Ecke Ranch’s Jack Williams Dies On Overseas Trip

Ecke Ranch's Jack Williams Dies On Overseas Trip

Floriculture industry members were saddened and shocked to learn Ecke Ranch’s Jack Williams died at age 54 in Australia over the weekend. For 26 years, Williams has been the face of Ecke Ranch, helping growers all over the world produce poinsettias and spring annuals. He also was a big part of educational programming at OFA and a past board member.

Following an autopsy, the coroner in Australia determined the cause of death was a Deep Vein Thrombosis that was catastrophic and irreversible. Williams is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and children, Bethany and Stephen, in Encinitas, Calif. Ecke Ranch’s President Andy Higgins says Williams spent last week in Japan and had just arrived in Australia, when he died Monday morning there, which was Sunday in the United States. As a technical specialist for Ecke Ranch and Ecke Europe, Williams visited greenhouses and trial sites throughout the world to evaluate crops, production systems and assess needs for these markets and Ecke Ranch. His focus included not only the poinsettias Ecke Ranch is famous for but all the annual bedding plants, geraniums, kalanchoe and other vegetative annual crops produced and sold by the Ecke companies.

In addition to working with product development, production and the sales and marketing groups for new plant introductions, Williams supported these crops through technical support in the form of production documents, magazine articles, crop production books and grower seminars. Williams also was a regularly featured author in consumer press and a frequent guest on various radio and television programs targeted to home gardeners.

Williams and Paul Ecke III were classmates at Colorado State University, where Williams earned his bachelor of science degree in horticulture/floriculture in 1979. “He was always a much better student than I!” Ecke says. “He was a lucky man, because he had amazing passion and creativity for his job and was literally a ‘rock star’ out in the industry. And he was so proud of his family. Everyone loved Jack.”

He traveled to Asia, Africa, India and Europe, and all around the Americas, Ecke adds. “Everyone knew Jack would be the guy who could help them be successful. He was a huge contributor for Ecke Ranch. Our hearts are going out to his family, and we in the Ecke Ranch family are devastated by this very unexpected news. He will be missed terribly but I know he would have wanted us to carry on and continue to share the beauty of plants and flowers with the world.”
 
One of his best friends, Lloyd Traven at Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania, says, “One of the things that really got to us today was it being poinsettia season, plus we had made plans to get together during the OFA meetings in Columbus this weekend. I had spoken to him last week about doing a whole bunch of new items and shapes, including a poinsettia wreath. We have new people working for us who never grew poinsettias. I reached for the poinsettia manual and a picture fell out from when he turned 50 and there was a contest to find all the pictures at Short Course. He was sitting in a beach chair with a dunce hat and it said, ‘Still Nifty At Fifty.'”

OFA’s Steve Carver says Williams was an enthusiastic influence guiding educational programming at Short Course. “He wanted to create sessions that were interactive in nature that directly addressed growers’ needs,” Carver says. “He would have attendees pull information from him and session presenters. He always wanted to have the best of the best speakers on the program and integrate new talent, for the good of the industry and to keep the program fresh and inviting. Jack also was the consummate facilitator, diplomatically knowing how to redirect when redirection was needed.”

One tradition Carver and the OFA crew always looked forward to was ending the California Spring Trials trip over dinner with Williams. “We’d pick his brain and talk about the industry and its challenges and sit in awe as he shared observations. Frank Zaunscherb recently took a picture of Jack with a butterfly, which I feel was very fitting. Like a butterfly, Jack’s life was bright, beautiful, exciting and way too short.”

Many have been inquiring about funeral services. Ecke’s Higgins says he thinks it will be at least 10 days away, because Williams still needs to be transported back from Australia. We will present the details as soon as we know on GreenhouseGrower.com.

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112 comments on “Ecke Ranch’s Jack Williams Dies On Overseas Trip

  1. As a classmate of Jack’s at Colorado State University during our undergraduate years, I remember his good humor and smile and enthusiasm for all things green. He will be, and is already, sorely missed.

  2. Jack was the best!!! It will be a long time before we see another like him. All of us at Peace Tree will miss him terribly. God Bless, Jack, Rest in Peace.

  3. It is nice to know that my father was loved by so many. Thank you for paying respect to him and all of his accomplishments. May you continue to carry out the vision that he has created.

  4. Jack was so special, His love for his wonderful family,Cheryl, Bethany and Stephen was always a topic of discussion, followed by his love of life, and our industry. Jack will be truly missed by all and what an impact he has made on our industry
    God Bless him and his family,

  5. His family is in shock and ever so sad. We will all miss Jack, his smile, humor, good nature, intelligence, and the fun we always had with him. He was in Creede, CO fishing with Steve, his father, George, brother, Ray and Dana Carroll. He and Cheryl celebrated their 30th annniversary here in Pueblo, and he left us with the very best memories. We love you, Jack. Pattee Williams

  6. We spent a great evening with Jack in Brisbane Australia on the Thursday night before he passed away. Lovely memories, good food and a couple of Aussie red wines but most importantly lots of laughs. Love you Jack, you will be greatly missed around the world. RIP mate! Taken far too soon.

  7. Jack made us smile and filled us with knowledge. He visited every arrow in the photo above except the arrow pointing straight up. Even God needs advice in his garden. We will miss this great person.

