The Deer Lagoon Grange has named well-known Whidbey Island volunteer Don Lee as its Citizen of the Year 2021.
After retiring from his career as an aerospace engineer, Lee moved to Whidbey Island in 1988 and shared his passion for gardening and agriculture education through his leadership and volunteer activities with Meerkerk Garden, the Master Gardener program and the Island County Water Resources Advisory Board.
The acknowledgement by the Grange isn’t the first time Lee has been recognized.
In 2009, Lee was named Master Gardener of the Year by the Master Gardeners Foundation of Washington State at its annual conference held at the Washington State University campus in Pullman. Ir was the first time the award was given to an Island County resident.
Also, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Meerkerk Garden, a new rhododendron species, “Don’s Blue Star,” was named in his honor. As president of the board of directors for the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens near Greenbank, Lee is also credited with leading efforts to form a local nonprofit organization and negotiating a transfer of control from the Seattle Rhododendron Society of the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens.
Lee was instrumental in establishing an official state license plate featuring a coast rhododendron. Meerkerk Garden receives $28 of the $30 donation. Meerkerk Garden is a 53-acre woodland oasis of trails, numerous species of rhododendrons and other plants located in Greenbank.