Paul VanMeter
FUNERAL HOME
Kuhn Funeral Home - West Reading
739 Penn Avenue
West Reading, PA

Paul D. VanMeter, 54, of Wyomissing, died suddenly of natural causes on Thursday, February 6th at the Reading Hospital.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Paul was the son of Clair and Carolyn (Welsh) VanMeter, both deceased.

Paul had a life-long love and near-encyclopedic knowledge of trains, railroads, and their influence in shaping landscapes and communities.

In 1976, Paul skipped his senior year in high school to travel across the country as a crewmember with the Bicentennial American Freedom Train, a traveling exhibition of unique and representative artifacts from the 200 year history of the U.S. He also contributed to the restoration of the historic steam engines that pulled the train.

Paul was an Eagle Scout, and a 1977 graduate of Wyomissing High School. He studied horticulture and nursery management at Pennsylvania State University.

From 1985 to 2007 Paul and his former wife, Christine Gilfillan, operated Flowers by VanMeter, Inc., in Wyomissing and West Reading.

Concurrently, Paul assisted his close friend Wolfgang Oehme with a wide range of landscape projects in the U.S. and in Germany. Paul started Usona Gardens, an independent garden design business, in 1999, and continued designing gardens until the time of his death. Beginning in 2008 he also worked as a design partner in all projects focused on the "New American Garden" with Don Pell, of Donald Pell Gardens in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

An accomplished photographer, painter, and writer; Paul worked in a studio at the Reading Artworks. In 2010 Paul co-founded VIADUCTgreene, a not-for-profit institution engaged in envisioning and promoting a public greenspace along disused tracks of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway's 9th Street and City Branch in Philadelphia. When writing about this project, On the High Line book author Annik La Farge recognized the creative clarity of Paul's vision, referring to him as the "Professor of Place."

Paul was an extraordinarily gifted observer, passionate about the nature of place and equally devoted to enriching the lives of communities through creative landscape planning and design. Paul's knowledge, adventurous spirit, and generosity in sharing his enthusiasms combined to make him a model and mentor to friends and professional peers alike.

High Line landscape designer Piet Oudolf remembers Paul as "a person who always made you think and someone you always learned from." Though his influence lives on in the lives and work of many, this irreplaceably original man will be sorely missed.

Friends and family are organizing a private memorial to be held in March. Donations may be made in Paul's memory to the Friends of the High Line, at 529 W 20th St #8W, New York, NY 10011. www.thehighline.org.

Edward J. Kuhn Funeral Home, Inc., West Reading is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be recorded at www.kuhnfuneralhome.com.

