Retired physicist Thomas Flory (Grad Arts & Sciences ’71) grew up around scientists. He spent his early years exploring UVA’s Blandy Experimental Farm, where his father, Walter S. Flory Jr., was professor of experimental horticulture, as well as vice director and manager from 1947 to 1963.
This arrangement suited Flory and his inquisitive nature. “My mother used to say I had too much curiosity,” Flory said. “Blandy was a wonderful place to play and explore. I knew every nook and cranny of its 700 acres.”
Since there weren’t many other children around, he came to regard his father’s graduate students as older siblings. Decades later he’s still in contact with some of those students.
STAYING TRUE TO HIS ROOTS
Flory’s father, a renowned botanist, was the first Blandy Fellow and Ph.D., as well as the first curator of the State Arboretum of Virginia.
“I wanted to do something worthwhile, and do it while I am still around to enjoy it.”
Flory decided the best way to memorialize his father and support Blandy is to establish an endowment in his name. Making plans through his estate, he will create the Thomas R. Flory in Honor of Walter S. Flory Jr. Endowment for Blandy.
Flory is also fulfilling a five-year pledge to begin funding the endowment during his lifetime. The fund will support the salary and scholarly pursuits of the arboretum curator, who will be known as the Walter S. Flory Jr. Professor of Environmental Sciences.
THE GREENEST INTENTIONS
“It came down to what do I want to do with my money?” said Flory.
After consulting with UVA and Blandy gift planning staff, Flory worked out a blended gift, one that allows him to experience the deep satisfaction of memorializing his well-loved father by supporting his father’s work in perpetuity and support those who are building on those efforts.
“I decided on a few places I felt most comfortable giving my money to. I wanted to do something worthwhile, and do it while I am still around to enjoy it.”
Flory says he visits Blandy Farm three to four times a year. Each May, the Walter Flory Memorial Iris Collection at the Arboretum is in full bloom, featuring more than 80 award winning iris donated by the American Iris Society. Flory enjoys the natural landscape and is also pleased with the way things are running. “I still consider Blandy to be home.”