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Kalamazoo College

Emma Pitcher Memories

Emma Pitcher Memories

(Emma Pitcher, an avid gardener and environmentalist, was a friend of Lillian's for many years. Emma still lives in Friendship Village where she oversees the Village Woods and takes particular pride in their profusion of spring wildflowers, many of which she planted herself. She composed these memories of Lillian in 2005.)

Lillian had more energy than almost any other resident I've known at Friendship Village. From the moment she set foot in our door she started things humming, planting a pin oak from her childhood home on West Main right in front of her apartment window so she could watch it grow.

Lillian took meticulous care of the flower garden she established the full length of Building 4, giving pleasure to occupants of all seven apartments along the way, as well as to passersby. Spring, summer and fall the plants flowered and the weeds disappeared. Her roses and azaleas are still extant. Crocuses, Grecian anemones, columbines, lilies, gladiolus, species tulips, Japanese anemones, etc. all appeared in turn. Geraniums were her specialty. She knew where to find the very best ones. Her friends frequently received thoughtful samples of her floral expertise.

Lillian also ran a plot or two in the residents' vegetable garden all those years. Clad in a cotton 'house dress' as we used to call them, she was a familiar sight with a spading fork in one hand and a bag of new plants or produce in the other, striding briskly to and from the garden. Jeans or pants were unknown to her.

As the Village Woods took shape she was a strong supporter from the word "go". When local nurserymen couldn't supply her with the American Beech tree she wanted she scoured Allegan County until she found one that could. That tree is a beauty today. Lillian's last gift to the Woods was a very large serviceberry shrub given in memory of the Kalamazoo College professors who taught her botany in the 1920's.

Lillian was born with a misshapen spine and all her clothing had to be dressmaker made but you never heard a complaint. She always looked neat and attractive and was unfailingly cheerful. Her one-bedroom apartment was charmingly furnished with lovely old chairs, tables and decorative items from her home. Most notable was the plate rail around the top edges of the walls filled with Danish dark blue Christmas plates, one for every year. For her annual hall Christmas party the room was lined with chairs. Space was made as needed for wheelchairs. Good drinks and homemade goodies - always salted nuts - flowed freely. We even used the Christmas plates. A sturdy, well-filled bird feeder was featured outside her window.

Lillian also liked to entertain her friends in restaurants, especially on their birthdays. I was part of her September birthday group for many years. She'd scurry around and figure out a date convenient for most and then make arrangements for two or three carloads of ladies to go to Plainwell or Three Rivers or wherever she'd found a new eating place. She'd be in the first car leading the way to this lovely party.

In summary I would say that Lillian was gracious, generous, very caring of the natural world, knowledgeable about plants and how to grow them and a wonderful neighbor and citizen. She must have been active in her church too and in our Alberta Brown Library here but I knew her best in the interests we shared.