A floral designer known for her warmth, talent and passion received the floral industry’s highest honor posthumously last week, when she was inducted into the Society of American Florists’ Floriculture Hall of Fame. Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, was honored Sept. 15 during SAF Palm Springs 2018 for her lifelong dedication to the industry. Her daughter, Cyndi, and son, Bruce, accepted the award on her behalf.
At the same ceremony, former SAF CEO Peter Moran also was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Moran joined SAF in 1985 and became SAF’s executive vice president and CEO in 1991. He earned a reputation for visionary, strategic thinking before retiring last year from his position.
About Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford, AAF, AIFD, PFCI
Bobbi Ecker-Blatchford was one-in-a-million in the minds of her friends and floral industry family. That’s for good reason: Ecker-Blatchford dedicated her life to the floral industry.
“Bobbi meant the world to everyone she came in contact with,” said Rodney P. Crittenden, CEO and executive vice president of the Michigan Floral Association. “I have been blessed to have had her part of my life for over 30 years. I will miss our talks on flowers, marketing, politics, people, children, love and life. She was truly a special lady.”
As a young girl, she worked in her family’s floral and greenhouse operation in Waverly, Iowa. She went on to start her own company, The Flora Pros, in Chicago. During her 60-plus-year career, she became a noted speaker, commentator, award-winning floral designer and a consultant to manufacturers, growers and distributors in the U.S., Canada and South America. She was recognized and honored by many industry groups, including the American Institute of Floral Designers, International Floral Expo and the Michigan Floral Association, which inducted her into its prestigious Hall of Fame in 2012. The Society of American Florists recognized her with its 1997 Tommy Bright Award. In 2010, United Flowers, a division of Preesman, named a rose, ‘High & Icon — Bobbi Ecker’, in her honor.
As a designer and consultant, Ecker-Blatchford constantly looked for new ways to improve florists’ lives and to bring new products and ideas to consumers. For 15 years, she worked with FernTrust, a co-op made up of 13 family farms, in Seville, Florida.
One of her signature contributions include the development of the company’s Kids’ Club and Fabulous Foliage bouquet lines, a series of pre-bunched foliage that helped streamline the work of floral designers while introducing consumers to a wider variety of foliage. That line remains popular for FernTrust — and in a year where ‘Greenery’ is the Pantone Color of the Year and high-end weddings are featuring lush, foliage-only bouquets — has helped cement Ecker-Blatchford’s as a true visionary.
Still, for her prodigious creative gifts, most industry members remember Ecker-Blatchford’s light-filled spirit and the true joy she took in flowers, life and people of all backgrounds.
“She mentored hundreds, if not thousands, of younger industry members, giving each person the same undivided attention, sending personal, heartfelt notes regularly and offering up her unequaled brand of cheer,” said Carol Caggiano, AIFD, PFCI, while presenting the award on Sept. 15. ‘”Great things are happening,’ she was known to say. The statement can still make those who loved her most smile.”
At the ceremony, Ecker-Blatchford’s son, Bruce, shared memories of his mother that highlighted her warmth and her resiliency. Once, for instance, Ecker-Blatchford gamely led a workshop for florists while dressed in a makeshift toga, fashioned from a hotel bed sheet, after her luggage was lost. And, in the final days of her fight with cancer, she redistributed many of the floral designs she received throughout the hospital, sharing those gifts with other patients.
“All her life she brought flowers to the masses,” Bruce said. “That’s where she thought they belonged.”
Ecker-Blatchford is survived by Cyndi and Cyndi’s husband, Lyman Campbell and Bruce and his wife, Kim Folkers. Her husband, Joe Blatchford, died in 2015.
About Peter Moran
Peter Moran joined SAF in 1985 and became SAF’s executive vice president and CEO in 1991. During the next 26 years, he oversaw several significant changes at the association, including the implementation of a strategic plan that shifted SAF from a segment-driven organization to one guided by its key objectives of providing government advocacy, business guidance and consumer marketing.
Moran also led several efforts to put flowers in the consumer spotlight, including his oversight of SAF’s involvement in coordinating the floral décor for four presidential inaugurations.
More recently, Moran led the SAF board in leveraging the association’s headquarters, which the industry purchased in 1983, for the benefit and future of the association: In April 2016 SAF sold the building and purchased more cost-efficient space less than 2 miles away in Alexandria.
“Peter made an indelible mark on our association, from his early years executing the new strategic plan and governance structure to our recent building project, where he led our board in leveraging a key association asset into something the industry can benefit from for many years,” said SAF Chairman Martin Meskers, AAF, of Oregon Flowers, Inc., in Aurora, Oregon.
In presenting the award on Sept. 15, former SAF President Bob Williams, AAF, PFCI, said the many friendships Moran forged during his long tenure have become a testament to how committed he has been to the industry. He also praised Moran, who worked alongside 14 SAF presidents over the course of his career, as a methodical and “big picture” thinker, one whose temperament and intellect became key to the success of SAF and the industry.
“Peter’s broad outlook helped SAF each time it faced a new challenge,” Williams said. “Peter always had the longest view in the room. Not the only view, but the longest.”
For his part, Moran was taken aback by the surprise announcement. “I’m very humbled by and very grateful for this recognition,” he said, adding his thanks to SAF volunteer leaders and the association’s staff. “I have a passion for the industry and all of you in the industry.
Couldn’t make it to convention? You can see the full awards presentation on SAF’s Facebook page. (Hall of Fame presentations start at around the 17-minute mark).
Mary Westbrook is editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.