As members of the Pittsburgh Rose Society like to remind people, the types of varieties of the flowers go far beyond the red ones that particularly are popular around Valentine’s Day.

Many were on display in all their stateliness during the 72-year-old organization’s recent David McKibben Memorial Rose Expo, held at Mt. Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Kristen Dotterway

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Pittsburgh Rose Society member Kristen Dotterway shows one of her favorite varities, a floribunda named Hot Cocoa.

Preceding the event was a memorial service for Dr. McKibben, a pediatric dentist by profession and certified master rosarian by avocation.

“He was our webmaster and our newsletter editor, and he wrote many scholarly articles,” said Bill Dorn, rose society president. “So we miss him dearly.”

At the start of the expo, Dorn presented Cil McKibben, David’s wife, with the Silver Medal Honor from the Pennsylvania-New Jersey District of the American Rose Society, which was awarded posthumously to her husband.

“We recognize someone every year for meritorious service to our district,” Dorn said.

In addition to his Pittsburgh presidency, Dorn was elected as director of the Penn-Jersey District. He will be installed and seated as a national board member of the American Rose Society during its national convention, scheduled for Sept. 9-14 in Milwaukee.

A resident of Pittsburgh’s Windgap neighborhood, near Crafton and Ingram, Dorn grows 120 roses in what he calls the Windgap Rose Garden.

Queen Elizabeth

The hybrid tea rose Queen Elizabeth first was bred in 1954, the year after Elizabeth II's coronation.

“My first experience was about 20 years ago, and I killed a rose. And then I became more interested later in life,” he said.

“Since I work as a psychotherapist, I typically work in the afternoon and evening. So my mornings are free. And what I like to say is, ‘In my office, I listen to my clients talk. And in the garden, I talk and my roses listen.’ So it’s a good deal.”

In 2019, he was elected to the top post of the Pittsburgh Rose Society, which normally meets monthly for educational or social events. The group also periodically schedules expositions, with the one at the Presbyterian church presented in conjunction with Mt. Lebanon Public Library, where Dr. McKibben volunteered.

“There’s no judging involved, and it’s very casual,” Dorn said about the expo. “Our members cut their roses and bring them to display for the public.”

For 2022, the society plans to resume its presentation of rose shows.

“That’s a little more formalized, where roses will be groomed and presented, and judges will come and evaluate each rose,” Dorn said.

The group’s mission is to help gardeners grow better roses, and members offer free educational programs on a regular basis.

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Bill Dorn and Cil McKibben

On behalf of posthumous awardee David McKibben, Bill Dorn presents the Silver Medal Honor from the Pennsylvania-New Jersey District of the American Rose Society to Cil McKibben.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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