Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quad dedicated

Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quad dedication

Mizzou Botanic Garden board members pose with Pete Millier, his wife, Pam and daughter Anna at left during Mizzou Botanic Garden’s Legacy Oak dedication. Board members and Friends of MUBG sponsored one of the Legacy Oaks, honoring Garden Director Pete Millier.


 “On a walk across the Francis Quad back in 2004, then Mizzou Botanic Garden (MUBG) designer, Joan Stack, asked me what I would do if I had to replace the oaks on the quad,” said MUBG Director Pete Millier, adding that he was quite taken aback by the question.


“I said we would have to convene a group of stakeholders to discuss our options, not thinking that we would actually ever have to do so, at least not during my time as director.”


Millier said the possibility gained traction on Memorial Day 2018 when a large branch fell from one of the Quad’s pin oaks, narrowly missing MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright. By July, five of the declining trees were removed and a group was convened.


Relatively carefree and long-lived white oaks were chosen for replacements. Missouri’s Forrest Keeling Nursery donated several white oak seedlings of five species to MUBG, which were temporarily planted at MU’s South Farm to bulk up.


Last year, the remaining pin oaks were removed and 24 young white oaks — designated Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quad — replaced them, an endeavor that Millier said was the most consequential of his tenure. To support the effort, MUBG offered donors the opportunity to sponsor an oak for a $25,000 gift. Donors’ personal tributes appear on plaques — in perpetuity — at the base of each tree. As of June 2023 only two Legacy Oaks awaited tributes.


“I’m so grateful to all of the donors and everyone who made this happen,” Millier said. “Some trees are sponsored by single donors, some by families and others represent multigenerational alumni sponsors.”


Donna Puleo welcomes donors, board members and others at the dedication

Donna Puleo, president of Friends of the Mizzou Botanic Garden board, at right, talks with Friends Board member Susan Heinsz at the Legacy Oak dedication event. Heinsz sponsored one of the Legacy Oaks in honor of her family. Her sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Paul Klick, at left, joined her at the dedication.

On April 28, in cooperation with MU Advancement, MUBG sponsored a Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quad dedication and donor appreciation event in the Residence on the Quad that included remarks, photo ops for donors with their oaks and a couple of surprise dedications.


MUBG Friend of the Garden Board President Donna Puleo welcomed donors, board members and others.


“Everyone in this room contributed to the Legacy Oak effort — people with a passion for MU and Mizzou Botanic Garden,” she said. “Thanks to all of you and a special thanks to the landscaping services crew who worked hard to make this happen.”


Millier also offered his gratitude to those gathered with special thanks to Wayne Lovelace and Kim Lovelace-Hainsfurther of Forrest Keeling. 


Friends board member Kee Groshong, a retired MU vice chancellor for administrative services and MU history buff, spoke about the importance of the Quad as the heartbeat of the campus and recognized Friends board member Cindy Mustard who essentially grew up on campus as a member of the Conley family. She remembers the pin oak planting.


Groshong played an essential role in raising the initial funding that launched MUBG. He shared the document signed by Chancellor Richard Wallace in 1999 designating MU a botanic garden.


Following remarks, attendees convened on the Quad for photos and two surprise dedications.


MUBG surprised the Lovelace family by dedicating one of the Jillian oaks in their honor

MUBG Director Pete Millier, far left, poses with Wayne Lovelace, Kim Lovelace Hainsfurther and Mitch Hainsfurther by the plaque the Legacy Oak dedicated in their honor. The Lovelaces, of Forrest Keeling Nursery, generously donated the Legacy Oaks to the University. The dedication was a surprise.

Four of the oaks on the Quad are Quercus x ‘Jillian Ann Young’, named in honor of Lovelace-Hainsfurther’s daughter, Jillian, who at age 17 was killed in a car accident. The hybrid oak, determined to be a three-way cross, was used in a class project by Jillian and her brother. The tree proved to be so attractive, it was added to Forrest Keeling’s inventory.


MUBG surprised the Lovelace family by dedicating one of the Jillian oaks in their honor. The plaque at the base of the tree reads, “This tree is in honor of Wayne Lovelace, Kim Hainsfurther and Forest Keeling Nursery for their unwavering support in furtherance of the mission of Mizzou Botanic Garden and he University of Missouri.”


“Jillian’s lifelong dream was to go to school here,” Lovelace-Hainsfurther said after thanking MUBG and the campus. “To have this tree planted in her memory — nothing could be more meaningful.


“There are two angel Tigers looking over us today,” she added in reference to husband Mitch's son Dusty, who also lost his life in an automobile accident. The Lovelace-Hainsfurther family has dedicated Tribute Benches in the Woodland Garden to Jillian and Dusty. 


Unbeknownst to their fearless leader, another of the Jillian Oaks was funded by the Friends of the Mizzou Botanic Garden in honor of Millier

MUBG Director Pete Millier with Wayne Lovelace of Forrest Keeling Nursery.

Unbeknownst to their fearless leader, another of the Jillian Oaks was funded by the Friends of the Mizzou Botanic Garden in honor of Millier. Its plaque reads, “Friends of the Mizzou Botanic Garden under the leadership of Pete Millier, Director of Landscape Services and Mizzou Botanic Garden.”


“I was very touched at seeing my name on the plaque,’ Millier said. “I’m flattered and grateful for the recognition. It’s been an honor to work with all of the people who have served on the Friends board and care so deeply for Mizzou Botanic Garden.”