  8. Jack was such a big part of a great industry. There is a big void with his passing. Jack’s fun and intellectual demeanor made him standout as a person in our industry I sought out and always looked forward to seeing. Jack was an inspiration to me and many others, I am sure.

  9. Jack,I can still hear your voice and your wonderful laugh. My heart goes out to your family. It was an honor to know you. You will not be forgotten.

  10. Jack,you were one of the best.I can’t believe that your visit in Sept. is going to be your last.We are going to miss you,the industry will not be the same without you.Our deepest sympathies to your family

  11. A great loss, I always look forward and enjoyed Jacks passion for plants and people! My thoughts are with his family. God bless!!

  12. Our hearts are broken for the Williams family. We have been neighbors for over 25 years. Jack’s love of life was contagious. We will miss his happiness and laughter. This earth has suffered a great loss and heaven is rejoicing over their great gain.

  13. As Jack’s CSU classmate, I’ll tell you he never stopped learning after all these years. He truely had a gift for presenting information both verbally and in the written word. Such passion! And that laugh! I’m grateful for his friendship. My deepest sypathies to Cheryl, Stephen and Bethany as well as the rest of his family.

  14. Jack

    it was always a pleasure working with you, and i will miss your wonderful smile and your positve attitude, rest in peace my friend.

  15. Jack was very special to us. Despite his busy schedule he made time to meet and make our granddaughter feel privileged to be recognized by such an important person in his field. Jack was truly a reflection of two wonderful parents and he will be sorely missed. Dick and Gloria Elm. 5823955

  16. My heart aches at his loss. I can only imagine what his family is feeling. I mourn the loss of a good man and a valuable colleague. He was truly a scholar and a gentleman. Peace be with you Jack.

  17. I am yet in disbelief at the sad news of this great loss! I had the opportunity, and pleasure, to work with Jack at PER during the past 8 ½ years. He exuded passion not only for his work but for life in general. I greatly admired his immense knowledge of this industry and his respect and love for all cultures. You are and will continue to be greatly missed, Jack!

  18. All of us at Loblaw (our Garden Team and our partner growers) are truly and deeply shocked and saddened by Jack’s untimely passing. He has been a friend and supporter of our businesses for so many years and a personal friend of so many of us. He always found time to make it up to Canada to visit our growers and to Toronto for our spring media plant launch – all it took was a call, and he’d figure out how to move mountains so that he could be there for us. The garden media have so looked forward to hearing him speak every year.
    I will miss his great intelect, profound knowledge of plants, wonderful sense of humour, great travel stories and infectious laugh. And boy, could he ever make a GREAT cheesecake! Spring Trials will never be the same again.

  19. On behalf of the Members, Officers & the Board of Directors of the South West Region of the American Institute of Floral Designers, our heavy hearts, our caring thoughts and our very special prayers are with the Jack William’s Family at this most difficult time –
    Michael Quesada, AIFD
    SW AIFD REGIONAL PRESIDENT 2010-2011

  20. Jack,you were a great husband, great father, great son, and truly great friend. I cannot imagine my life without you in it – you have been my true friend for 20 years and I will miss you terribly. Who will finish my sentences for me? Who can I travel with and laugh with the way we did in the past? Who will know what I am thinking of without having to say a word? Your loss will be felt by our wonderful industry and by all those in it who loved you. May you be safe in your mother’s arms working together on that heavenly garden. You will be with us always, in our hearts, in our minds, and deep in our garden-loving bones.

  21. Jack was extremely helpful during my graduate student years supplying genetics and research guidance. As time passed, a great friend to chat with and share road stories. A great floriculturist has left us and will missed by many. Rest in peace Jack Williams.

  22. All I had to do was walk into the greenhouses at Ecke Ranch during Spring Trials and say I was writing a story for a magazine in Canada, and Jack was there. For more than an hour during one of the busiest times of the year, he took the time to fill me in on the history of the Trials and to tour me around the greenhouse. And he continued to be there for me and many other members of the gardening media to answer our questions, give advice and share his enthusiasm for plants, horticulture and the industry. We are all so fortunate to have worked with him. May you be surrounded by exciting new cultivars, Jack!

  23. When I received the news at Atlanta Hartsfield Intl. Airport, through a voice mail, today Monday, Oct. 19, I could not wait to get home to Puerto Rico to verify that the news was true. He was my best adviser with my poinsettias, helping me grow quality plants each and every season. I learned a lot from him. I constantly keep in contact with him whenever I had any questions or problems .Just two weeks ago I wrote to him with respect to a problem; he never failed me; he was a true motivator, where my opinions, concerns, or comments were appreciated. I have become one of the best producers of this beautiful plant in all of Puerto Rico. To be honest, I felt proud to say that I was a friend of Jack who had so much prestige in my island of Puerto Rico. !Hasta siempe Jack!

  24. Jack was a giant in our industry, but never hesitated to talk with anyone, anytime. His knowledge, passion, vision, and commitment to superior plants and education were something I can only try to achieve. He was a true ambassador for floriculture and I will miss him dearly. My condolences to his family and his friends (aka, everyone that ever met him).

