Society of American Florists Past President Mel Schwanke Dies at 92

Mel-SchwankeMel Schwanke, Past President of the Society of American Florists and a recipient of the SAF Floriculture Hall of Fame Honor, passed away at his home in Fremont, NE, on Dec. 17, 2018, at the age of 92.

Schwanke served as the executive director of the Nebraska Florist Society for more than 50 years and was also the Executive Director of NeMoKan — the Nebraska Missouri and Kansas Florist Association Convention, held annually for many years. He served on numerous committees, including the Retail Florists Council for SAF, and helped to create the American Floral Endowment for research and education in the flower industry.


Mel and Joey, his surviving wife of 70 years, were known throughout the floral industry for many years for their passion and dedication. They were also known as the famous matching couple, having dressed in coordinating outfits at industry events and everyday in Joey’s family business, Greens Greenhouses Inc.

Schwanke served as a Marine in World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart for his service. He is survived by his wife Joey, and children Jo Heinz, Cindy McKown, and J Schwanke, along with four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Ludvigsens Funeral Home in Fremont, NE, is in charge of the services. Visitation will be Thursday Dec. 20.