Rose Bud: Volunteer spends 50 years helping with roses

Published on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 23:52 - Written by Faith Harper, fharper@tylerpaper.com

For half a century, Imogene Kimberly has helped create a piece of the magic associated with the Texas Rose Festival.

For 50 years, the 88-year-old Lindale resident has helped with the Rose Show, and she will lend a hand again for the 81st annual Texas Rose Festival in October.

The Rose Show is an impressive static display of roughly 600 dozen roses arranged to compliment the theme of the festival, said the 2014 Rose Show chairwoman Melissa Jackson. Typically, it features a painted backdrop with props and greenery, designed by Raymond Krueger, with Jerry’s Flowers.

Nestled in the center of the Tyler Rose Garden Center, the showcase provides the backdrop for the ribbon cutting and prayer service — the opening service for Rose Festival week, Ms. Jackson said.

Mrs. Kimberly said the work entails stripping the leaves from the stems, cutting the roses to size and placing like-colored flowers in small arrangements, which become blocks in the overall puzzle of the arrangement.

The work is less intense now than when she started.

She said the Rose Show used to cover both sides of a long hallway inside the former Rose Center. Then, it was housed in the rooms within the current center before making its last move to the entryway to the Rose Gardens.

Mrs. Kimberly said she first got involved in 1964 while serving cold drinks and snacks with the band booster club. She participated that first year and hasn’t missed a Rose Show since.

“I like being with people, really,” Mrs. Kimberly said. “I always meet new people every year, and that’s interesting to me to get to meet them. We always had sweet (people) to work with.”

After the festival, the flowers that are still full of life will be distributed to hospice and nursing home patients to help brighten their day and bring the festival spirit into the homes of others, organizers said.

Mrs. Kimberly also has recruited a small, but dedicated, team of volunteers through her church at First Baptist Church of Lindale, where she is an active member of the congregation.

“I’ve always said an idol mind is the devils workshop,” Mrs. Kimberly said, noting she stays active.

“Although the chairmen and the Rose Show committee changes each year, the volunteerism of Imogene Kimberly and the ladies that she brings to help have remained consistent for 50-plus years,” Ms. Jackson said. “The success of the entire Rose Festival is particularly dependent upon volunteers and to have volunteers like Imogene Kimberly and the ladies that she brings to help with the Rose Show is truly priceless.”

Liz Ballard, executive director of the Texas Rose Festival, said it takes hundreds of volunteers to make the festival a success.

“They spend hundreds of hours planning, producing and making this all come to life,” she said. “We’ve got the list of volunteers, and they are so gracious to come back and do it every year, and she’s got a true passion for the art.”

The 2014 Texas Rose Festival, with the theme “Cirque de la Rose” will run from Oct. 16 through Oct. 19. The opening ceremony, featuring a ribbon cutting and prayer service, will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 16 in the atrium of the Rose Garden Center. The event is free to the public.