Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences remembers Bonnie Lee Appleton, retired Virginia Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist, who died Saturday, July 21, 2012, in Norfolk, Va.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1985, Appleton was based at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Virginia Beach until she retired in 2010. She was instrumental in the development of the horticulture department's off-campus graduate degree program. Appleton taught graduate classes and served as major advisor to more than 60 master’s degree students.

Appleton developed an innovative, nationally recognized Extension program focused on the development and delivery of research-based technology on production and management strategies for the nursery, landscape, and arboriculture industries.

“Anyone who met or worked with Bonnie quickly realized what an amazing person she was — always going at 100 miles per hour with multiple projects in the works,” said Laurie Fox, research associate at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center. “She positively impacted so many people — from horticulture students of all ages to colleagues, peers, and green industry professionals. Bonnie’s enthusiasm, creativity, and love of horticulture, especially trees, were obvious.”

In 2006, Appleton was recognized by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with the Certificate of Teaching Excellence for her dedication to teaching and the positive impact her love of horticulture made on students.

Appleton strove each day to offer her students a personalized educational experience. Her extraordinary success as a teacher can be attributed to her vision, ingenuity, and ability to connect with a variety of audiences. 

According to her colleagues, Appleton traveled extensively, enjoyed teaching, and never hesitated to share information in whatever format was appropriate: workshops, classes, presentations, scientific journals, trade and popular press articles, interviews, expert testimony, extension publications, and books.

“She had a passion for horticulture, especially arboriculture, and shared that enthusiasm with all who knew her,” said Pete Schultz, director, Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Appleton received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University.

In accordance with her wishes, there will be no memorial service, and her ashes will be scattered on the Chesapeake Bay. A tree will be planted at the Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center in her memory. Correspondence can be addressed to her parents, Fred and Bobbie Appleton, 100 O’Brien Ct., Suffolk, VA 23434.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to a charity of choice or to the following:

  • Virginia Tech Master Gardener Association Endowed Fund, Virginia Tech Foundation, Virginia Tech, University Development (0336), Attention: Gift Accounting, Blacksburg, VA 24061
  • Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association research fund, care of Executive Director Jeff Miller.
  • Mid-Atlantic Chapter, International Society of Arboriculture, care of Executive Director Nancy Herwig.



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