Perry Coppins is credited with starting the Naples Orchid Society on May 3, 1962, when he called together twenty-one potential members to meet at the Voodoo Orchid Range, later known as Tiki Gardens. The first business accomplished was the election of officers. Lloyd Easterling, Mayor of Naples, became the first president. Members were urged to bring their orchids to the meeting to share with others. Dues were decided on and the monthly meeting would take place on the first Thursday of the month.
By August of 1962, the society had increased to thirty-two members. The first plant raffle was held, earning $13.80 for the treasury. For many years, the monthly plant raffle and the membership dues were the only source of income.
In October of the same year, by-laws were adopted and the mission of NOS was clearly stated: “The purpose of NOS (a non-profit organization) is devoted to the promotion of interest in and appreciation of orchids and the preserving of our native orchids. NOS will disseminate information on orchid culture and hybridization.” Tom Fennell, from Orchid Jungle, was the first guest speaker. He encouraged and influenced NOS to become affiliated with the American Orchid Society.
By December, the society moved its meeting to the Federal Savings and Loan Building. The Garden Club invited the society to enter a display in their annual show. The display of orchids at the annual show was a huge success. Displaying at the Garden Club show became an annual event for many years.
By the end of the first year the membership had doubled and it was decided to start a library.
In 1972, NOS had their first show under the directions of Laban and Jean LeBuff. It was Jean’s idea to make the shows more professional. It was important to have AOS sponsor and judge the shows. Thus, the membership would learn how to judge an orchid and learn the AOS rules that goven the show. Due to Jean’s foresight, the NOS reputation has grown steadily and presently they are recognized nationally.
Bus trips to shows and orchid ranges on the East and West Coasts became a yearly routine. Not so routine was a field trip to Marco Island to collect native orchids in an area that was to be razed. The Trip produced many fine plants and a roaring rash of chigger bites.
In 1977, we paid the first of two installments of $1,000 donation to Southwest Heritage, which gave us entry for meetings at Naples Depot. Rent was high but worth it. The increasing income allowed us to incorporate the Society and achieve a tax-free number, to rent storage space for the supplies and library, to send annual donations to the American Orchid Society and Marie Selby Gardens. The pleasant feature of after-meeting refreshments was inaugurated. A savings account was also opened.
The number of show table plants rapidly increased. An orchid plant was awarded to the exhibitor that is lucky enough to have their name drawn. The “Popularity vote”‘ method of choosing the winners was supplemented by awards bestowed by one of our
four professional growers on outstanding plants. This feature supplies some of the expert judging that our show tables lacked in the past.
Beginner and advanced courses on orchid culture were started and have been held every year since.
In July 1982, a gold orchid pin (donated to NOS) was raffled. The proceeds, $450, were sent to AOS to be applied to their Video Tape project. In response to this, AOS in March 1983 donated a BIc Pamela Hetherington ‘Coronation’ FCC/AOS. This plant was raffled off during the next three meetings. The $500 from this raffle was sent to AOS to be
used to help finance the World Orchid Conference and show to be held in Miami.
Donations to AOS and Selby Gardens were and are being made each year.
In 1988 the AOS instituted a membership drive. Through the efforts of our AOS Representative, 38 new members joined AOS.
Due to renovation of the Naples Depot, the NOS was no longer able to hold the NOS show at that location. After considerable searching for a new location, it was agreed to hold it at the Conservancy in Naples. Therefore, beginning in March 1989 all NOS shows were held at the Conservancy. This area made a beautiful setting for the orchid show. In addition we entered into a project with them of planting native Florida orchids on the trees in the Conservancy. The plants are donated by our members. This will continue as an on-going project.
The year 1992 marked the 30th anniversary of the Naples Orchid Society. At the time we had 200 members of which 105 are members of AOS. We had an average attendance of 75. Our library contained over 150 books as well as many volumes
of AOS Bulletins and Awards Quarterly’s.
In early days to the present, one NOS board of directors after another has had the following concerns:
- How do we increase membership?
- How do we maintain attendance and interest?
- How do we teach and educate others about orchid culture and the preservation of our native orchids?
Like Naples, the NOS story has been one of success and growth. NOS has monthly meetings, now at the Moorings Presbyterian Church, and each month, a newsletter, a plant raffle and plant awards; a yearly culture class, sale and show. The treasury permitting, the NOS gives two $2,000 scholarships/internships annually. Over the years, NOS has donated to various orchid causes (the AOS, Rookery Bay Conservancy, Selby Gardens and the Native Orchid Restoration Project, to name but a few.) Orchid plants have been attached to trees, to naturalize, at the Naples Zoo, the Garden of Hope and Courage at the Naples Community Hospital and several local hospices.
By Jan Kadet and Susan Roehl
(with information taken from a report by Harry W. Moeller, AOS Representative, January 1992)