Published by Reading Eagle on Feb. 10, 2014.
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28 Entries
Going to school with Paul and doing projects with him . I always noticed his attention to detail. His love of trains was with him from 6 years old . That's all Paul was interested in talking about. I had always saw Paul as a engineer on a train going from the east coast to the west coast . I am shore Paul is riding the west bound trains as I write this . A very good friend in grade school and high school. over the years running into his mother .We would talk.. she would always tell me stop by and visit Paul. He would love to catch up . But, as always we all are busy with our on lives and things don't always come about . It's a shame That he passed away so young !! Paul, had so much more to give man kind . I am shore God needed a engineer up in heaven driving the heavenly express !! god Bless you Paul. Until I catch up with you in Heaven and we can talk about live ..What our feeling were about how things worked out !1
Thomas Tilden
February 14, 2014
I worked for Paul when I was 19 years old at Flowers by Van Meter. We didn't always see eye to eye and weren't close. Every so often we'd bump into each other over the years and do an impromptu catch up. Last was late december 2010, and he was so proud of me for moving to new york city, he was so excited to tell me about the his work with the highline and plans for philly. We were like old friends, and i was really looking forward to our next catchup. Until then Paul, Peace to you.
Stephanie Arantowicz
February 12, 2014
Hello Chris. I was stunned and saddened to hear the news that Paul had passed on. We'll miss him. Hope your O K. Please accept our condolences and extend them to family and Friends.
John Denick
February 12, 2014
Condolences to chrIs and the family .
February 11, 2014
I remember Paul as a wonderfully inquisitive and optimistically cheerful young high school student who always brought a ray of sunshine with him wherever he went.
I just know that all who knew Paul are sincerely mournful of his way too earlier passing.
Peter Cellucci
February 11, 2014
Paul was a staple supporter of our vibrant community and I will miss his black-framed glasses that saw way more than most.
Hillary Saylor
February 11, 2014
Paul was a dedicated and very hard worker on the American Freedom Train's epic 21 month journey to all 48 states. His love for railroading and nature were always self evident. May he rest in peace. Ross Rowland, Founder, American Freedom Train Foundation, Inc.
February 11, 2014
Paul,
I already miss you on all the future trips we will make to your gardens.
piet oudolf
February 11, 2014
I did not know Paul well but I saw him work very hard on circle project in Wyomisimg. I also knew him to be very intelligent always looking for ways to enhance an area. His work was always innovative .
Karen Priebe
February 10, 2014
Paul, thanks for all the laughs, the late night conversations w/ trying to solve the problems of the world, the great times at Penn State, the infamous road trips, the connection to new friends and your one-of-a-kind friendship. You contributed so much to so many lives. Thank you and much peace in your heart.
rich liberto
February 10, 2014
Even though I didn't know him very well , he never let that stand in the way when I had the chance to talk with him about the park. He was truly a colorful character. He will be missed. My thoughts go out to his family .
Richard Carpenter
February 10, 2014
I did not know you well, but know of your many wonderful works, plans, and dreams from Chris and Mel. May you rest in peace and God Bless.
Roxanne Siracusa
February 10, 2014
Paul and and me worked together on many garden projects over the years his visions trained my eyes to see a new way for landscapes Paul was a man of the world we'll all mis him
Mark Priebe
February 10, 2014
There will be beautiful gardens wherever Paul is.
Melanie MacDonald
February 10, 2014
I first met Paul and Chris in 1987 when I sold cards to them for their store, Flowers by Van Meter. Even in that context I could see that he was a passionate person and a deep thinker. As a resident of Philadelphia I was thrilled to learn of Paul's leadership involvement with the Reading Viaduct project and looked forward to reconnecting with him. I regret that I will not have that opportunity. I would like to extend my condolences to Paul's family and friends on this sad loss.
Eli Nelson
February 10, 2014
Way too soon. Rest in peace Paul.
Karen Masano
February 10, 2014
My heart felt sympathy goes out to Paul's family and friends. We shared so much through our mutual love of gardening. Even if we did not agree on plant selection, we would laugh and have exuberant conversation. He had a wonderful laugh. I have cherished memories and will think of him often, especially when I see Miscanthus blowing in the wind.
Diane Griffith Smith
February 10, 2014
I am extremely sad about the passing of this extremely talented and absolutely unique person. I worked with him for quite a few of my younger years. He was always on his way to something bigger. His spirit and enthusiasm for learning was infective. He knew so much. He will be greatly missed.
Michele Scanlan
February 10, 2014
RIP Paul your contributions in your life will live on through many others you left a wonderful legacy. Prayers to your family
Debra Lewis Hafer
February 10, 2014
God bless paul. !!!
thomas tilden
February 10, 2014
Such a tragic loss of a brilliant person. PVM will be missed by so many.
Allison Sayer
February 10, 2014
Paul was just a wonderous guy! One of the most interesting minds I have ever met....his capacity to take in vast amounts of information and distill it into one or two consise sentences was amazing ....
He was a quirky, funny, creative artistic force ...... And his oblique (sometimes cynical and dark)sense of humor with double and triple entendre was a gift to us all ..... Paul's capacity to think big, to transform vast concepts into reality, for the greater good on this earth will be missed...
Paul , enjoy the flight, you are on your way to magnificence !!!
Michael Rocco
February 10, 2014
Paul recognized the value of abandoned places and saw what they might become. The project in Philadelphia for which he had such a passion will be realized sooner rather than never, thanks to his work and his promotion. My meetings with Paul were at Winedown in 2010 and 2011, and friends and I were scheduled to take his walking tour of the proposed viaductGreene parkway soon. My heart goes out to his family and to his friends, and I will look to his work as an example as I work to help revive parkland in this area.
John Marquette
February 10, 2014
Michael Rocco
February 10, 2014
"For the days of my people will be like the days of a tree, And the work of their hands my chosen ones will enjoy to the full. For the days of my people will be like the days of a tree, And the work of their hands my chosen ones will enjoy to the full." Isaiah 65:22
Sabrina F
February 10, 2014
Thank you for your friendship buddy! You still need to watch over our trees you planted for us at haute chocolate otherwise they will be mulch lol. I will miss feeding you little treats when I had come up with something new.
Zuwiala John
February 10, 2014
Thank you for your friendship buddy! You still need to watch over our trees you planted for us at haute chocolate otherwise they will be mulch lol. I will miss feeding you little treats when I had come up with something new.
Zuwiala John
February 10, 2014
Rest in peace Paul. My condolences to your family and friends.
Rachel Jacobson
February 10, 2014
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