Catharine G. Heyes, a passionate gardener who won awards for horticultural achievement and served for many years on the board of Old Westbury Gardens, died Aug. 18 at home in Glen Cove.
Her son Edward K. Heyes, of Hortonville, Wisconsin, said she died of natural causes after a brief illness. She was 91.
Heyes was born on May 5, 1924, to Grover C. -- an investment adviser and onetime member of the New York Stock Exchange -- and Catharine G. O'Neill, who for many years served as village clerk for Oyster Bay Cove, where the family owned a home. Before settling there full time, the family also lived in Manhattan while Heyes attended the Chapin School through high school. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College.
She developed her interest in gardening as a young woman living at home when her mother encouraged her to join the local garden club, her son said.
In 1946, she married Fred L. Heyes, an investment banker who'd served as an officer in the Navy during World War II. The couple lived in Lattingtown and then Syosset before building a home in 1956 in Oyster Bay Cove on land owned by her parents. It was there she established an extensive perennial garden with boxwood hedges, gravel walkways, water features and beds of roses, astilbes and other plants.
She and her husband moved to Glen Cove a few years before his death in 1990. There, she created a "charming garden" that was featured in a number of gardening books and shows, her son Edward said. "She'd have people tour her gardens regularly and they were used as a teaching tool by local garden clubs," he said.
A member of the Garden Club of America, she won its horticultural achievement certificate in 1984, and in 1994 was given its Zone III Horticultural Award. The North Country Garden Club President's Cup was presented to her in 1990, her son said.
She was proud of her awards: "They were a validation of a lot of hard work, in terms of volunteering her time and effort to promote the creation of beautiful spaces," he said.
At her death, she was a trustee emeritus of Old Westbury Gardens, where she'd served for more than 25 years on its board and garden committee.
A stylish woman who dressed smartly whether for a luncheon, cocktail party or board meeting, she enjoyed a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. "She could work a room like no one else," her son said, "and never avoided an opportunity for a conversation."
She was a member of the Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, where she played golf regularly into her 80s and was responsible for container floral arrangements that she rotated with the seasons.
She also enjoyed weekly bridge games with neighbors up until a few months ago.
In addition to her son and his wife, Linda, Heyes is survived by another son, Fred L. Heyes, of Orange, Massachusetts, and his wife Anne; a brother, George D. O'Neill, of Oyster Bay Cove, and his wife Abby; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Heyes was predeceased by brother Grover O'Neill.
A memorial service is planned for Sept. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church of Cold Spring Harbor, with burial to follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Old Westbury Gardens: P.O. Box 430, Old Westbury, NY 11568.
The ZIP code for the mailing address of Old Westbury Gardens was incorrect in an earlier version of the story.