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New garden dedicated to longtime employee Lila Magie

Before retiring to Maine in 1991, Lila Magie was an indomitable force at Rockefeller for 41 years, working with five university presidents and rising from stenographer to head of non-academic personnel, and then to director of faculty administration and corporate secretary to the Board of Trustees.

Lila Magie

Lila Magie (right, at center) with Rockefeller’s then-Chairman of the Board Richard M. Furlaud (left) and David Rockefeller in 1991; Ms. Magie was presented with a pewter silver plate engraved with the university seal and signatures of the members of the Board of Trustees in honor of her 40 years of service to the university. The new garden is located between Bronk and the hospital.

Ms. Magie’s commitment to the university over four decades is legendary, and so is the decision, made before her death in 2012, to leave her entire estate to Rockefeller.

“It is a gift that is extraordinarily meaningful because it comes from someone who was a long-serving and cherished member of the Rockefeller community,” says Marnie Imhoff, senior vice president for development.

In honor of Ms. Magie, the university has established the Lila J. Magie Garden in the triangular space between the Bronk building and the hospital. Planted with hydrangeas, azaleas, lilacs, lady ferns, and roses, with a pink flowering dogwood tree, it was dedicated on June 1, 2015, before a group of Rockefeller staff and faculty, past and present.

“For most on the campus, Lila was the first person they met when they came here, and the last official face they saw when they left,” wrote David Rockefeller in a personal tribute letter on the occasion of Ms. Magie’s retirement. “We were a village of just 300 souls when she came here 41 years ago, and now there are nearly 2,000 of us. She has been a marriage counselor and a financial counselor; she has helped people give birthday parties for their children, and told them where to buy buttons.”

A child of New York City, Ms. Magie spent summers in the country, where she developed a love of horticulture. “She learned to appreciate the role of color, texture, and form in plants. In Bronxville and later in Maine, she established elaborate flower and landscaped gardens to enhance her surroundings,” says Joan Bartsch, a close friend and representative of her estate. “But Lila was also a gardener of people, who affected the growth of Rockefeller University through her careful selection of job candidates in the personnel department and her wise counsel of the faculty and administration. The creation of this garden is the perfect tribute to her.”