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Donor Spotlight: Don Crosby

Photo of Don Crosby and his daughter Erica
Don Crosby and his daughter, Erica, planting the Hummingbird GATEway Garden.

by Suzanne Ullensvang, Resource Development Manager

“Striking!” That’s the word Don Crosby uses to describe the changes he’s seen in the Arboretum during his almost 60 years of involvement as a volunteer, donor, and advocate. When Don and his wife Nancy arrived in Davis in 1961 for Don’s appointment as faculty leader of a new department, they were immediately drawn to the Arboretum by their shared love of plants. Both played key roles in nurturing the growth of the gardens, programs and people of the Arboretum over decades. 

Nancy was a driving force be-hind the founding and growth of the Arboretum plant sales hosted by the Friends. From the humble beginnings of sell-ing iris corms and collecting cash in a cigar box, Nancy’s in-spirational leadership helped the plant sales blossom to become major regional educa-tion events and a fundraising success for the Friends. Don, likewise, helped to guide and grow the Friends support group, serving as President of the Friends board from 1996-2000. During his tenure, he planned monthly education programs to help attract and engage a growing member-ship. 

Don and Nancy’s legacy of support continues on today. Following Nancy’s passing in 2016, Don chose to honor their shared passion for the Arboretum and Public Garden by creating a new endowment: The Nancy and Don Crosby Learning by Lead-ing™ Endowment. Their named endowment contributes criti-cal ongoing funding to help support students and student-led programs in the Arboretum and Public Garden. 

Don and his daughter, Erica, continue to be frequent visitors to the Arboretum and Public Garden. You can often find them enjoying the view from a bench dedicated in Don’s honor in the Humming-bird GATEway Garden near the Arboretum Teaching Nurs-ery. The garden is one of the newer gardens in the Arbore-tum; the design and planting of the garden were led by Learning by Leading™ student interns, just like the ones that Don and Nancy’s Endowment is now helping to fund. 

Don summed up his years of affiliation by saying, “It’s been extremely satisfying to see the Friends organization develop through the work of so many loyal volunteers and to be a part of creating this wonderful place that the Arboretum and Public Garden is today.” 

On behalf of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, thank you, Don, to you and Nancy for your amazing contributions.

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