Donald C. Dayton, and Leonard F. Ramberg. Their bios are at this link.
There are directors that served for a short while during this time frame for which we have no background information. Their names and dates of service are on the full director name list at this link.
The board expanded at the first annual meeting held January 1953 with the addition of Earle Brown and Mrs. Clarence (Ebba) Tolg.
Earle Brown must have been asked by Clinton Odell. He was the retired Sheriff of Hennepin County, formed the Minnesota Highway Patrol and was involved with other civic affairs. He unsuccessfully ran for governor against Floyd Olson and lost. He owned a family farm in what is now Brooklyn Center, which was donated to the University of Minnesota as a instructional institution for children. He passed away in March 1963 serving on the board until the end.
For Mrs. Clarence Tolg the connection was wildflowers. She was known to Martha Crone for many years prior to this as she appears in Martha's records twice in 1942, stopping in the Garden for a visit on May 23 with Martha noting she had not been in since 1940. Mrs. Tolg brought alone Marion Cross who was also interested in plants and birds. Miss Cross would join the board in 1961. Mrs. Tolg returned On August 7 and the pair drove to Lulu May Aler's for lunch, Martha walking back via Fruen's Mill and Babcock's glen. Miss Aler lived in Bryn Mawr and maintained the bird feeding station at the Garden. (1)
While here first name was "Ebba" she was also known as "Betty."" In 1939 she had helped form the Golden Valley Garden Club, gave gardening talks and maintained a good sized wild flower garden at her home on 206 Meadow Lane North in Golden Valley, just a short distance from the Wildflower Garden. She was on the Minneapolis Campfire Girls Council in 1940s. Her other memberships included the Zontians, Golden Valley League of Women Voters and the Bernard College Alumni Group. Her husband, Clarence, became well known in the 1960s as "Uncle Fogey" on WCCO radio. She was Vice-President of the Friends from 1962 through 1965. Ebba passed away on 2 June 1982 at age 94. Memorials were directed to the Friends.
Carl Wendell Rawson was an artist, one of the Minnesota Impressionists, and also a golfer and sportsman. A more extensive history is at this link.
Walter Lehnert was President of the Friends 1961-1964, chairman of the Minnesota Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, grower of wild flowers and business man. A more extensive history is at this link.
Marion Eleanor Cross is first mentioned in the Friends records on May 23 1942 when she accompanies Ebba Tolg to the Garden to visit with Martha Crone. She was acquainted with fellow board member Russell Bennett as she is known to have stayed with the Bennetts at their Alberta ranch in the 1950s.
Birding and gardening were of great interest to her. She grew flowers vegetables and fruits which were used in sales to benefit Smith College. She liked to write about history, especially about parts of Minneapolis, the houses and who lived in them. Her writing career became noticed with her translation of Father Louis Hennepin's travels in the midwest in the 1600's, the first 20th century translation. She gave tours at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and she traveled. She was on one of her travels in Mexico with her father Norton Cross, a Minneapolis Attorney, when he died.
She lived at 806 Mount Curve Avenue in Minneapolis and died in Edina on November 29, 1997 at age 94.
Whitney H. Eastman was a member of the Friends Board of Directors from January 1961 through May 1969, after which he was an honorary director until May 1975. He joined the board when Dorothy Binder was President and was active through the fund raising and construction of the Martha Crone Shelter. His appearance in the Friends records goes back to the 1930's. An extensive bio is at this link.
Alvin Witt was first elected to the Friends Board of Directors in 1963. He was elected Vice-president in 1966 and held that position until May of 1970. He retired from the board in May of 1973 at which point he was appointed an honorary director in recognition of his services when he was treasurer of the Building Committee that was formed by the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden for the construction of the Martha Crone Shelter in 1968-1970.
His family was well-known in the grocery trade. We have a more extensive bio at this link.
Jessie Ludcke joined the Friends board on March 2, 1964 joining other birding enthusiasts on the board with whom she was acquainted through Audubon and the Minnesota Orinthologist Union, particularly Whitney and Karen Eastman. Her husband George, who died in 1961, and she had been camp co-ordinators for Minnesota for National Audubon societies nature study camp at Hunt Hill near Sarona WI. They had been among the founders of the camp.
Cay Faragher became a director in May 1968 and was elected President at the following board meeting, replacing Ken Avery as President. She was the one to shepherd the Friends through the process of building the Martha Crone Shelter. Catherine served as president until May 1971 at which time she became an honorary and ex-officio director until 1975 at when she rejoined the Board.
Robert Dassett Jr. joined the Friends Board of Directors in 1970 and remained on the board until 1982. He was Vice President in 1970 and Friends President 1971 through 1974.
He is in the Friends records back into the 1930's. A more extensive bio is at this link.
Harry Thorn joined the Friends in 1968 and in that same year he became a member of the Building Committee that was formed by the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden for the construction of the Martha Crone Shelter.
A more detailed bio of him is at this link.
Mr. Tusler joined the Friends Board of Directors in 1969 at the request of Friends President Catherine Faragher, Tusler having already been active with the Friends in the building plan. He was on the board through 1974.
He was a retired principal of the prominent Minneapolis Architectural firm of Magney, Tusler & Setters. A more extensive bio is at this link.
Reference: Minutes of The Board of Directors and other documents in the files of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Text by Gary Bebeau.