Wilfred passed away in March of 2007, following a severe stroke 2 months earlier. He was a special person and a wonderful father, with a wicked sense of humor and very kind nature. He always had a garden of some sort in our various houses through the years. Here is one below, when I was probably around 7 years old. (pay no attention to the really bad clothes..my brother Kent is wearing the very stylish hat).
After my dad passed away, Sue found his seed collection while going through their basement. One of the varieties he saved was named "Big Willy"; I suspect it was a variety such as Beefsteak that he decided to name, for whatever reason, after himself. I managed to get a seedling to germinate last year and really liked it, and some of my tomato seedling customers are growing it this year.
I named a tomato from the Dwarf tomato breeding project after him; Dwarf Wild Fred. It is a big purple tomato, like Cherokee Purple (one of his favorites), but on a nice short plant. Why Wild Fred? Some years ago, while he was the church sexton, they misspelled his name in the Sunday program, converting Wilfred into "WildFred". He was really tickled about it and couldn't wait to tell me about that particular bit of accidental humor. It seemed like a fitting name to use to honor him with his very own tomato variety.
So, dad, on your birthday, know that your wife, Phyllis (currently living in Assisted Living in Florida), and your two sons and their wives - as well as your granddaughters Sara, Caitlin, Olivia and Devin - all miss you very much. I can honestly say that Wilfred is always gardening along with me; we have some good chats as we discuss my tomato projects.
Thanks, Dad and Happy Birthday!