Ernest Wertheim -- December 30, 1919 to August 4, 2020

A bright light dimmed in this realm but will illuminate the next.

On August 4, 2020, at 100 years, 7months, and 4 days old, Ernest Wertheim passed away. Mr. Wertheim was a true industry icon.

Wertheim opened a landscape architect firm in 1940 and quickly became an industry mainstay. That design firm, now known as Wertheim, van der Ploeg, & Klemeyer, has been engaged in the design of residential, commercial, institutional, and public architectural and landscape architectural work in the United States and abroad. WVK is internationally known for its work in garden center and retail nursery design and space planning, with clients in 40 states, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy.

Wertheim’s experiences, insights, and ability to see opportunities in this industry set a high bar for all horticulture professionals.

For over 75 years old, Wertheim furthered the success of the green industry, especially the retail sector. Wertheim was a speaker at innumerable conferences and workshops over many decades where he gave his expert advice to multiple generations of retail businesses. His keen sense of business coupled with his knowledge of national and international trends were well known and respected.

Wertheim was more than a San Francisco landscape architect and garden center expert known around the world. He fled Nazi Germany while being fired upon, arriving in America in December of 1938. Then, as World War II broke out, served in the Pacific Theater as an intelligence officer for General MacArthur, all the while taking note of the horticulture around him.

"During my youth, in the Germany of the 1920s, my country was in chaos, defeated by war, and in economic crisis. But all I could see was the crocus, the lavender and golden flower, poking its way above the snow after a long and colorless winter. The sight was exhilarating to my young eyes. How brave the crocus was withstanding the cold to announce springtime had come to Hamburg..."

In 1941, Ernest was introduced to Margrit. The pair married and settled in San Francisco, where they raised two sons: Andy and Rick. Avid skiers, the Wertheim family often traveled in the 1940s and 50s the two-lane Hwy. 40 from San Francisco to ski at Mount Rose, White Hills at Spooner Summit, or Squaw Valley. Wertheim continued to ski his entire life and even hit the slopes at the age of 98.

In 2018, Wertheim joined HRI alongside his longtime business partner Jack Klemeyer, to establish the Wertheim, van der Ploeg, & Klemeyer Research Fund as a celebration of a lifelong dedication to the horticultural industry. As Wertheim explained, his success and time in the limelight would not have been possible without Klemeyer’s diligent and talented contributions behind the scenes. Wertheim expressed the hope that creation of this fund would result in a lasting recognition of their nearly career-long partnership and, as he did for over 75 years, support industry advancement for a generation to come.

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Ernest Wertheim Memorial

by Horticultural Research Institute, Inc.


Ernest Wertheim -- December 30, 1919 to August 4, 2020

A bright light dimmed in this realm but will illuminate the next.

On August 4, 2020, at 100 years, 7months, and 4 days old, Ernest Wertheim passed away. Mr. Wertheim was a true industry icon.

Wertheim opened a landscape architect firm in 1940 and quickly became an industry mainstay. That design firm, now known as Wertheim, van der Ploeg, & Klemeyer, has been engaged in the design of residential, commercial, institutional, and public architectural and landscape architectural work in the United States and abroad. WVK is internationally known for its work in garden center and retail nursery design and space planning, with clients in 40 states, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Italy.

Wertheim’s experiences, insights, and ability to see opportunities in this industry set a high bar for all horticulture professionals.

For over 75 years old, Wertheim furthered the success of the green industry, especially the retail sector. Wertheim was a speaker at innumerable conferences and workshops over many decades where he gave his expert advice to multiple generations of retail businesses. His keen sense of business coupled with his knowledge of national and international trends were well known and respected.

Wertheim was more than a San Francisco landscape architect and garden center expert known around the world. He fled Nazi Germany while being fired upon, arriving in America in December of 1938. Then, as World War II broke out, served in the Pacific Theater as an intelligence officer for General MacArthur, all the while taking note of the horticulture around him.

"During my youth, in the Germany of the 1920s, my country was in chaos, defeated by war, and in economic crisis. But all I could see was the crocus, the lavender and golden flower, poking its way above the snow after a long and colorless winter. The sight was exhilarating to my young eyes. How brave the crocus was withstanding the cold to announce springtime had come to Hamburg..."

In 1941, Ernest was introduced to Margrit. The pair married and settled in San Francisco, where they raised two sons: Andy and Rick. Avid skiers, the Wertheim family often traveled in the 1940s and 50s the two-lane Hwy. 40 from San Francisco to ski at Mount Rose, White Hills at Spooner Summit, or Squaw Valley. Wertheim continued to ski his entire life and even hit the slopes at the age of 98.

In 2018, Wertheim joined HRI alongside his longtime business partner Jack Klemeyer, to establish the Wertheim, van der Ploeg, & Klemeyer Research Fund as a celebration of a lifelong dedication to the horticultural industry. As Wertheim explained, his success and time in the limelight would not have been possible without Klemeyer’s diligent and talented contributions behind the scenes. Wertheim expressed the hope that creation of this fund would result in a lasting recognition of their nearly career-long partnership and, as he did for over 75 years, support industry advancement for a generation to come.