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A Letter From an Early Champion

Margueritte "Maggie" Drake, Board Member Emerita of Portland Japanese Garden, is seen here attending a reception for members of the Golden Crane Society in 2021. Photo by Jonathan Ley

Portland Japanese Garden has grown and flourished because of the support it receives from its generous members, donors, and community. This nurturance began in the 1960s when Portlanders banded together to create a Japanese Garden. One extraordinary figure who helped realize Portland Japanese Garden is Margueritte (Maggie) Drake. The first female board president of the Garden, Ms. Drake’s dedication was present early, continued through five decades of service on our Board of Directors, and still resonates today in 2021. We are honored to share this heartfelt letter from Ms. Drake in which she requests others donate so the Garden can continue to be a vital part of the community, near and far.

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Dear Friends,

Not many people can say they’ve seen Portland Japanese Garden grow and evolve over a span of nearly 60 years. I’m one of the lucky few who not only saw it but had a hand in guiding it along the way. It’s overwhelming to look around today and think how far the Garden has come since my first tour in 1963. I’m writing today to ask you to consider a gift to support Portland Japanese Garden and the community it creates, bringing together people who value its beauty, harmony, and peace.

The Japanese Garden Society of Oregon was formed in 1963. Takuma Tono, a Tokyo Agricultural University professor and internationally recognized authority on landscape design, was commissioned to design and supervise the development of the garden. In this photo, Professor Tono can be seen near the Moon Bridge.

I first became involved with Portland Japanese Garden after reading in The Oregonian that there was going to be an annual meeting for the Japanese Garden Society. Mayor Terry Schrunk was inspired by growing cultural ties between Oregon and Japan in the late 1950s and imagined creating a space to help heal the wounds of the local community after World War II. Little did I know that my genuine interest in Japanese culture and attendance at the annual meeting would turn into a lifelong vocation.

It’s overwhelming to look around today and think how far the Garden has come since my first tour in 1963.

Margueritte “Maggie” Drake

Over the decades, I’ve watched many visitors come and go through the Garden gate. Especially in those early days, they left with a very different attitude toward Japan. The peacefulness and the tranquility of the Garden seemed to overcome preconceptions and open peoples’ hearts. Your contribution today honors the Garden’s foundational value of promoting peace through the experience of peace.

Margueritte “Maggie” Drake, Board Member Emerita of Portland Japanese Garden, seen in 2017 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Cultural Village.

Through its 58 years, the Garden has been a prime attraction for the city of Portland and the state of Oregon. It offers guests a haven of peace and tranquility from life’s daily uncertainty and turmoil. Once born of the community, now Portland Japanese Garden cultivates community in return and helps to inspire harmony and peace in all who enter its gates.

One of the nicest things in my life is to see this Garden continue to grow from a baby garden built on the site of the old zoo to a world-class organization that hosts half a million visitors every year. The Garden has remained financially independent thanks to the generosity of our loyal friends and wonderful community like you.

One of the nicest things in my life is to see this Garden continue to grow from a baby garden built on the site of the old zoo to a world-class organization that hosts half a million visitors every year.

Margueritte “Maggie” Drake

Please join me in supporting Portland Japanese Garden’s future by making a gift today. When you make your gift before the end of the year, you’ll increase the impact of your contribution with our board match. With your support, I can only imagine how far the Garden will go in the next sixty years.

With gratitude,

Margueritte Drake

Board Member Emerita

See a recent interview of Ms. Drake with KGW here.

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