  25. Every so often God graces our earth with an extraordinary person,and that is what Jack was.He always took the time to help me in my tiny little greenhouse in the middle of Kansas,and his help was invaluable!He always had something funny to say,and always returned a call.Even though I never got to personally meet him,I always felt he was a true friend.Because of him I now grow gorgeous Ecke poinsettias.I am deeply saddened and my heart and prayers go out to his family and friends.

  26. Jack was a Friend that helped me to understand the poinsettia “Stella di Natale” Chrystmas Star, and now I try to make the same in my country.
    I’m very sad thinking his Family that he sincerelly loved. Always he spoke about his Family each time we meet.
    Ciao Jack

  27. Jack’s zest for life and love of beauty, his perpetual smile and twinkling eyes, and his helpful, caring, and loving ways made him a true gift from God for all that crossed his path.
    As we thank God for his coming, may we hold all that was his essence close to us and Celebrate his life.

  28. Jack was one of the best. Always friendly, enthusiastic, excited and knowledgeable about his plants. I always looked forward to talking with him at Spring Trials. Rest in peace, Jack. Prayers are going out to you and your family. We will miss you.

  29. Everyone here at Krueger-Maddux is saddened by the loss of such an incredible person. We will miss him greatly. His passion for our industry is an inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

  30. I found this from Jack in an email dated December 18 of 2009. This is the Jack we all knew and will dearly miss.
    “As you say…we are blessed! It is clearly a good reminder to us all this time of year that we live in an incredible place and have families that lift us up….what more can we ask for!”

  31. My goodness how heaven is celebrating and rejoicing to have Jack. How deep is my sense of loss and pain! “My twin of a different mother” and friend. Jack was so much apart of what I love about our industry. He made the “long hours and low pay” when I came back to the industry worth it. Our 20th Annual Poinsettia Celebration is this year. It will be one of the few Jack missed.
    Jack you will live in the hearts of so many. Thanks for being a great father, husband, twin and friend. I love you BIG TIME and am so jealous of heaven today. Hugs!

  32. Like many, I have been deeply moved and saddened with the loss of Jack. We just talked last week and I am still shocked that he is gone. He was a close friend and colleague. Jack and I gave many talks together and we always enjoyed each other’s humor and interaction. More importantly though, I always admired and respected Jack’s knowledge, dedication, and enthusiam for making our floriculture industry better. May he rest in Peace. I will miss him.

  33. I am devastated and deeply saddened by the loss of my very dear friend, creative partner and mentor, Jack. I was privileged to get to work so closely with this creative master class. One of his greatest gifts was making everyone around him better. He has made me a better person and for that I will be eternally grateful. He inspired me and challenged me to be the best that I could be. He truly was a “Jack” of all trades, master of all! There wasn’t anything that Jack couldn’t do or wouldn’t try. He lived an authentic and passionate life. He loved his life, his family and friends and his work. His heart was bigger than anyone’s that I have ever known. He lived his life to the fullest and was a loyal and generous friend. I can’t begin to imagine my life without Jack being in it, but he will live on in my heart always. I love you Jack and I thank you for being my loyal, generous friend and brother. My love and prayers go out to Cheryl, Steven and Bethany.

  34. Jack’s passion for his work and for the industry has been an inspiration to all of us. My husband and I always looked forward to seeing him at the Short Course; his enthusiasm was contagious! He always took time to talk in between classes, no matter how busy he was. May his family and friends find comfort in happy memories of this truly special person.

  35. I had the great opportunity to work with Jack the past four years as our advertising agency, Swanson Russell, worked on the Ecke/Oglevee catalogs with Snow Maestas and Jack on these projects. I’m quite saddened to hear about Jack’s passing and thoroughly enjoyed working with him..it really wasn’t like working with him, it was more like enjoying Jack’s company than work. He will be sorely missed.

  36. I learned how to grow poinsettias 10 years ago from going to seminars with Jack & Harvey Lang. His technical advice saved this novice many times before I committed a fatal error with my crops. I will miss his help and his sense of humor. My heart goes out to his family.

  37. Few are as humble as Jack yet seem to have so much knowledge. No matter what the topic, Jack either had the answer or would guide us to it. If we had a problem, somehow he had a solution. Whether he directly fixed the problem or not, he gave us a positive direction.

  38. I Just can’t really put into words how sad I am to hear of Jack’s passing. He was a man with incredible passion for life who shared that enthusiasm with all whom he met. As I attended my 1st Poinsettia trials, nervous and naive; Jack took me under his wing and taught me so much. I will never forget the respect and encouragement he gave me. God blessed us with you Jack! My heart goes out to your family & Friends. Great Big Hug!

  39. I always looked forward to seeing Jack at OFA meetings and at Short Course. I had the honor of serving on OFA Board and several years of Grower Committees with Jack. We will miss his smiles, laughter and wisdom. I always enjoyed hearing about his travels and his many stories. And whenever I asked him for advice on growing crops, he was always so focused on the question and so sincere with the answers. Jack was genuine. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss you Jack!!

  40. I am very sad with this news. I dont have words to explain my feelings about, i will always have present in my life all the things that he teach me. I will always remember him as an amazing person.RIP JACK .

  41. Jack was a very nice person. He contributed a lot in Chinese poinsettia industry for Ecke genetics and provided great support to share his technology and passion in China with us.

    We enjoyed travelling with him in China, discussing and advising on Poinsettias: Beijing, Shanghai, Canton, Shenyang, Taiyuan, Canton, Kunming, and even inner Mongolia had got his footprints.

