Richard W. Lighty, Ph.D., retired from the board of trustees recently after 21 years of service, announced William J. Bonenberger 7W9, board chairman.
Lighty was unanimously voted trustee emeritus by his fellow trustees and was presented with a resolution hand-written by a calligrapher and a gift of two Adirondack chairs made by Williamson carpentry students during a special dinner held in his honor.
Bonenberger said, “Doc Lighty is an amazing man that fell in love with Williamson’s mission and committed his time, treasure, and talent to furthering that mission for more than two decades. I’ve personally had the pleasure of serving with Dr. Lighty for more than 16 years. In addition to being a key advisor for our horticulture program, Dr. Lighty has been the chair of Williamson’s Governance Committee since its inception, has served on numerous Presidential Search Committees, and, most recently, the committee that evaluated the feasibility of Williamson accepting grant money. His wisdom, experience, and sage advice to myself and the entire board has been invaluable. Doc Lighty will be sorely missed and Williamson surely owes him a debt of gratitude that we can never repay!”
President Michael J. Rounds said, “Dick’s contributions to the board and to Williamson have been amazing! He is a renowned horticulturist with an international reputation and we have been honored to have had him share his expertise with us through so many years. He has done so much to help us further our mission and, most notably, was instrumental in the development of our horticulture program and then advising, guiding, and assisting in making it what it is today. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all he has done for Williamson. We congratulate him on his retirement from the board and are grateful that he will continue to assist us in his new role as trustee emeritus.”
Lighty was instrumental in the founding of Williamson’s Horticulture, Landscaping, and Turf Management Program which began in 1992 and was a charter member and chair of the Horticulture Advisory Council which developed and guided the program beginning in 1989.
He was a member of the board’s Education, Finance, Personnel, and Search Committees, and served as chair of the Governance Committee.
The board honored Lighty for his service to Williamson and for sharing his tremendous knowledge of horticulture in 2001 with the establishment of the Richard W. Lighty Chair in Horticulture and in 2008 with the Isaiah V. Williamson Award, for exemplifying in his life and work the ideals of Isaiah V. Williamson. In 2007, he was named a Distinguished Honoree by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Philadelphia Chapter.
Lighty retired as the founding director of the Mount Cuba Center for the Study of Piedmont Flora in 1998, established Longwood Gardens’ research programs, and founded the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Garden Administration at the University of Delaware where he also served as an associate professor in the Department of Plant Science.
He is recognized internationally as an authority in the field of horticulture and has served at some of the nation’s most prestigious horticultural centers.
He named and introduced over 30 species and cultivars to American horticulture and explored for plants in Korea, Japan, Central America, Nigeria, and the Eastern North American Piedmont.
He has served on numerous boards, and is currently on the boards of Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance. He has received numerous prestigious medals and awards for his work in horticulture, including from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Horticultural Society, the Garden Club of America, the Perennial Plant Association, and the North American Lily Society.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in horticulture at the Pennsylvania State University, and a master’s degree and doctorate degree in plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University.