Remembering with Fondness and Gratitude: Ray McNeilan

Ray McNeilan
Photo courtesy of Jan McNeilan

It is with sincere sadness we report that Ray McNeilan, OSU Professor of Horticulture and head of the Extension Master Gardener program from 1978 to 1996, died on October 4, 2018.

It is impossible to overstate the impact that Ray had on Oregon’s Master Gardener Program and on home gardeners across Oregon. He taught generations of Master Gardeners, was a gracious colleague to fellow horticulturists, and authored several books and countless Extension fact sheets.

Ray was instrumental helping to establish the Oregon Master Gardeners Association (comprised of individual, county Chapters), as a non-profit 501(c) organization dedicated to raising funds and supporting the Oregon State Master Gardener program.

Upon his retirement, he continued to volunteer his time and expertise to the Master Gardener Program and to the Oregon Master Gardener Association. In honor of his contributions, the Oregon Master Gardener Association funds a scholarship for an OSU Horticulture student, in Dr. McNeilan’s name.

His smile was huge, as was his heart. Together with his wife Jan (who was also an OSU Extension Professional, and the Coordinator of OSU’s Master Gardener Program from 2003 to 2007), the McNeilans helped to establish the Statewide Master Gardener Endowment Fund at OSU, which has been integral to keeping the program strong, to this day.

A giant in the world of horticulture, Ray was humble, generous, and always smiling. His legacy will live on in the many Master Gardeners he trained, the students who study horticulture at OSU via the Ray McNeilan scholarship, and the many colleagues he has supported and encouraged.

The metro-area Master Gardener program remembers Ray with fondness and deepest gratitude, knowing the significant, positive difference that he made to the OSU Master Gardener program, the gardening public and horticulture in Oregon!

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests tax-deductible memorial donations to the program closest to his heart: OSU Master Gardener Program Endowment, OSU Foundation, 850 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333-4015.


Ray and Jan McNeilan
Photo courtesy of Jan McNeilan


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