    He will remain, with his generosity, friendship and outstanding work, in our memory.

  42. Jack always took my numerous phone calls, listened to my issues and helped me with all that I had which I am thinking was more than the average caller. At one point I was visiting family in Mission Viejo, CA and realized it was not that far away from ECKE and where Jack was. I called him to ask if I could visit and with open arms Jack took time (and probably too much) out of his day to show me and further educate me about what his job was and what ECKE was all about. It was a day that I will never forget because I had one on one with an EXPERT and he didnt care that I was a small grower. He just wanted to help me learn. To his family my prayers are with you in your grieving its not gonna be eay because you had a special person in your life. Be proud he helped me the small grower which I would bet was and would be hard to come by these days. GOD BLESS

  43. Jack was a Centennial H.S. classmate. Chad Stevens advised me of his passing, and of this link. Reading the submissions, what an outpouring of love! A true testament to an outstanding human being. My condolences to Cheryl and the kids, and the entire family at home and at Ecke Ranch. A reminder to the rest of us to let no expression of our caring go unsaid. I always remember Jack with a smile on his face. He had a social conscience, in a time when many of us were consumed with “me”. It was fantastic to hear all his accomplishments and to acknowledge his many friends and family. What a wonderful legacy. Such a bright flame is missed, except that we renew it…. I will never look at a poinsettia the same way again….
    – Rob Fleming, Centennial Class of ’74
    General Counsel, PET International,Inc.;
    (giftofmobility.org)

  44. There are times in our careers, just like in our lives, where we get so wrapped up in the rat race and the day to day that we forget it is people that make great things happen. Jack was such a passionate influence and mentor in my early career in this industry. My respect for him grew every time I had the pleasure of speaking with him. His energy, love and passion for life were contagious and he will be deeply missed. My prayers go out to his family, friends and associates.
    Steve Abruzzo
    Martinez Farms

  45. Amigo Jack, jamás olvidaremos:

    √ Tu Profesionalidad y pasión por el trabajo en esta compleja industria.

    √ Tus conocimientos en Poinsettia, los cuales has ido sembrando por todo el mundo, dejándonos ahí a todos otro gran legado.

    √ Tu afable personalidad y esa buena intención de comunicar conocimientos y recibir información, sobre esas estrellas que con tú ayuda hemos hecho florecer en todo el mundo.

    Este año tus/nuestras estrellas (Poinsettias) están brillando mas que nunca pero esta navidad brillaran mas y mas, esperando que te iluminen allí donde estés. Así lo desean nuestros corazones y así será.

    A Sheryl esposa y sus hijos Beth y Steven, gracias por haberlo compartido con todos nosotros, cultivadores del mundo. Nuestro más sentido pésame.

    Vivirás con nosotros en nuestra memoria, amigo Jack.
    Te recordaremos con tu inolvidable sonrisa y aprovecharemos tu legado creciendo y cultivando las que son tus/nuestras bellas Poinsettias.

    La Coruña España

  46. We are very saddened by the news of Jack’s passing. We knew him to be a friendly and kind person, and our hearts go out to George and Pattee and Jack’s family for their loss.

  47. I will always remember Jack’s enthusiasm and love for his job, and for our industry. He was an excellent teacher, and I learned a lot from him over our career together at Ecke Ranch. For all of this, I am grateful for our time together. You will be missed!

  48. Jack was kind of an industry legend and a mutual friend used to rave to me about him. When I got the chance to work with him at Ecke I realized he far exceeded the high opinions I had always heard. He always got a kick out of my nickname (Lou the Jew from LSU), and he loved to joke about it.
    Few ever live up to expectations. Jack was the rarest of people, one who exceeds expectations. Knowing him was a true highlight of my time at Ecke. His knowledge, humor and demeanor IS the stuff og legends!
    All my condolences and prayers for his much loved family.

  49. Jack was great and loved his family. I remember him talking about taking the train to Disneyland with the family during Thanksgiving.

  50. We will always keep Jack in our heart and we will miss forever.
    There are no enough beauty words to describe Jack, that I just can say see you.
    Warm regards from his friend in Barcelona (Spain).
    Ignasi Calvo
    Grup Roig

  51. Jack has been an inspiration for many, for me as well. Whenever I had questions concerning Poinsettias I contacted him and he responded in no time no matter where he was. As a young grower I always wanted to meet him. I met him many times and in recent years I even had the pleasure to give talks with him. I learned a lot from Jack. Our industry and especially Poinsettias lost one of their biggest supporters and fans. I will miss his smiles and positive energy. Thank you Jack, for everything.

  52. To Beth and Stephen, Your dad was and will always be my very best friend. We met in the industry and lived 3000 miles apart but there was always a bond. He let me drive his spyder on the beach and at speeds on the streets that were crazy. When my wife died in 2001 he was a strong support and wrote a most beautiful letter to my kids for their first mother’s day without her. You are the same ages as my kidlets in fact, Beth, my son almost went to Stubenville and you would have been classmates. I am in tears now and cannot see the screen. Some day, like your dad did for us I will tell you about the wonderful man he was and will always be. Be well as you are already blessed and may God and his memory comfort you.

