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FVOS Presidential History

1. 1978 & 79 Rudy Harfman – two years - (Now lives near Oliver)
2. 1980 & 81 Doug McKinnon- two years - (Deceased)
3. 1982 & 83 Kay Smith – two years - (Deceased)
4. 1984 Betty Bertiaume – one year
5. 1985 Peter Holmes – one year
6. 1986 & 87 Russ Volker – one and half years (Mike Gabrielson VP completed year two)
7. 1988 Mike Gabrielson – one year
8. 1989 & 90 Lynne Cassidy – two years
9. 1991 Jan Jenkins – one year
10. 1992 Bob Sutton – Zero (never seen again-Ollie Grams VP completed entire term)
11. 1993 Don Mackinnon – one year
12. 1994 Helen Press – one year
13. 1995 & 96 Alan Cadenhead – two years
14. 1997 & 98 Lynne Cassidy – two years
15. 1999 & 00 Dean Mulyk – two years
16. 2001 & 02 Janice Good – two years
17. 2003 & 04 Merv Lutes – two years
18. 2005 & 06 Merv Lutes – two years (Departure from the constitution for the better good)
19. 2007 & 08 Dianne Gillis – two years
20. 2009 Chris Ostenstad – two meetings (term completed by Merv Lutes and Dianne Gillis)

21. 2010, 2011, 2012 Abu Salleh - tree years

22. 2013, 2014 Dianne Gillis - two years

23. 2015 to 2018 Yolanda Breck - tree years

* Special thanks to Russ Volker for the Historical Records of the FVOS Past Presidents


The First Meeting

The first meeting was in September 1978 at Tynehead Community Hall and was organized by Rudy Harfman. In 1980, the FVOS received a certificate of Affiliation.

Our first founding member is Betty Berthiaume. Betty is a native of BC who retired from her job as cook at Essondale in 1984. Her very first orchid was a phalaenopsis that she got from a florist in Kitsilano and she promptly killed it!

Betty built her first greenhouse in 1975 and a second one in 1986. She has held most positions in the Society including President and Show Chairperson. In 1985, Betty was accepted as a student AOS judge and in 1991 became an accredited judge which she is still actively involved in today.

Russ Volker also has been a librarian and President of the FVOS and probably is most fondly remember for his “famous newsletters”. Russ joined the Canadian Navy in 1948 and served his country for 30 years. He became interested in orchids in 1977 and is also a founding member.  Russ is an AOS accredited judge as well and with Betty is responsible for getting our own judging centre here.  Betty and Russ went into business together in 1985 forming Valley Orchid Partners. We couldn’t manage without Russ and his invaluable Show Table critique!

Doug and Helen McKinnon drove for many years from Chilliwack to Vancouver for the monthly VOS meetings. They were very happy to become founding members here in Langley. Doug was a past president. In 1990, Doug and Helen went on vacation to the Cook Islands leaving their 2000 orchids which they had collected from all over the world. They had a very adequate automatic hot water heated greenhouse. While they were lounging on the beach, a severe storm hit Chilliwack dropping temperatures to below zero and dropping a tree across their distribution lines. There was no power for 37 hours. They came home to 2000 corpses and a burst hot water system. In 1994, Doug organized the Mount Cheam Society.

Bill Gillespie was born in Prince George. Soon after the family was summoned back to Chilliwack to run the family farm after the death of his uncle. He did not enjoy milking cows so he got a job after the war as a gardener for the CFB in Chilliwack where he worked for 36 years. He went on a month tour to South America in 1972 and met some members of the AOS there. He retired to Oliver and continued to grow orchids until he passed away in 2001.

Diana Burritt was born in New Westminster. She married at the age of 20 and moved to Barnston Island where she lived for 20 years before settling in Surrey. She became interested in orchids in 1972. In 1978, Diana along with her daughter Marilyn travelled to Bangkok for the International Orchid Conference. In 1982, she became a student judge and in 1989 became an accredited AOS judge. She has been an active member of the Vancouver Orchid Society, the Mount Baker Orchid Society and the Fraser Valley Orchid Society. Diana passed away in early 2010.

Marilyn was born at Royal Columbian Hospital-the same hospital where her mother Diana was born. She joined the Air Force after graduation and served for three years which ended her tour in France before returning home to begin her working career. She loves travelling and has been all over the world and attended several World Orchid Conferences. She also collects orchid pins and has a collection of over 600 pins!

Sheila Kirk started growing orchids in the 70s. Her then husband introduced her to Rudy Harman who also had an interest in orchids. Together they went into Vancouver to attend the meetings but, felt that the people were  cliquey and did not like to share their knowledge readily. One day, they decided to start a group up in the valley. If Rudy  could find some speakers, Sheila would find a hall or school to meet and one that was free as there was no money yet. The first meeting was in someone’s backyard and from there they went to Tynehead in Surrey. Sheila has been a member for 30 years now in the Fraser Valley Orchid Society.

Rudy Harman was the first Fraser Valley Orchid Society president. He moved into the interior and we lost touch with him and his wife Lynn.

2018 Executives

President – Yolanda Breck

Past President – Dianne Gillis

Vice President –

Secretary – Karin Romilly

Treasurer – Heather Berry

Membership – Wendy Kuczynski

Library – Sandy Harrison, Anne Tait

Social Director – Anne McDonald

Newsletter Set-up – Rebecca Lowry


2018 Directors

Lecent Corbin-King

Wendy Kuczynski

Charles McCullough

Ellen Hopcraft

Ingrid Poelstra

Frances Raphael

Bev Hansen

Rebecca Lowry

Melissa Harder


2018 Show Chair

Frances Raphael

AOS Photographers

Judith E. Higham

Ed Higham

Our rich past has cultivated our future.


Interesting FVOS Facts:

1979 – The society put in an order to India but, it ended up in Scotland. The Scotsman who received the order liked the selection so much that he kept it for himself but, placed another duplicate order for the Fraser Valley Orchid Society-it eventually arrived.

1979 – The library was started by Mr. Shaw as the first librarian. There were 37 members at that time and the meetings were held at Anniedale School in Surrey. The Christmas feast was held at the Clover Inn in Cloverdale.

1986 – September – Norman Young rolled in a beautifully constructed storage cabinet for our library. He built and varnished it for us. Thank you so much Norman! At the show in 1986, 645 plants were entered, 19 displays were exhibited, 99 first place ribbons awarded, 92 seconds and 72 third place. There were 16 AOS nominations and three were awarded.

1988 – A trip to Ecuador was organized by Lynne

1990 June – Dr. Carl Withner received the AOS Gold Medal. This award is rarely givien and is the highest and most honourable distinction  for his many years of contributions as a scientist, judge and author.

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