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The Passing of Peter Christian and Billie Ruth van der Giessen

06 Mar 2015 9:48 AM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

Peter Christian van der Giessen, December 22, 1924 - March 5, 2015 (90)

Peter was born December 22, 1924 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and departed from this life on March 5, 2015. After escaping from a labor camp in occupied Holland during World War II, Peter made his way to Scotland with the help of the Dutch underground and joined the Dutch Marine Corps. He trained at Camp Lejeune, and while there he met Billie Ruth Springfield, his future wife and the love of his life. After serving two tours of duty in Indonesia, Peter returned to settle in Texas. 

A lifelong passion for horticulture led him to Texas A&M University and a career in the Nursery Industry. After retiring as Manager of Cottage Hill Nursery in Mobile, Alabama, Peter founded van der Giessen Nursery with his son Maarten. 

Peter was a Fellow in the International Plant Propagators, and earned the Lifetime Achievement award from the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association. He was a dedicated father, horticulturalist, and friend. Peter was larger than life. He never met a stranger, and, until proven otherwise, every man was his friend. 

He is survived by his brother, Henk van der Giessen, his children Nella (David) MacRae and Maarten (Colleen) van der Giessen, and his four beloved Grandchildren; Ian MacRae, Anna MacRae Thomas, Alec MacRae, and Andrew MacRae. 

A memorial service will be held at Christ Church Cathedral for Peter and his wife, Billie Ruth Springfield van der Giessen on Saturday March 14th at 11:00 for family and friends. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Mobile Botanical Gardens Aromi Garden.

Billie Ruth van der Giessen, August 5, 1928 - February 17, 2015 (86)

Billie Ruth van der Giessen was born in Dallas, Texas on August 5, 1928. She passed away after a courageous battle with ALS in Providence Hospital in Mobile, AL while surrounded by friends and family on February 17, 2015.

She was a creative soul who enjoyed participating in the arts and made the world more beautiful throughout her life. She was gracious, kind, and deeply beloved by her family, who knew her as "Oma".

Billie was predeceased by her mother, Cozette Springfield and her father Louie Springfield, as well as her sister Kathaleen Springfield. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Peter van der Giessen; her daughter Nella MacRae and her husband Dr. David MacRae; her son Maarten van der Giessen and his wife Colleen Keleher; as well as her brother Louie Springfield. She is also survived by four grandchildren, Ian MacRae, Anna MacRae Thomas, Andrew MacRae, and Alec MacRae.

The memorial arrangements are to be announced to friends and family.

The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the Mobile Botanical Gardens Rhododendron Garden.

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