Just received a note from Horne Creek Farm of the passing of C. Lee Calhoun from cancer; he died peacefully at his home in Pittsboro, North Carolina this morning. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for being able to meet him and see his work of saving many Old Southern Apples. He was a true Southern Gentleman, gracious to all.
We just lost Nick Botner on 2/13/20 and now Lee Calhoun, in the same month. What the losses!!!
Although I did not have diect contact with these two great men, I’ve been aware of their contributions and greatly admired and respected them and their work. May they rest in peace.
I tried unsuccessfully to search up an obituary about Lee, I hope someone else can find one.
I never met the man, but have read some of his writing, including a personal note he sent me several years back that sits in my drawer. It was regarding an article I wrote that is posted in pruning guides on this forum. Such a generous gesture by the man to take the time to do that.
Both Nick Botner and Lee Calhoun did future generations a big favor by insuring that their collections were safely housed in preservation orchards during their lifetimes.
A few years ago I asked Lee to recommend old Southern apples that might resist fireblight. He wrote back (letter, never email) that blight had broken his heart, decimated his orchard. He said his only suggestion was to try varieties that were natural slow growers. He named some very obscure old varieties.
We had a CRFG member here in Riverside named Chuck Estep who proportedly had 1,000 varieties of apples grafted onto multiple frankentrees, and he passed without any record of the performance, and the trees all were dead from neglect by the time someone was able to check on them. Another member, Frank James, had many varieties of apple, but too passed away with no records. I share Hambone’s gratitude that both Lee and Nick saw that their collections were documented and preserved. They saved many people a lifetime of work.
Another sad day… His legacy will live on and that is something to be said! RIP Mr. Calhoun!
Very sad to heard about Mr. Calhoun’s passing. I have enjoyed his Old Southern Apples book so very much. I have used it as my main resource since I started my orchard. I did talk to him once. A very nice gentleman. May he R.I.P. and my condolences to his family.
Even though a Northerner, I appreciated Lee Calhoun’s work. I’ve selected a few Southern apples with late blooming qualities based on his descriptions and David Vernon’s advice. Black Twig and Kinnaird’s have done fine here in the Finger Lakes. Still waiting on Virginia Beauty to fruit.
Nice tribute from Eliza.
Eliza’s tribute is beautifully written, a very interesting read.
When I mentioned the positive comments in the new southern apple book sbout Century Farm Orchsrd, Dave suggested that I bring my book when I picked up my trees in November (we drove from Virginia) Dave said that Lee Calhoun was visiting, and he might be able to sign it for me. That day I picked up my trees and walked around for a while, to see if he was feeling up to coming outside. He didn’t come out of the house and they suggested I go in. He was eating lunch and they were careful not to interrupt him. It was clear how much that those folks who were there with him respected, even revered Lee. He motioned me over and began to ask me questions about my orchard and my plans. We talked for a good while and then he autographed my copy. It was a great joy to meet him and have him discuss my plans with such a kind manner and interest. Sometimes I hold back from doing things thst take extra effort or that others might not understand are important.
I’m so glad this was not one of those times.
I didn’t know about Mr. Calhoun or his book until just a few months ago. I found his book at our local library, and along with some of the great advice of others here, it really opened the world of Southern apples to me and encouraged me to delve into the possibility of being able to grow apples in our climate, where very few apples are currently being grown. His book also helped me choose some varieties that I have actually just received in the mail this week and hope to plant this coming week.
I wish that I would have found out about him sooner, and could have met him, since he only lived about an hour and a half away from me. I bet it would have been an amazing conversation getting to talk to him, and he would probably have had some excellent recommendations for apples in our area.
I really enjoyed his book, especially the part on the detailed history of apples in the South and how they were grown, stored, and processed back before modern conveniences such as refrigeration. The detailed descriptions of the different varieties of apples were also very beneficial in describing many of the different characteristics, like ripening time, flavor, and other interesting facts.
You will be missed Mr. Calhoun, thank you for all you did to preserve such a rich history of apples so that they can continue to be grown by future generations!
Lee Calhoun was a big fan of Red Royal Limbertwig, among others. And as the tribute says, Magnum Bonum was dear to his heart.
Lee’s favorite eating apple was Black Twig.
I never met either man but it was very hard for me when I found out news of the passing of Nick Botner on Friday and of Lee Calhoun on Saturday They were great men, giants. Both Lee Calhoun and Nick Botner remain inspirations. For those of us that appreciate, collect, grow, and hunt for old apples this has been a loss keenly felt.
Both men did a great job of finding and preserving old apple varieties that possibly could have been lost forever. May they both R.I.P. and be remembered for a very, very long time.
I loved Calhoun’s book about GOod old southern apples. He was very helpful to many, many orchardists. It is said to see these two men pass. I guess we have to pick up the slack for the next generations.
Black Twig is one of the southern apples we took a chance on up here in the Finger Lakes. It was a favorite apple of a friend from Pennsylvania, so I tried it for her, not C. Lee. We’ve have success with it so far. It took four years for first fruiting, but have had two bountiful harvests of large, healthy, nicely tart apples, with one shy year in between. Not surprised it was C. Lee’s favorite.
When does the Black Twig ripen for you there in the Finger Lakes area? Do you have to let them ripen inside for some weeks to be useful?
I have picked them in the last week of October and waited until at least Thanksgiving for fresh eating. Sooner for use in apple crisp. Unfortunately, that is after our farmers market has ended, so it doesn’t make us much or any money
— but that’s not why I grow apples.
I also prefer the Red Royal Limbertwig, Lee lived in Chatham County, NC. My mother’s people are from there and were among the first settlers to arrive there. They settled around High Falls on Deep River. The climate there is pretty much the same as it is here in upstate South Carolina. So what grew and performed well for Lee usually did well for me.