Dr. Edmund Newton O'Rourke, Jr.

8 years ago

I just found out this evening, that Dr. Ed O'Rourke passed away, peacefully, on Sunday, November 11, 2012 in Baton Rouge.

I thought y'all would want to know.

His obituary can been seen at

We get the Baton Rouge paper, but I don't usually look at those obituaries. A friend, David Lavergne, called me to let me know. There wasn't a photo of him in the paper--Wish there had been.

Rest in peace, Dr. O'Rourke and thank you for leaving such a great legacy of your fig trees here for us.


Comments (3)

  • noss
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Correction--Dr. O'Rourke did not pass away in Baton Rouge. It appears that he was in Lake Charles at the time of his death. Sorry for the error.


  • bugbite
    8 years ago

    He co-authored the only garden book I could not live without.
    I checked it out from the library, read it, and had to order my own personal copy:

    "Gardening in the Humid South"

    From: Ornamental Horticulture E-News
    November 12 and 19, 2012

    "Ed O�Rourke � In Memoriam (1923-2012)
    Dr. Edmund Newton O'Rourke Jr. died peacefully at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 11, 2012, in a local hospital with his family around him. Ed was born on November 22, 1923, in New Orleans to Edmund N. O'Rourke and Gladys Adams O'Rourke. He was preceded in death by his parents and two older sisters, Maude O'Rourke Kenny and Gladys (Mickie) O'Rourke Mills.
    Ed is survived by his wife of over 65 years, Rosemary Louque O'Rourke, his son, Brian Patrick O'Rourke and wife Dea; and grandson, Colin Patrick O'Rourke. In addition, he is survived by nieces Kathy Dickson, Jean Jones and Cynthia Buckman and nephew Bill Mills.
    Ed attended S.L.I. as an undergraduate. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II in the European theatre where he took part in D-Day, he returned to S.L.I. to finish school and later married his childhood sweetheart Rosemary Claire Louque in 1947. After graduation from S.L.I., he attended Cornell University and received both a master�s degree and doctorate in pomology in three years.
    Ed returned to the South to work for the USDA in Georgia on tung oil research. In 1956, he became a professor in the LSU Horticulture Department. He conducted research on Southern fruit crops, most notably figs, and eventually his favorite selection were
    released as the LSU Purple, LSU Gold and the O'Rourke figs. Ed loved to teach, and throughout his 37 year career at LSU he taught a variety of courses and mentored many graduate students, sharing with them his love and knowledge of plants.
    Ed loved plants of all types, having said often that it was his mother's roses at his childhood home that first inspired his love of plants. He loved to fish, in both fresh and salt water, and was unusually lucky.
    After retirement, Ed co-authored a gardening book for the LSU press titled "Gardening in the Humid South" and co-wrote a monthly gardening column for Country Roads Magazine with his good friend and colleague Dr. Leon Standifer.
    The family asks that anyone who knew and appreciated Ed remember him by planting something in their garden.
    A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Johnson Funeral Home of Lake Charles is in charge of arrangements."


  • mountainman0826
    8 years ago

    Even though I didn't know Dr. O'Rourke, in 2004, when he was 80, I called him from Austin, Texas and he was kind enough to share some information with me. He told me (and I immediately wrote down) that he bred the Hollier fig and that Celeste was the female parent of Hollier. He said that he also bred LSU Everbearing. Dr. O'Rourke said that Smith fig, a heirloom Louisiana fig, was named for Charles Becknell Smith, a nurseryman in Belle Chasse near New Orleans. I was very impressed with the clarity of Dr. O'Rourke's mind and grateful that he took the time to speak with me.