BELLVILLE — A man whose reputation and contributions were known in the Clear Fork Valley and beyond, passed away Wednesday.
Van Wade, owner of Wade and Gatton Nurseries, died. He was 86.
Wade was active in Bellville and the Clear Fork Valley, and had been involved with the Shade Tree Commission in Bellville for 39 years. The village’s Arbor Day observance was always partially orchestrated by Wade.
The village of Bellville lowered a flag which says “Tree City USA” to half-mast upon learning of Wade’s death.
The family was making funeral arrangements with Snyder Funeral Home.
The history of Wade and Gatton Nurseries is lengthy. Its start was in 1928.
Ken Cochran, retired from the Secrest Arboretum in Wooster and ATI, the Agricultural Technical Institute, said people “all over the world” knew Wade because of his work with hosta plants. Cochran said Wade was known for his giving and there was a lot of “value in that.”
Display gardens were installed at Wade and Gatton Nurseries, and people would “travel from far and wide” to see them, Cochran said.
Wade used to lead tours of the display gardens, which were “beautiful,” Cochran remembered.
The village of Bellville has an Arbor Day celebration scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. That will go on as scheduled, even though Wade will not be available to participate.
Bellville mayor Teri Brenkus said Wade was responsible for contributing shrubs, trees and plants to Bellville over the years.
Becky Wade, a granddaughter, said Wade sold Christmas trees starting in 1950, and in 1962 bought the nursery from his father, Si Wade. She said one of the proudest things he did was to sell trees which were used around the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
A bench at the Chadwick Arboretum at The Ohio State University central campus bears his name, Becky Wade said.
Wade studied at ATI, outside Wooster, and at The Ohio State University,Wade said.
Information the nurseries distribute says the retail garden center, located between Bellville and Butler, is on five to six acres. It says the enterprise is known for its large display and botanical gardens, with more than 2,300 varieties of hostas and more than 1,500 varieties of daylillies. The business also has other perennials, conifers, shade and ornamental trees.
Wade and Gatton Nurseries was started when a group of area residents — Pearl Gatton, Nell Wade and Adelia Gatton — had small private gardens.
Van Wade and his wife, Shirley, added additional features starting in 1983.
The area sits on hillsides and slopes and is in a woodland setting. There are giant Canadian Hemlocks, White Oaks, hundred year old Sugar Maples, 70 year old white pines and 80 to 90 foot tall European Larch trees. They provide shade to a small stream and waterfall nearby.