Donor Stories

Founded through the generosity of Laura Tyler in 1944, Tyler Arobretum is one of the oldest arboreta in the northeastern United States.  Since that time, generous donors, members, and volunteers have dedicated their valuable time and money to Tyler Arboretum. This generosity makes our exciting exhibitions, educational programs, and entertaining events possible. And perhaps most importantly, support from individuals like the ones listed below helps Tyler protect and preserve the 650 acres for future generations. These donor portraits represent just a few ways that an individual can help.

To learn how you can support Tyler Arboretum, please contact:
Jill Liebling
Development Manager
(610) 566-9134 x 267

John C. and Gertrude S. Wister

John C. & Gertrude S. Wister

In May 2001, Tyler Arboretum received a $2.7 million gift from the joint estate of Gertrude S. and John C. Wister – the largest such gift in the Arboretum’s history.

Dr. Wister, who died in 1982, was the Arboretum’s first director and a nationally renowned horticulturalist. Under Dr. Wister’s guidance, the collections of the Arboretum were greatly expanded to include the best of natural, historic, and contemporary ornamental trees and shrubs for the region. Mrs. Wister, who was widely recognized in the horticultural field for her many contributions, served Tyler for more than 50 years as a dedicated volunteer, Assistant Director, Acting Director, Trustee, and thoughtful donor until her death in 1999. “Mrs. Wister had a special place in her heart for Tyler,” explains Executive Director Rick Colbert. “We’re very grateful for this gift, and for her tremendous faith and confidence in us. Tyler will be a better Arboretum as a result of the Wisters’ generosity.”

The Wisters specified that their gift be placed in Tyler’s endowment, the annual interest of which helps fund full-time horticulturalist and public relations manager staff positions. Their gift also provided essential “seed money” related to the ongoing restoration of the Rhododendron Collection.

By including Tyler Arboretum in their estate planning, the Wisters have provided an extremely useful and lasting legacy that appropriately reflects their longtime commitment to the Arboretum.

Conard and Anne Donnell

Conard and Anne Donnell

The mission of Tyler Arboretum is to preserve, develop and share our diverse horticultural, historic and natural site resources in order to stimulate stewardship and understanding of our living world.

Diversity – one of the Arboretum’s shining features – is what attracted Anne Donnell and her late husband, Conard, to Tyler in the first place. It is also why they decided to include Tyler in their estate plans and become a member of the Arboretum’s Sequoia Society.

“We belonged to numerous gardens in the area, but we really appreciated Tyler’s efforts to attract a diverse audience, and especially school children,” Anne says. “It is very important to educate children and help this next generation understand the importance of preserving ecosystems such as those found at Tyler.”

Anne and Conard strongly believed in Tyler’s education programs for children as well as adults, and felt it was important to provide support for the varied ways the Arboretum reaches out to the community.

“Encouraging education in its many forms at Tyler is definitely a priority,” states Anne. “And Conard and I certainly enjoyed our own share of wonderful learning experiences throughout the years at the Arboretum.”

Tyler Arboretum is indebted to Anne and Conard Donnell. They recognized the Arboretum’s strength in its diversity, including its value as educators on many different levels. By making Tyler part of their estate planning and becoming members of the Sequoia Society, they help perpetuate Tyler’s mission and, at the same time, provide a wonderful example for others to follow.

Bill and Judy Strine

Bill and Judy Strine

Past, present, future…

When Judy and Bill Strine talk about Tyler, they acknowledge its historical legacy, describe its current relevance to the community and voice their hopes for tomorrow’s Arboretum.

As long-time supporters with a special commitment to Tyler, Judy and Bill know what they’re talking about. Judy served on Tyler’s Board of Trustees and was active on several Board committees. Judy and Bill are two big reasons for the continuing success of the Arboretum’s “Tyler at Twilight” Auction. The Strines are also Circle of Friends members, and generously support the Annual Fund Drive.

Judy and Bill have further strengthened their commitment to Tyler by recently including the Arboretum in their estate plans and becoming members of the Arboretum’s planned giving Sequoia Society. They urge others to follow suit: “It is one thing to love and enjoy this marvelous place while we are here. It is better yet to be able to see that those coming after us will be able to enjoy it as we have.”

The Strines are appreciative of Tyler’s role as educator, especially in regard to the more than 7,500 school children – “those coming after us” – that annually visit the Arboretum.

“Education programs are critical,” say the Strines. “They are one of the most important programs that we offer. At Tyler, children have the opportunity to walk and learn first hand about our environment. They are able to develop an appreciation for birds, trees, and flowers.”

By including Tyler in their estate plans, Judy and Bill Strine have generously helped ensure the Arboretum’s value as a unique and relevant community resource for natural open space, horticulture, environmental education, and local history. Their thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.

Let’s let the Strines have the last word: “If we think Tyler is a precious treasure, we all have to work to preserve it so that our kids and grandchildren will have a Tyler to enjoy.”

The material presented by Tyler Arboretum is not offered as legal or tax advice.

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