Why We Give: Bill and Nancy
A Gift That Grows 

Nancy and William Knowles

To the hundreds of thousands of visitors who stroll through the English Woodland Garden each year, the Pawpaw tree planted there may blend into the landscape. For one family, however, the tree holds special meaning.

The English Woodland Garden is dedicated in memory of Adelaide La Beaume Cherbonnier and Edward Cherbonnier. Edward was known as “Paw Paw” to his grandchildren, so the tree by that name is a fitting tribute to a man who loved to Garden.

“I think Father was born with a trowel in his hand,” said Nancy Knowles, Edward and Adelaide’s daughter.

The Cherbonnier and Knowles families have had decades-long relationships with the Garden. Edward Cherbonnier served on a Garden committee when Dr. Peter Raven arrived as Garden president in 1971. The ensuing friendship included their families, and the Ravens enjoyed Thanksgiving dinners at the Cherbonnier residence.

Adelaide and Edward traveled to England and felt a special affection for English gardens. They were particularly interested in supporting the English Woodland Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. When Adelaide passed away, Edward gave a gift to the English garden in her memory. When Edward passed away a few years later, his family gave another gift in his memory. Their daughter, Adelaide “Jabber” Cherbonnier, made a gift to make the pathways through the English garden accessible to wheelchairs. She left another gift in her estate in 2008, which was honored by the installation of a rustic table-and-chairs set in the woodland garden.

“The memorial to my sister is wonderful,” said Nancy Knowles. “It is tucked away a little bit. When you get there, it is a great place to sit and relax.”

Nancy and her late husband William also became members of the Garden’s Heritage Society. They included the Garden in their estate plans because they appreciate the Garden’s beauty and also support its worldwide effort in preserving ecosystems.

“We love the outdoors,” Nancy Knowles said. “We love wildflowers and nature. We also believe in everything the Garden is doing in research and conservation. [Joining the Heritage Society] was a very easy decision to make.”