Perspectives Online

New endowment benefits horticulture students

(Standing from left) Ken Esbenshade, Julia Kornegay, Ken Sigmon of University Advancement and Johnny Wynne join Rose Phillips (front).
Photo byBecky Kirkland

Friends, neighbors, former colleagues and even a bowling partner gathered in August to pay tribute to Rose Phillips and celebrate a new endowment she recently established in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Rose and Ed Phillips Horticulture Scholarship Endowment will provide support for an annual need- or merit-based scholarship for a deserving student. It will be maintained by the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc.

Rose Phillips, who has been nationally recognized by the floral industry for her accomplishments in floral design, taught horticulture seminars at N.C. State on topics ranging from design to business management. She says that the endowment is intended to support future horticulturists, as well as to honor her late husband, Ed.

Rose Phillips at the signing ceremony.
Photo Becky Kirkland
“Our students are very passionate about plants, landscape design and plant sciences, making us one of the top five programs in the country,” said Dr. Julia Kornegay, head of the Department of Horticultural Science, at the endowment-signing event. “This endowment will help us attract new students and help them make a reality of their career choices in horticulture.”

Added Dr. Ken Esbenshade, associate dean and director of Academic Programs in the College, “Some students have trouble making ends meet, and this gift will impact students who otherwise would not be able to study at N.C. State University.”

Dean Johnny Wynne, who presided over the ceremony, expressed his gratitude to Phillips on behalf of the College, noting that this new endowment “would benefit generations of students to come.”

In addition to lecturing at N.C. State, Phillips also taught at Johnston County Community College, conducted demonstrations at the N.C. State Fair’s Horticultural Show and operated a successful floral business. She has won a number of awards for her work and has arranged flowers for two Presidential inaugural balls.

Her husband, Ed, served in the U.S. Navy, receiving personal letters of commendation, various campaign ribbons and the Bronze Star. He worked for the American Can Co. for 37 years, where he met Rose. The two were actively involved in the floral industry, most notably as members of the Academy of Florists. Ed passed away in 1996 at the age of 81.

The endowment-signing celebration also happened to fall on Phillips’ 76th birthday, which, she said, was a fitting tribute to her husband.

“When my husband was dying, he told me that every year for my birthday, I was to buy something special for myself from him,” Phillips said. “The first year, it was a new faucet; the second year, I bought a garage door opener; then it was a mailbox, and so on. Today, I know he’s looking down on us, saying, ‘Princess, I think you finally got it right.’”

After more reminiscences and a slew of photos, Phillips cut into her birthday cake, which was covered in – what else? — a cascade of pink roses.

—Suzanne Stanard