This article was written as a tribute to Dr. Deming, a founding father of the NNGA, shortly after his death. It tells us much about the work and dedication of those who founded the NNGA.
Dr. W.C. Deming
by John Davidson
On November 17, 1910, twelve dreamers met in the Botanical Museum, Bronx Park, New York City, to form an organization of nut growers in the north. It was largely an organizational meeting. No papers were read, but some solid foundations were laid. Dr. W.C. Deming served as temporary chairman of the meeting and, fortunately for the cause, was then elected as the new body's Secretary-Treasurer, an office which has always called for executive ability and untiring industry.
This election paid off. At the second meeting, held at the New York State College of Agriculture, in Ithaca, it appeared that the new Secretary had communicated with a large number of leading nurserymen, with national and State horticulturists and with others. It was reported at this meeting that only two nurserymen had accepted the invitation to attend. "So", reported Secretary Deming, "evidently the others do not think the northern nut grower is one whose acquaintance is worth cultivating. We hope to convince them to the contrary."
This was done. At the second meeting, the Association could count sixty members. Professor John Craig, of Cornell, in noting this growth, said, "Dr. Deming has not merely performed the routine duties of the secretary, but he has studied the case and has presented a good many facts not apparent on the surface. It seems to me that this augurs well." The augury proved prophetic. The Association continued to grow. But without this first intelligent, persistent effort upon the part of Dr. Deming, it could hardly have survived.
This small bit of history is illustrative of the whole life of Dr. Deming. His deep interest in the purposes and hopes of our Association has never ceased. Upon his own ground he planted and budded and grafted many nut trees, and has given away the fruits of his labors with a prodigal good well. Deming's Burnham pecan and the Deming Purple black walnut are the only introductions, so far as this writer knows, which bear his name.
Again, some thirty years after the first meeting mentioned above, Dr. Deming thought up and carried through another project which makes the Association repeatedly his debtor, an Index of the first thirty volumes of the Association's Annual Reports. It is a work which saves the conscientious worker in northern nut culture hours and hours of labor.
And now our Dean, the last of the founding fathers, has left us for the Elysian Fields. His gentle, kindly face will be sadly missed by those who knew him, but he lives on in every tree whose planting his labors inspired and in every mind which has been, even unconsciously, his heir.
A letter from Miss Charlotte Deming, a sister, assures us, somewhat touchingly, but happily, of this fact:
"My brother's heart was with and in the work of the Association. He was happy to know of its expansion into such a wide-spread organization, and very proud of having been made its Dean."
Dr. Deming lived a full life. He was a physician of distinction, a graduate of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and was retired from the army after World War I with the rank of Major. After graduation from Columbia, he served his internship in a New York hospital, then on the medical staff of the State Immigrant Hospital, Ward's Island. He began private practice in Westchester County, New York and, later, for many years, served as examining physician with the Veterans' Administration in Hartford, Connecticut.