The Five Great Zins of Harold Young

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I was sad to hear of the death of Harold Young, who was the editor and publisher of the Pacific Coast Nurseryman magazine from 1973 to 2004. I first met Harold in 1974 when we were planning the 1975 Bedding Plant Conference for Newport Beach, Calif. I soon found out Harold was well connected to the ornamental industry on the West Coast. When he became editor of the magazine, he developed a niche for reporting all of the major events and activities of the nursery industry in that area.

Harold was a "people person." He knew everyone and reported on activities from personal information to facts about their companies, association activities and trade shows. I don’t think there was anyone in that area more familiar with the total industry.

His colleague, Managing Editor John Humes, along with publisher Jan Groot, office manager Rita Kwasnick and staffers Heather Kreiser, Kathy Van Saun and Patricia Sueme wrote a wonderful article in the November 2006 issue of the Pacific Coast Nurseryman magazine.

The article encompasses all the facts and information about Harold’s life. However, I would like to add some of my personal feelings as well.

Harold loved to tell stories. He also loved California wines. In fact, at his funeral, they placed several bottles of California wine on the altar in his memory.

I will try to relay my memories and stories and what Harold taught me. Since I have five points to cover, I thought it would be only fitting to title them "The Five Great Zins (Zinfandels) of Harold Young."

I. Harold loved people.

He started in the business working for his sister, Mary Fisher. She was a senior in high school when Harold was born. After he finished his military service, he enrolled in Cal Poly as an English major. He met his wife, Raiann, a year before, and she also attended Cal Poly as a biological sciences major.

In 1959, Harold entered the field of horticulture. He handled advertising, merchandising and customers’ gardening questions at Flowerland Nursery, which was owned by his sister. He learned the trade, including merchandising concepts and everyday nursery practices from Mary and her husband, Herb. He also learned to work for and with people.

In 1966, Harold became secretary of the California Association of Nurserymen’s Inland Empire Chapter. He worked on many committees and, as a member of the market development and public relations committee, helped create a position of public relations director on the staff.

Harold applied for that position and was chosen from over 50 other applicants. This gave him the opportunity to enhance the image of the association to its members and the general public. 

II. Harold provided information.

With his degree in English and his training in horticulture retailing, Harold became a valued source of information. He created many effective programs including promoting living Christmas trees, Arbor Day kits, fall planting campaigns and a "Be a Pro" program to help nursery industry personnel become more professional.

Harold developed weekly garden news releases that were mailed to 450 daily and weekly newspapers, along with a gardener’s checklist.

He was a great ambassador for the California industry. He developed itineraries for visiting nurseries and welcomed associations that held programs in the area. Harold helped promote the 1975 Bedding Plants Incorporated (BPI) Conference in Newport Beach and the 1981 conference in Seattle. He was a great help in developing BPI in the West. He always publicized its activities to his readers. 

III. Harold was a true champion for the ornamental and nursery industries.

In 1973, along with John Chiapelone and Leo and Marge Dupuich, he purchased the Pacific Coast Nurserymen magazine from Art Cox. He became the managing editor and the publisher. He then traveled the Northwest and reported on all the nursery activities in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, as well as national events held in that area. He expanded the staff to two writers and hired John Humes as associate editor in 1976.

I will always remember Harold as the greatest trade show walker I’ve ever known. In fact, the last time we were together was about four years ago when we met at a trade show in Las Vegas. While most people tire of trade shows, Harold never stopped enjoying them, visiting with all his friends and meeting new people. I bet John Humes that few, if any, have walked as many miles in trade shows and visited with as many people as Harold. 

IV. Harold was down to earth.

He never took himself too seriously. Great people never do! He had a balance among his profession, his family and his friends. He loved to tell stories and relate information, but in a non-threatening way. You can see Harold’s style by reading 30 years of the Pacific Coast Nurserymen magazine. He was the historian that captured what was happening over that period of time. He recorded the events. He reported on the associations. He recapped the trade shows. If you couldn’t be at an event, you could count on Harold and John to let you know what happened.

Harold’s style was a smile. He enjoyed people and the magazine reflected that approach. In fact, when I talked with John Humes in December, he said that many people told Harold, "the only good thing to come out of their deaths would be their obituaries in the Pacific Coast Nurserymen magazine."

Harold not only wrote about the facts and dates of a person’s life, he recounted stories about the good works and deeds that each did.

In 1997, he sold the Pacific Coast Nurserymen magazine to Jan Groot, but he stayed on as managing editor and publisher until 2004. He continued to go to many meetings, conventions and trade shows. While others were tired of being around people at the end of a long convention, Harold thrived on the contacts and was energized by them. As John Humes said, "He forged friendships and built bridges with nurserymen across the country. His kindness, insights, astuteness and friendly ways of doing business won him many admirers and friends." 

V. Harold was one of my mentors.

I’ve read the magazine for 30 years to find out what was happening on the Pacific Coast. He was a great asset to our industry. Since he always enjoyed a glass of California wine, when I finished writing this article, I raised a glass in his memory and said, "Well done, thou true and faithful servant."

Will Carlson is a Michigan State University emeritus professor who has devoted his career to educating growers. He also had the vision to launch Greenhouse Grower magazine with Dick Meister more than 25 years ago.

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