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An Evening of Wine & Roses

by Bob Martin

Since 1997, when Shreveport resident Mary Johnston was recognized for her significant role in the ROSE being named America’s National Floral Emblem, the American Rose Center has honored others who have made important contributions to the Gardens with the Mary Johnston Award. The awards have been presented at gala Evening of Wine & Roses dinners.

We honored American Rose Society President Robert B. Martin, Jr. with the Mary Johnston Award at Wine & Roses on June 3, 2021. Bob is the first non-Shreveport resident to receive the award. He is being recognized for an unprecedented commitment to America’s Rose Garden as a vital society and community asset, which has seen considerable growth and success as he made America’s Rose Garden and the American Rose Center a priority during his term as President.

> Mary Johnston Award Recipients

> Mary Johnston – 1997

> W. C. Rasberry, Jr. – 1998

> Dr. Charles T. Beaird – 1999

> Virginia Kilpatrick Shehee – 2000

> Quintin T. Hardtner, III – 2001

> O. Delton Harrison, Jr. – 2002

> Dayna Sawyer – 2003

> Dr. Harold & Mrs. Ida Hayden – 2004

> John D. Caruthers, Jr. – 2005

> Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau – 2006

> Margaret “Maggie” Martin – 2019

> Robert B Martin Jr – 2021

The American Rose Center in Shreveport, Louisiana is the crown jewel of the American Rose Society. Created in 1974, it is the headquarters of the Society and the home of America’s Rose Garden. The property is owned debt-free by the Society and through its Maintenance Endowment Trust that I authored in 1991, is maintained at no additional cost to the Society.

Support for the American Rose Center was a key objective in my three campaigns for Vice President. And, as Vice President I signed on to the vision of our then-President Pat Shanley to undertake the Great Garden Restoration, calling on all members of the American Rose Society, the rose industry, the community of Shreveport and all who love roses to recognize this great treasure, to visit it, to support it financially and to join with us in support of the Master Plan 2017-2022 for the American Rose Center.

As President of the American Rose Society and Chair of the Trustees of the Maintenance Endowment Trust, I have made the completion of the Great Garden Restoration my Number #1 Priority. And, as the plan stands on the threshold of its completion, I am honored to receive the Mary Johnston Award in recognition for my commitment to America’s Rose Garden and the American Rose Center.

In the 1935 American Rose Annual, a Committee formed two years earlier, described a proposed Rosarium of the American Rose Society. There, they envisioned a large area with a “comprehensive display” of roses “more complete than any municipal rose garden.” They hoped it would showcase the “landscape value of shrub roses” and areas “devoted to special exhibitions”. They also envisioned a “suitable library building” with all supported by a “definitive financial foundation” “independent of governmental subvention or partisan influence.” To those who thought the project too idealistic, they quoted the words of the late municipal designer, D. H. Burnham:

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high and hope and work; remembering that a noble, logical design once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistency.”

Today our big plans stand nearly realized. I am thankful for all of those in the Shreveport community, as well as all members of the American Rose Society who have recognized this great treasure and have joined with me in continuing to support the American Rose Center.


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