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Obituary Condolences

HUNTER, DONALD 'JERRY' JEROME San Diego's Premier Nurseryman Mr. Hunter was a renowned Nurseryman and business innovator known the world over for his exceptional knowledge of plants and industry leading approach to the Nursery business. Mr. Hunter died September 28, 2012, suddenly and peacefully at the age of 84 surrounded by family and friends. Jerry, as he preferred to be called, attended the University of California Los Angeles, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He served in the Army during the Korean War and was a veteran of many front line combat operations. Jerry was the owner and President of Rancho Soledad Nurseries, Inc. in Rancho Santa Fe, California. He started the business in 1954, and true to its motto, was "always growing". He was a Landscape Architect and received the first ever Landscape Design Contractor license issued by the State of California. His designs are found throughout the San Diego area to include the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Balboa Botanical Gardens, Catamaran/Bahia, Lake San Marcos, and a host of other public and private venues. While he often joked that Rancho Soledad was the "best kept secret in Rancho Santa Fe", he had other locations as well; Mount Soledad in Pacific Beach, a growing grounds Palms of Paradise in Hilo, Hawaii, and the newest location in Mesquite, Nevada. Jerry was on a constant search throughout his long and storied career for new and different plants he could introduce to both American and worldwide markets. He was the first to send Rhapis excelsa palms and Dracaena marginata from Hawaii to the Mainland. He is credited with collecting as well as hybridizing many new plant varieties. He also built the first plant tissue culture laboratory in San Diego which is still in operation today and continues to provide some of these new varieties. He was also the leader in the Xerophytic movement to produce drought tolerant plants. His research and development served to reinforce the nursery's reputation of quality and originality. Jerry could be found daily at Rancho Soledad tending to every detail of the Nursery while riding on his golf cart with his dog 'Bravo' by his side. Horticulture was his passion, his wife of 38 years, Carolyn, was his joy. He is survived by his wife, son Scott, daughters Heather Hunter May and Dawn Hunter Clark, stepson Dean Seeley, stepdaughter Jean-Marie Seeley-Hing, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at Rancho Soledad Nursery located at 18539 Aliso Canyon Road, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens will be greatly appreciated. "In Memory of Jerry Hunter, Founder and President of Rancho Soledad Nurseries, Inc."

Published in U-T San Diego on Oct. 6, 2012
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