FOUNDERS AWARD 2011: BILL KURTZ
2016 Dick & Helaine
Bill was born August 23, 1928. He was born at home because the Palo Alto hospital rose up in flames the day before he was due to arrive. Was this a portent, the arrival of a prodigy, or just a coincidence?
His parents owned a nursery, which they named Home Garden Nursery. It was on the corner of Tennyson and Alma in Palo Alto. Their home was on the property so Bill was literally born into the horticultural world. He attended Addison Grammar School, Jordon Junior High and Palo Alto High School. He graduated from Palo Alto High in 1947. Bill developed an early love of falconry, he got into bird banding and spent many years photographing birdlife. Natural Science was always one of his passions. Bill was a charter member of the Palo Alto Junior Museum. He was a member of their Board for 20 years.
Bill worked for his Dad on a farm they purchased in the 30s, they called it Verdant Valley. The farm was located where El Monte Avenue and Highway 280 intersect today. Eminent Domain forced his parents out in 1961. A portion of Foothill College is a part of that land today and you can still see one of their old barns on that property. Bill was drafted into the Army in 1950, spent his time as a surgical technician and never got to Korea.
When he returned home he entered San Jose State as a science major, emphasis on entomology and plant sciences for which he earned his degree. He met his wife at West Coast Nature School, which was a week long camping program that emphasized science. They happened to be the only two who knew how to cook camp style in their group. He and Joan were married in 1955. They have three sons and have lived in Santa Clara for most of that time. For a while Bill and a partner had a horticultural supply company called O& K Supply. After closing that he worked for George Ball Inc. As you can see, always something to do with plants.
Bill has been a long time member of the San Jose Cactus and Succulent group, the Peninsula Succulent Society and also a San Francisco group. He has been president of a couple of these groups and has chaired the show and sale of the CSSSJ. Along the way he met Ed Carman and frequently visited Ed’ s nursery. It was Ed who got Bill interested in WHS. For many years Bill led the plant discussions at the WHS meetings. His background and knowledge providing the right expertise for this assignment. He served a bit longer than the usual two three year terms on the WHS Board from 2002 to 2009. He was so useful the Board could not let him go !
Bill thanks WHS and gives a passionate
speech urging members to volunteer
for the Board
Richard Tiede presents the award