Landis Portraits: Peter Rumora

By Nolan Marciniec

I like to talk to plants, espe­cial­ly trees. Peo­ple talk to dogs and cats, and they’ve fig­ured it out. Trees have too,” said Peter Rumora. 

Talk­ing to plants, espe­cial­ly trees, has been inor­di­nate­ly suc­cess­ful for Peter. The mod­est city lot behind his 1754 home in Schenectady’s his­toric Stock­ade dis­trict con­tains about six­ty dif­fer­ent spec­i­mens of conifers – as well as many oth­er delights. He admit­ted that gar­den­ing is in his blood – in my soul” — and has been since he was grow­ing up in a small town in Penn­syl­va­nia. His gar­dens (“my peace of mind”) have fol­lowed him from two homes in Dutchess Coun­ty, to the Albany area, and final­ly to the Stock­ade in 2011

The Arbore­tum has rich­ly ben­e­fit­ed from Peter’s hor­ti­cul­tur­al gift. Hav­ing heard Arbore­tum mem­ber Mar­garet Law men­tion Lan­dis, Peter and his part­ner took a detour to the Arbore­tum en route to the opera at Glim­mer­glass. He met Fred Lape, the Arboretum’s founder, attend­ed his first plant sale – and got hooked,” in those ear­ly days, some­times vol­un­teer­ing sev­er­al days a week. What would I do? Sit home read­ing com­ic books?” he quipped. He has served on the Board of Trustees and the Build­ings and Grounds Com­mit­tee. He is a reg­u­lar at both the spring and fall plant sales, usu­al­ly bring­ing unique plants to be offered for sale. Peter has been a ded­i­cat­ed mem­ber and a vol­un­teer for over thir­ty years.

Peter’s work can been viewed in the conifer and wild­flower gar­dens at Acad­e­my Park, adja­cent to the State Capi­tol, a prod­uct of his work with a com­mit­tee that cel­e­brat­ed the 300th year of Albany’s founding. 

Although he majored in edu­ca­tion in col­lege, teach­ing was not on his long list of careers, a list that includes work­ing for the air­lines and for a plumb­ing sup­ply com­pa­ny in New York City. For most of his life, he worked on the remod­el­ing and build­ing of houses. 

Over the years, he’s wit­nessed many changes at the Arbore­tum. He recalled Fred Lape’s rather prim­i­tive green­house carved into the side of a hill – and how the man’s ambi­tion and deter­mi­na­tion impressed him. He wit­nessed the devel­op­ment of the plant sale into Lan­dis’ sig­na­ture fundrais­er – it was Peter who coined the phrase Pick of the Pots” for the pop­u­lar mem­bers-only pre-sale recep­tion. He remem­bered the con­struc­tion of the Ray­mond Green­house. He not­ed the com­ing and going of many direc­tors. Now, Peter sees a bright future for the Arbore­tum and cred­its Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Fred Breglia for mov­ing beyond mere­ly take a peek at our trees” to embrac­ing a wider sense of mis­sion, includ­ing the var­i­ous arts and edu­ca­tion­al events. 

Changes aside, Peter said that the Arboretum’s set­ting is con­stant. Just that it’s there … un-raped’ coun­try­side”– is rea­son enough for a vis­it. Lan­dis, he said, offers a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to escape … and com­mune with nature.” Besides, he added, there are those plant sales!

And plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to talk to plants.


Fall 2016

Volume 34 , Number 4

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