Charles Holman, 83, retired executive, horticultural volunteer

Charles Holman
Charles Holman
Posted: December 16, 2011

Charles Holman, 83, formerly of Rittenhouse Square, a retired lumber company executive and horticulturist, died of cancer Monday, Dec. 12, at Northeast Regional Hospice in Scranton.

Mr. Holman volunteered and donated trees for the colonial garden maintained by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in Society Hill. He was a volunteer at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, and a volunteer at Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill.

"Charlie has been a friend, a hardworking horticulture volunteer, and supporter for over 30 years," said Paul W. Meyer, director of the Morris Arboretum.

Mr. Holman donated funds and did the hands-on cleaning to restore the Step Fountain and the Key Fountain at the arboretum, Meyer said.

"His first passion, though, was the Arboretum Rose Garden. During the 1980s and '90s, he worked in the Rose Garden several half-days each week, pruning and weeding," Meyer said. "In that role, he got to know many arboretum interns over the years. Those experiences inspired him to provide for an endowment to fund the Charles Holman Rose Garden Internship, to give yearlong practical experience to a horticulture student each year."

Mr. Holman lived in Center City from about 1970 to the late 1990s, when he returned to his family's home in Scranton. There, he tended a large garden with 600 rose bushes. "It was a labor of love," said a friend, Michael Harris.

Every year, Mr. Holman came back to Philadelphia with a group of friends for the May plant sale at Morris Arboretum.

"They have a variety of plants you don't find anywhere else, and they are in marvelous condition. And if you have any questions, they know everything about the plant you are buying," he told The Inquirer at the sale in 2005.

For years, Mr. Holman wintered in Palm Beach, Fla., where he was a volunteer in the garden at the Society of the Four Arts and at Pan's Garden.

Mr. Holman was a graduate of Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa., and attended Wyoming Seminary School of Business before joining the family firm Robbins Door & Sash Co. The Holman family sold the lumber company, a major distributor for Andersen Windows, in the early 1970s. Mr. Holman also managed commercial real estate holdings in the Scranton area.

He is survived by nieces Robin Holman and Sandy Kenosky.

A funeral service will be at noon Friday, Dec. 16, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 550 Madison Ave., Scranton. Friends may call from 11 a.m. Burial will be in Abington Hills Cemetery, Scranton.


Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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