  53. Jack told me that as a single man he went into the mountains and took his dog as a companion. I told him that his ability to be handle solitary situations was the reason he could travel easily by himself and so give to many. Jack was a strong man.
    We were blessed to see Jack in Australia before his passing. Our family enjoyed a wonderful Saturday afternoon and evening with him where he delighted in telling us stories of his own family. He shared his happy experiences with Cheryl, and was so proud of Stehpen and Bethany. We will be forever glad that we knew Jack Williams.

  54. As a young grower one of my more memorable highlights was the opportunity I had to have dinner with him while visiting the Ecke Ranch on business several years ago. To be able to sit down with an icon of the industry and have a casual conversation about all of the unique cuisine he had eaten over his years of traveling the world was a dream. We will all miss him in our own ways!

  55. Jack will be missed in the industry. He was quite a leader….insightful, warm, and outreaching. It is our loss, as an industry, as well as a great loss to the close friends and family, and I wish to express my sympathy.

  56. As a classmate of Jack’s at Colorado State University during our undergraduate years, I remember his good humor and smile and enthusiasm for all things green. He will be, and is already, sorely missed.

  57. Jack was the best!!! It will be a long time before we see another like him. All of us at Peace Tree will miss him terribly. God Bless, Jack, Rest in Peace.

  58. It is nice to know that my father was loved by so many. Thank you for paying respect to him and all of his accomplishments. May you continue to carry out the vision that he has created.

  59. Jack was so special, His love for his wonderful family,Cheryl, Bethany and Stephen was always a topic of discussion, followed by his love of life, and our industry. Jack will be truly missed by all and what an impact he has made on our industry
    God Bless him and his family,

  60. His family is in shock and ever so sad. We will all miss Jack, his smile, humor, good nature, intelligence, and the fun we always had with him. He was in Creede, CO fishing with Steve, his father, George, brother, Ray and Dana Carroll. He and Cheryl celebrated their 30th annniversary here in Pueblo, and he left us with the very best memories. We love you, Jack. Pattee Williams

  61. We spent a great evening with Jack in Brisbane Australia on the Thursday night before he passed away. Lovely memories, good food and a couple of Aussie red wines but most importantly lots of laughs. Love you Jack, you will be greatly missed around the world. RIP mate! Taken far too soon.

  62. Jack made us smile and filled us with knowledge. He visited every arrow in the photo above except the arrow pointing straight up. Even God needs advice in his garden. We will miss this great person.

  63. Jack was such a big part of a great industry. There is a big void with his passing. Jack’s fun and intellectual demeanor made him standout as a person in our industry I sought out and always looked forward to seeing. Jack was an inspiration to me and many others, I am sure.

  64. Jack,I can still hear your voice and your wonderful laugh. My heart goes out to your family. It was an honor to know you. You will not be forgotten.

  65. Jack,you were one of the best.I can’t believe that your visit in Sept. is going to be your last.We are going to miss you,the industry will not be the same without you.Our deepest sympathies to your family

  66. A great loss, I always look forward and enjoyed Jacks passion for plants and people! My thoughts are with his family. God bless!!

  67. Our hearts are broken for the Williams family. We have been neighbors for over 25 years. Jack’s love of life was contagious. We will miss his happiness and laughter. This earth has suffered a great loss and heaven is rejoicing over their great gain.

  68. As Jack’s CSU classmate, I’ll tell you he never stopped learning after all these years. He truely had a gift for presenting information both verbally and in the written word. Such passion! And that laugh! I’m grateful for his friendship. My deepest sypathies to Cheryl, Stephen and Bethany as well as the rest of his family.

  69. Jack

    it was always a pleasure working with you, and i will miss your wonderful smile and your positve attitude, rest in peace my friend.

  70. Jack was very special to us. Despite his busy schedule he made time to meet and make our granddaughter feel privileged to be recognized by such an important person in his field. Jack was truly a reflection of two wonderful parents and he will be sorely missed. Dick and Gloria Elm. 5823955

  71. My heart aches at his loss. I can only imagine what his family is feeling. I mourn the loss of a good man and a valuable colleague. He was truly a scholar and a gentleman. Peace be with you Jack.

  72. I am yet in disbelief at the sad news of this great loss! I had the opportunity, and pleasure, to work with Jack at PER during the past 8 ½ years. He exuded passion not only for his work but for life in general. I greatly admired his immense knowledge of this industry and his respect and love for all cultures. You are and will continue to be greatly missed, Jack!

  73. All of us at Loblaw (our Garden Team and our partner growers) are truly and deeply shocked and saddened by Jack’s untimely passing. He has been a friend and supporter of our businesses for so many years and a personal friend of so many of us. He always found time to make it up to Canada to visit our growers and to Toronto for our spring media plant launch – all it took was a call, and he’d figure out how to move mountains so that he could be there for us. The garden media have so looked forward to hearing him speak every year.
    I will miss his great intelect, profound knowledge of plants, wonderful sense of humour, great travel stories and infectious laugh. And boy, could he ever make a GREAT cheesecake! Spring Trials will never be the same again.

  74. On behalf of the Members, Officers & the Board of Directors of the South West Region of the American Institute of Floral Designers, our heavy hearts, our caring thoughts and our very special prayers are with the Jack William’s Family at this most difficult time –
    Michael Quesada, AIFD
    SW AIFD REGIONAL PRESIDENT 2010-2011

  75. Jack, you will be sorely missed.
    Can’t remember EVER not seeing you with a smile on your face. The entire industry grieves.

