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Submitted by Phil Bergman


This section was designed to give tribute to and remember various legends and friends in the world of Palm Trees.  Obviously, over time, the list below will expand as we all age.  I have added information I have and photographs when available.

1942 - 2015


Jim Wright


  • POSTED 9 AUGUST, 2015

It saddens me deeply to tell you of the passing of a dear friend of mine and the Palm Society, Jim Wright.   Jim was one of the original members of the PSSC and the IPS.  He started collecting palms and planting out his garden in the Bay Park area of San Diego in the early 1960's.  Although I don't have an exact count, I suspect he had over a hundred species of palm trees growing in his garden.  His garden has been on tour many times for the enjoyment of Palm Society members.   He has written many articles for Society publications and was an excellent grower of rare palm species.  He propagated many plants himself.  He was a true friend of many.  Known for his hospitality and friendly nature, Jim welcomed total strangers to tour his garden.  His garden, although not huge, was one of the most cherished palm gardens in our area.  His now deceased wife, Lise, and Jim spent countless time over many decades developing the garden and making it a real showpiece of gardening excellence.  The garden was photographed and featured in many national magazines over the years.
Jim, with his wife Suzan at the time, bought his home and property in 1963.  It had not landscaping at the time.  For some unknown reason he developed a passion for palm trees and tropical plants.  Soon after moving into his new home, he started collecting rare palms from anywhere he could find them.  He became friends with Ed Moore of San Diego and Rudy Lasaga, both of whom have since passed away.  He made friends with many pioneering and original palm enthusiasts in Southern California and, species by species, added more exotic palms to his garden. 
He raised three children in his home.  In the approximate mid 1970's he married Lise, who shared his passion for the plants.  This passion led them to purchasing the house next door to the south and expanding their garden.  Not only did they grow palms, but both also had a passion for other tropical plants including bromeliads, roses and orchids.  Jim was famous for mounting epiphytes on the trunks of overhead palms.  And, he meticulously maintained the garden.  It didn't matter when you dropped by, the garden was always beautiful and ready to show.  
Because of his broad interest in many types of plants, not only was Jim a member of the Palm Society, he was also deeply involved with the Bromeliad and Orchid Societies and had literally hundreds of friends throughout the plant communities in the San Diego area.  He had a vast knowledge about plants that he was always willing to share with others.  He was very generous with his time and energy when it came to plant matters.  He was always a friend to all.  
Jim was the one who originally got me involved with palms.  I met him in the very early 1970's while I was in medical school.  We did research together at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  We later traveled to Antarctica.  This was followed by trips to Central America and many other exotic locations.  From the beginning, Jim told me "you've got to try some palm trees".  I did listen and thereafter developed my keen interest in palms.  But, he was the impetus that got me involved from the beginning.  I have always felt indebted to Jim for this and thank him for his time and energy in getting me into palm trees.  It's a great loss for me to know he's no longer there to chat over the phone about plants, weather or whatever.  I could tell countless stories about Jim but that'll have to wait for another day.  
In more recent times Jim had been plagued with health issues.  He was hospitalized at Thornton Hospital, UCSD, in La Jolla several days ago.  I visited him yesterday afternoon and, typical of Jim, even to the end, he was very friendly, talkative and likeable.  And, yes, we did talk about plants and the garden yesterday.  But, he knew his end was near and told me he was ready.  As much as I didn't want to hear that, I did acknowledge him and tell him he'd be dearly missed.
He passed away at about 11:00 PM last night.  He is survived by his son, Steve and daughter, Stacy.  At present I have no information on any memorial services.  I'll show some photographs of Jim below and make comments as best as I can.  Photos were from a variety of sources including friends and family.  Some were scanned from 40 year old pictures.
Phil Bergman
San Diego, California



There will be a memorial service, a "Celebration of the Life of Jim Wright", at the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas, CA  on Saturday, September 26, 2015.  The service will begin at 9:00 AM.  Friends, botanical acquaintances and family are invited to attend. 



Below is a picture of Jim's family taken maybe
fifteen to twenty years ago.  From left to right are Lise (now deceased), Jeff (deceased), Steve, Jim and his daughter Stacy

Jim Family

This is a picture of Jim doing what he most
enjoyed:  looking at plants.

Jim Wright
As a younger man, Jim loved to jog and
participate in hiking and some sports.

Jim wright
Picture of Jim in the front yard of his
garden and home in San Diego

Jim Wright

Photo of Jim and (as I recall) a
tribesman in Peru during an IPS

Jim Wright 
Photo of Jim and Lise in their garden

jIM AND LISE Wright 
Photo of Jim and I in Costa Rica in the mid-
1970's.  We were on an expedition to the
Osa Peninsula region to see palm trees.  In this picture we were actually in eastern Costa Rica in a canoe on a black water river.  We had passed a nest of "buzzer bees" and Jim was getting them out of his hair.

Jim Wright & Phil Bergman

A favorite picture of Jim while we were on that
trip in Costa Rica.  We had been on horseback
for about 3 hours, were exhausted and hot.  We
needed a picture to capture the moment.  With the
addition of the props of whiskey, a rifle, cigar and hat, we took this picture of Jim.  We laughed for hours about it.

Jim Wright

Jim, Lise and friends

Jim Wright and Lise



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