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JJR/Roy Fund Legacy Gift

September 1, 2010

In 2009, LAF was the recipient of an unanticipated bequest from Clarence Roy, one of the three founders of JJR, and his wife Ruth, now both deceased. While JJR had been a long-time supporter of LAF, the $680,000 gift was the largest LAF has received in its 44-year history. We spoke with Deb Mitchell, Senior Vice President at JJR to learn more the Roys and what led to this unprecedented gift.

What do you think led Clarence and Ruth to make this bequest to LAF?

Since it’s founding in 1961, JJR has become a nationally-recognized leader in landscape architecture, planning, urban design, civil engineering, and environmental science. Sustainability, research, and an integrated approach are core values for JJR, upon which the firm has built its success. These values are shared by the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

JJR has been a long-time supporter and investor in LAF’s research programs because JJR strongly believes that advancing the body of knowledge of the profession informs and moves the practice of landscape architecture forward. In 1986, JJR established the JJR Research Fund with the vision of reaching $100,000.  With subsequent contributions from the principals and firm, contributions made during LAF’s Second Century Campaign, and a $117,000 contribution from the estate of David Zuern, a JJR principal, in 2004 the JJR Research Fund exceeded its original vision. The fund has maintained a balance of approximately $200,000 while supporting LAF research programs such as the Landscape Futures Initiative and the Land and Community Case Study Series

The gift from Clarence and Ruth Roy continues this tradition of support for LAF research initiatives. Their bequest was combined with the JJR Research Fund and renamed as the JJR/Roy Fund. This fund is now able to make a significant commitment to the Landscape Performance Series as a Founding Partner.

Tell us more about Clarence and Ruth Roy. Did you know them personally?

In 1989 Clarence Roy recruited me to join the JJR Dallas office, then under his leadership. I knew Clarence as a thoughtful, gentle man of few words and great integrity. After receiving his degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan, Clarence started his professional career at Lambert’s, then noted for Dallas’ finest gardens. It was there that he met his wife, Ruth, who was in the interior’s division. He then joined the brothers Carl and William Johnson in their new practice as Johnson, Johnson & Roy in 1961 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Clarence strongly believed in supporting the profession, and I regularly saw him at local, state and national ASLA events. I remember flying back to Dallas from one state conference and sitting in the same row as Clarence and Ruth. For the short flight, they worked simultaneously on a crossword puzzle — Clarence from one corner, Ruth from the other. By the time we landed, the puzzle was done in ink with no mistakes. Now that is teamwork that only comes from a close marital bond.

Do you have any advice for others who may be contemplating legacy giving?

Clarence’s deep love of the profession is expressed in his and Ruth’s generous gift to LAF. The JJR/Roy Fund is a legacy gift, and through wise stewardship, JJR hopes to perpetuate this gift well into the future. We invite other firms to consider building a similar legacy with LAF – a legacy that extends the life of a firm over generations;  a legacy that one generation hands to the next to build and steward into the future; a legacy for the future of the profession, which in turn is a legacy for the future of the planet.

JJR was founded by landscape architects Carl Johnson, Bill Johnson and Clarence Roy (Johnson, Johnson & Roy, Inc.) in 1961 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today JJR is a nationally recognized leader in landscape architecture, planning, urban design, civil engineering, and environmental science.

LAF is grateful to the many individuals and organizations that provide financial support towards fulfilling our mission to support the preservation, improvement, and enhancement of the environment.

Much of what LAF is able to accomplish would not be possible without the thought leadership and financial investment of our major supporters, including ASLA, which provides over $125,000 of in-kind support annually.