  76. Jack,you were a great husband, great father, great son, and truly great friend. I cannot imagine my life without you in it – you have been my true friend for 20 years and I will miss you terribly. Who will finish my sentences for me? Who can I travel with and laugh with the way we did in the past? Who will know what I am thinking of without having to say a word? Your loss will be felt by our wonderful industry and by all those in it who loved you. May you be safe in your mother’s arms working together on that heavenly garden. You will be with us always, in our hearts, in our minds, and deep in our garden-loving bones.

  77. Jack was extremely helpful during my graduate student years supplying genetics and research guidance. As time passed, a great friend to chat with and share road stories. A great floriculturist has left us and will missed by many. Rest in peace Jack Williams.

  78. All I had to do was walk into the greenhouses at Ecke Ranch during Spring Trials and say I was writing a story for a magazine in Canada, and Jack was there. For more than an hour during one of the busiest times of the year, he took the time to fill me in on the history of the Trials and to tour me around the greenhouse. And he continued to be there for me and many other members of the gardening media to answer our questions, give advice and share his enthusiasm for plants, horticulture and the industry. We are all so fortunate to have worked with him. May you be surrounded by exciting new cultivars, Jack!

  79. When I received the news at Atlanta Hartsfield Intl. Airport, through a voice mail, today Monday, Oct. 19, I could not wait to get home to Puerto Rico to verify that the news was true. He was my best adviser with my poinsettias, helping me grow quality plants each and every season. I learned a lot from him. I constantly keep in contact with him whenever I had any questions or problems .Just two weeks ago I wrote to him with respect to a problem; he never failed me; he was a true motivator, where my opinions, concerns, or comments were appreciated. I have become one of the best producers of this beautiful plant in all of Puerto Rico. To be honest, I felt proud to say that I was a friend of Jack who had so much prestige in my island of Puerto Rico. !Hasta siempe Jack!

  80. Jack was a giant in our industry, but never hesitated to talk with anyone, anytime. His knowledge, passion, vision, and commitment to superior plants and education were something I can only try to achieve. He was a true ambassador for floriculture and I will miss him dearly. My condolences to his family and his friends (aka, everyone that ever met him).

  81. Every so often God graces our earth with an extraordinary person,and that is what Jack was.He always took the time to help me in my tiny little greenhouse in the middle of Kansas,and his help was invaluable!He always had something funny to say,and always returned a call.Even though I never got to personally meet him,I always felt he was a true friend.Because of him I now grow gorgeous Ecke poinsettias.I am deeply saddened and my heart and prayers go out to his family and friends.

  82. Jack was a Friend that helped me to understand the poinsettia “Stella di Natale” Chrystmas Star, and now I try to make the same in my country.
    I’m very sad thinking his Family that he sincerelly loved. Always he spoke about his Family each time we meet.
    Ciao Jack

  83. Jack’s zest for life and love of beauty, his perpetual smile and twinkling eyes, and his helpful, caring, and loving ways made him a true gift from God for all that crossed his path.
    As we thank God for his coming, may we hold all that was his essence close to us and Celebrate his life.

  84. Jack was one of the best. Always friendly, enthusiastic, excited and knowledgeable about his plants. I always looked forward to talking with him at Spring Trials. Rest in peace, Jack. Prayers are going out to you and your family. We will miss you.

  85. Everyone here at Krueger-Maddux is saddened by the loss of such an incredible person. We will miss him greatly. His passion for our industry is an inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

  86. I found this from Jack in an email dated December 18 of 2009. This is the Jack we all knew and will dearly miss.
    “As you say…we are blessed! It is clearly a good reminder to us all this time of year that we live in an incredible place and have families that lift us up….what more can we ask for!”

  87. My goodness how heaven is celebrating and rejoicing to have Jack. How deep is my sense of loss and pain! “My twin of a different mother” and friend. Jack was so much apart of what I love about our industry. He made the “long hours and low pay” when I came back to the industry worth it. Our 20th Annual Poinsettia Celebration is this year. It will be one of the few Jack missed.
    Jack you will live in the hearts of so many. Thanks for being a great father, husband, twin and friend. I love you BIG TIME and am so jealous of heaven today. Hugs!

  88. Like many, I have been deeply moved and saddened with the loss of Jack. We just talked last week and I am still shocked that he is gone. He was a close friend and colleague. Jack and I gave many talks together and we always enjoyed each other’s humor and interaction. More importantly though, I always admired and respected Jack’s knowledge, dedication, and enthusiam for making our floriculture industry better. May he rest in Peace. I will miss him.

  89. I am devastated and deeply saddened by the loss of my very dear friend, creative partner and mentor, Jack. I was privileged to get to work so closely with this creative master class. One of his greatest gifts was making everyone around him better. He has made me a better person and for that I will be eternally grateful. He inspired me and challenged me to be the best that I could be. He truly was a “Jack” of all trades, master of all! There wasn’t anything that Jack couldn’t do or wouldn’t try. He lived an authentic and passionate life. He loved his life, his family and friends and his work. His heart was bigger than anyone’s that I have ever known. He lived his life to the fullest and was a loyal and generous friend. I can’t begin to imagine my life without Jack being in it, but he will live on in my heart always. I love you Jack and I thank you for being my loyal, generous friend and brother. My love and prayers go out to Cheryl, Steven and Bethany.

