In the fall of 1970, Dr. David Walkington and Dr. Eugene Jones, along with other faculty members and a group of students at Orange State College, later to become California State University, Fullerton, began to discuss the idea of a arboretum to be developed on a parcel of land at the Northern end of the campus. An orange grove which had been part of the Gilman lands was in a serious state of disease known as “quick decline,” leading to almost certain death of the trees, neglected for some years.
Most of the area was, in fact, a field of wild mustard and little hope was held for saving any of the trees. In time, a group of faculty wives led by Teri Jones pitched in to help find community support for future development of the acreage. A group called the Arboretum Committee was formed and to everyone’s surprise and delight won a Disneyland Community Service Award for its environmental efforts. In 1971 the Associated Students of Cal State College began a drive to raise funds for the future project.
Coincidentally, a group of citizens, again led by faculty wives and other interested local women, located an historic house in Fullerton which was slated to be moved or destroyed. Another chapter of this story discusses the process of saving what is now Heritage House, a part of the Arboretum.
University president Dr. L. Donald Shields became involved in the development process assisted by Vice President James Sharp who became the point man from the university. In January of 1972 the Trustees of the California State University system gave approval to the planning of a botanical garden at CSUF and a month later set aside the twenty-six acres for the project.
In early 1972 a community group called the Friends of the Fullerton Arboretum was formed as an outgrowth of the Arboretum Society to pursue the goals of development. In due course the Friends organization was chartered as a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation and granted a license to raise funds for the future development of the Arboretum.
If you like to read more about the Fullerton Arboretum visit http://fullertonarboretum.org/home.php