Remembering Michelle Bellefeuille

BY CATHY EDGER

APLD-CA BAY AREA DISTRICT

 Michelle Bellefeuille in her garden.

Michelle Bellefeuille in her garden.

Glowing, luminous, humble, serene, graceful: these words all describe Michelle Bellefeuille, a Bay Area District member I was privileged to know, and with whom I worked closely on APLD business over many years.

An artist by training, she was accomplished in printmaking, encaustics, oil painting and more. Like many of us who transitioned into landscape design from former occupations, she jumped in with both feet. She gardened at the Charles M. Schultz Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa, took classes in horticulture and design at Santa Rosa Junior College, and earned a certificate in Sustainable Landscape Design at Sonoma State University.

As North Bay District board members, we attended a Chapter board meeting in Los Angeles at the Virginia Robinson Garden in November 2012. Michelle came away so enthused and empowered by the experience that the following year she took on the District presidency. She had discovered that not only was this APLD leadership thing not as intimidating as she had initially thought, it was fun!

In 2014 she stepped up to the Chapter Board to become vice president and then president-elect in 2015, assisting President Amelia Lima. “With her contagious smile and willingness to help, Michelle was invaluable to me,” says Amelia. “She did everything from helping me write my president’s messages for the newsletter to organizing board meetings and keeping our meetings running on time.”

After a trip to the emergency room in the fall of 2015, Michelle learned she had lung cancer. She had to resign her position with APLD, but was able to joke, “I picked a helluva way to get out of being president next year!”

Michelle was passionate about tandem cycling and hiking with her husband, Craig Gaevert. “Few days were ever better,” reminisces Craig about an epic trip cycling down the California coast in 2008.

In her own garden she gloried in the appearance of California Swallowtail Butterfly cocoons on the California Pipevine she grew to support them. Roses, clematis and sages in subtle colors graced her casual yet beautifully maintained garden that was always a pleasure to visit. Fuyu persimmons in November, dwarf lollipop olive trees draped in Christmas lights in December, and vigorous native white sages in late spring were among the delights I looked forward to during my visits.

APLD was fortunate to have had such an able, creative and gracious member. I count myself lucky to have called her not only my colleague, but also my friend.