  90. Jack’s passion for his work and for the industry has been an inspiration to all of us. My husband and I always looked forward to seeing him at the Short Course; his enthusiasm was contagious! He always took time to talk in between classes, no matter how busy he was. May his family and friends find comfort in happy memories of this truly special person.

  91. I had the great opportunity to work with Jack the past four years as our advertising agency, Swanson Russell, worked on the Ecke/Oglevee catalogs with Snow Maestas and Jack on these projects. I’m quite saddened to hear about Jack’s passing and thoroughly enjoyed working with him..it really wasn’t like working with him, it was more like enjoying Jack’s company than work. He will be sorely missed.

  92. I learned how to grow poinsettias 10 years ago from going to seminars with Jack & Harvey Lang. His technical advice saved this novice many times before I committed a fatal error with my crops. I will miss his help and his sense of humor. My heart goes out to his family.

  93. Few are as humble as Jack yet seem to have so much knowledge. No matter what the topic, Jack either had the answer or would guide us to it. If we had a problem, somehow he had a solution. Whether he directly fixed the problem or not, he gave us a positive direction.

  94. I Just can’t really put into words how sad I am to hear of Jack’s passing. He was a man with incredible passion for life who shared that enthusiasm with all whom he met. As I attended my 1st Poinsettia trials, nervous and naive; Jack took me under his wing and taught me so much. I will never forget the respect and encouragement he gave me. God blessed us with you Jack! My heart goes out to your family & Friends. Great Big Hug!

  95. I always looked forward to seeing Jack at OFA meetings and at Short Course. I had the honor of serving on OFA Board and several years of Grower Committees with Jack. We will miss his smiles, laughter and wisdom. I always enjoyed hearing about his travels and his many stories. And whenever I asked him for advice on growing crops, he was always so focused on the question and so sincere with the answers. Jack was genuine. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss you Jack!!

  96. I am very sad with this news. I dont have words to explain my feelings about, i will always have present in my life all the things that he teach me. I will always remember him as an amazing person.RIP JACK .

  97. Jack was a very nice person. He contributed a lot in Chinese poinsettia industry for Ecke genetics and provided great support to share his technology and passion in China with us.

    We enjoyed travelling with him in China, discussing and advising on Poinsettias: Beijing, Shanghai, Canton, Shenyang, Taiyuan, Canton, Kunming, and even inner Mongolia had got his footprints.

    He will remain, with his generosity, friendship and outstanding work, in our memory.

  98. Jack always took my numerous phone calls, listened to my issues and helped me with all that I had which I am thinking was more than the average caller. At one point I was visiting family in Mission Viejo, CA and realized it was not that far away from ECKE and where Jack was. I called him to ask if I could visit and with open arms Jack took time (and probably too much) out of his day to show me and further educate me about what his job was and what ECKE was all about. It was a day that I will never forget because I had one on one with an EXPERT and he didnt care that I was a small grower. He just wanted to help me learn. To his family my prayers are with you in your grieving its not gonna be eay because you had a special person in your life. Be proud he helped me the small grower which I would bet was and would be hard to come by these days. GOD BLESS

  99. Jack was a Centennial H.S. classmate. Chad Stevens advised me of his passing, and of this link. Reading the submissions, what an outpouring of love! A true testament to an outstanding human being. My condolences to Cheryl and the kids, and the entire family at home and at Ecke Ranch. A reminder to the rest of us to let no expression of our caring go unsaid. I always remember Jack with a smile on his face. He had a social conscience, in a time when many of us were consumed with “me”. It was fantastic to hear all his accomplishments and to acknowledge his many friends and family. What a wonderful legacy. Such a bright flame is missed, except that we renew it…. I will never look at a poinsettia the same way again….
    – Rob Fleming, Centennial Class of ’74
    General Counsel, PET International,Inc.;
    (giftofmobility.org)

  100. There are times in our careers, just like in our lives, where we get so wrapped up in the rat race and the day to day that we forget it is people that make great things happen. Jack was such a passionate influence and mentor in my early career in this industry. My respect for him grew every time I had the pleasure of speaking with him. His energy, love and passion for life were contagious and he will be deeply missed. My prayers go out to his family, friends and associates.
    Steve Abruzzo
    Martinez Farms

  101. Amigo Jack, jamás olvidaremos:

    √ Tu Profesionalidad y pasión por el trabajo en esta compleja industria.

    √ Tus conocimientos en Poinsettia, los cuales has ido sembrando por todo el mundo, dejándonos ahí a todos otro gran legado.

    √ Tu afable personalidad y esa buena intención de comunicar conocimientos y recibir información, sobre esas estrellas que con tú ayuda hemos hecho florecer en todo el mundo.

    Este año tus/nuestras estrellas (Poinsettias) están brillando mas que nunca pero esta navidad brillaran mas y mas, esperando que te iluminen allí donde estés. Así lo desean nuestros corazones y así será.

    A Sheryl esposa y sus hijos Beth y Steven, gracias por haberlo compartido con todos nosotros, cultivadores del mundo. Nuestro más sentido pésame.

