April 12, 1940 – June 12, 2018
Dick Page won numerous awards as a landscape designer, but the honor that perhaps best summed up his accomplishments came from his high school classmates at a reunion.
They called it the Horatio Alger Award, which they presented to him to acknowledge his success both personally and professionally.
Mr. Page married his high school sweetheart, Karen L. Hedlund, and they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this year.
His business, Woodstream Nurseries in Clarence, is one of the area’s leading landscape services and has been cited as a model for small business owners.
A lifetime member and past president of the Western New York Nurserymen’s Association, he was its Man of the Year in 1987.
The University at Buffalo Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the School of Management gave him its C. Taylor Kew Memorial Award in 1997 for his commitment to business and the community.
He died Tuesday in his Clarence Center home after a lengthy illness. He was 78.
Born in Buffalo, Richard E. Page Jr. graduated from Kenmore High School in 1958 and went to Alfred State College to study accounting.
“He decided, a year in, that accounting wasn’t his thing,” his son, Eric Page, said.
He found his new direction after he enlisted in the Army Reserve. While training to be a medic at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, he also found a part-time job with a landscaping firm.
He enjoyed the work so much that he returned to Alfred State and enrolled in its horticultural program.
After earning his degree, he worked for a tree farm in Sheridan in Chautauqua County, then for Land O’Trees Nursery in Williamsville.
He helped start a nursery in New Jersey, then returned to the Buffalo area in the mid-1960s to work with Menne Nursery in Amherst.
In 1969, he and a horticultural classmate from Alfred began Woodstream Nurseries and 10 years later he became solo proprietor. His wife, Karen, became vice president.
Woodstream does wholesale and retail plant sales, but the heart of its business is Mr. Page’s specialty – landscape design.
“He did the sales and the drawings,” his son Eric said, “and had our certified crews go out and install the designs.”
He was cited by management expert John B. Miner in two studies on small businesses, “The 4 Routes to Entrepreneurial Success” in 1996 and “A Psychological Typology of Successful Entrepreneurs” in 1997.
“His forte is as an empathetic salesman,” Miner observed. “He is spontaneous, persuasive, empathic, loyal, grasps the values of others and draws out other people’s feelings.”
He was chosen by UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership to be part of its 1990–91 class. He became a member of its board of directors, served as its president and was chairman of its Alumni Association.
In 1999, he was one of the first to enroll his company in the new Family Business Center in the UB School of Management. He also took care to arrange for succession at his firm.
His son, Eric, who also graduated from the horticultural program at Alfred State, has become president.
His daughter, Lisa, an elementary school teacher, married Randy Wdowka, another Alfred State horticultural graduate and a foreman at Woodstream. Wdowka now is vice president.
Mr. Page was a past president of Plant WNY and a member of numerous other professional organizations. He was a past president of the Buffalo Executives Association and a member of Probus.
An antique auto fancier, he converted a 1932 Model A Ford into a metallic light green street rod and displayed it at car shows.
He was a boating enthusiast and, with his wife, sailed the Great Circle Loop from Buffalo via the Erie Canal to Florida, where they would stay for the winter, then return in spring. He was a former member of the Buffalo Launch Club and served on its board of directors.
In recent years, he enjoyed traveling via recreation vehicle across America. He spent winters in Venice, Fla.
Survivors also include a sister, Sandra Gelwicks; and four grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. June 27 in Good Shepherd Parish, St. Augustine Worship Site, 8700 Goodrich Road, Clarence Center.