    Vivirás con nosotros en nuestra memoria, amigo Jack.
    Te recordaremos con tu inolvidable sonrisa y aprovecharemos tu legado creciendo y cultivando las que son tus/nuestras bellas Poinsettias.

    La Coruña España

  102. We are very saddened by the news of Jack’s passing. We knew him to be a friendly and kind person, and our hearts go out to George and Pattee and Jack’s family for their loss.

  103. I will always remember Jack’s enthusiasm and love for his job, and for our industry. He was an excellent teacher, and I learned a lot from him over our career together at Ecke Ranch. For all of this, I am grateful for our time together. You will be missed!

  104. Jack was kind of an industry legend and a mutual friend used to rave to me about him. When I got the chance to work with him at Ecke I realized he far exceeded the high opinions I had always heard. He always got a kick out of my nickname (Lou the Jew from LSU), and he loved to joke about it.
    Few ever live up to expectations. Jack was the rarest of people, one who exceeds expectations. Knowing him was a true highlight of my time at Ecke. His knowledge, humor and demeanor IS the stuff og legends!
    All my condolences and prayers for his much loved family.

  105. Jack was great and loved his family. I remember him talking about taking the train to Disneyland with the family during Thanksgiving.

  106. We will always keep Jack in our heart and we will miss forever.
    There are no enough beauty words to describe Jack, that I just can say see you.
    Warm regards from his friend in Barcelona (Spain).
    Ignasi Calvo
    Grup Roig

  107. Jack has been an inspiration for many, for me as well. Whenever I had questions concerning Poinsettias I contacted him and he responded in no time no matter where he was. As a young grower I always wanted to meet him. I met him many times and in recent years I even had the pleasure to give talks with him. I learned a lot from Jack. Our industry and especially Poinsettias lost one of their biggest supporters and fans. I will miss his smiles and positive energy. Thank you Jack, for everything.

  108. To Beth and Stephen, Your dad was and will always be my very best friend. We met in the industry and lived 3000 miles apart but there was always a bond. He let me drive his spyder on the beach and at speeds on the streets that were crazy. When my wife died in 2001 he was a strong support and wrote a most beautiful letter to my kids for their first mother’s day without her. You are the same ages as my kidlets in fact, Beth, my son almost went to Stubenville and you would have been classmates. I am in tears now and cannot see the screen. Some day, like your dad did for us I will tell you about the wonderful man he was and will always be. Be well as you are already blessed and may God and his memory comfort you.

  109. Jack told me that as a single man he went into the mountains and took his dog as a companion. I told him that his ability to be handle solitary situations was the reason he could travel easily by himself and so give to many. Jack was a strong man.
    We were blessed to see Jack in Australia before his passing. Our family enjoyed a wonderful Saturday afternoon and evening with him where he delighted in telling us stories of his own family. He shared his happy experiences with Cheryl, and was so proud of Stehpen and Bethany. We will be forever glad that we knew Jack Williams.

  110. As a young grower one of my more memorable highlights was the opportunity I had to have dinner with him while visiting the Ecke Ranch on business several years ago. To be able to sit down with an icon of the industry and have a casual conversation about all of the unique cuisine he had eaten over his years of traveling the world was a dream. We will all miss him in our own ways!

  111. Jack will be missed in the industry. He was quite a leader….insightful, warm, and outreaching. It is our loss, as an industry, as well as a great loss to the close friends and family, and I wish to express my sympathy.

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June 14, 2012

2012 California Spring Trials Takeaways

The California Spring Trials are a stimulating way to start the season. Every breeder’s displays are overflowing with new varieties – new cultivars, improved genetics, stunning colors. But growers don’t attend just to see a bunch of pretty, new plants. It’s a business trip, one of the most important you may make all year. You’re there to uncover ideas and solutions that are going to help grow your business. We’re just back from a week traveling up the West Coast, examining and discussing 2012 plant introductions with close to 40 companies. You’ll read a lot about what we discovered in this issue. But here are three overall trends we saw during those stops that you ought to be taking advantage of, or at least taking a long look at, as you begin making your plans for 2013: Vegetables. Edible crops were just about everywhere this year. This category has been […]

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May 23, 2012

Reader’s Choice Award Voting Open – Vote Fo…

Voting is now open in the Annuals category for the Greenhouse Grower Medal Of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award (click here to vote). The Reader’s Choice Award works like this: voting is held in Annuals, Perennials and Best of the Rest categories. The winners from each category then go head to head for the Reader’s Choice Award. Breeders nominated their varieties among introductions not commercially available to growers in North America before January 1, 2012. Nominees in the Annuals category include: Petunia F1 Trilogy SeriesTakii & Co. Ltd. Cool Wave PansiesPanAmerican Seed Zonal Geranium ‘Salmon Frills’Ecke Ranch Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’Ernst Benary Of America ‘Lanai Candy Cane’ verbena Syngenta Flowers Inc. ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ calibrachoa Proven Winners ‘Maestro Deep Red’ Zonal GeraniumEcke Ranch Crackling Fire Begonia boliviensis Suntory Flowers Surfinia Summer Double petunias Suntory Flowers Fuchsia City LightsEcke Ranch WonderFall Blue Picotee Shades Syngenta Flowers Inc. RED FOX Great Balls […]

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