Recalling Stoker’s Nursery

As soon as we got out of the truck we were met by a tall young man who said, “Welcome to Stoker Nursery. I’m Sid, anything we can help with?” We were introduced to the entire family there (Dad, Delmer; Mom, Ardell; Sister, Sheila) because it truly was a family business. This was the beginning of a long friendship with the family. Later as I became the garden manager of the Grand Central that turned into Fred Meyer, the Nursery became one of our prime suppliers for our garden centers.
Delmer Stoker worked at Hill Air Force Base as street and grounds keeper. He built a greenhouse on the west side of Hill AFB. He took pride in the looks of the base. In 1966 he left the base on a medical leave, and took his love of plants. Eventually he opened what became known as Stoker’s Nursery & Garden Center. He began with a simple cold frame beside his garage, then built a small greenhouse in the backyard, which quickly became too small, so he rented a greenhouse on Antelope Drive. In 1968 with wife Ardell and children Sid and Sheila, they began the first greenhouse on 1000 West, in Syracuse, Utah. After that they built one or two each year.
In 1969 Delmer talked Sid into quitting his job at RC Willey and coming into the business full time. They were selling plants in most of Northern Utah as well as Idaho and Wyoming.
Sid was a hard-working man who also instilled this in his kids. After Delmer passed, Sid took over full management of the business. Even though Sid was plagued with medical problems, he always had a smile and hearty handshake for all he came in contact with. I bought many plants from the Nursery as the garden manager. It was a pleasure working with him and all the family.
I spoke with Jerry, his wife of almost five decades, and she said, “Let everyone know what a kind and generous man he was.” Well Jerry, that is an easy task, because anyone who knew Sid was aware of this. That’s not to say Sid was a push-over. Quite the contrary. When it came to the nursery, he knew what was needed and expected everyone to match his work ethic, but he didn’t ask anyone to do what he would not do.
That is likely why he was hesitant to ask for help one year when the snow load became too heavy for the greenhouses and several collapsed. In the spring, he could not muster up the strength to clean up the mess, and discovered he had colon cancer. One Saturday, there were about 50 family and friends that came to help with the clean-up. He said, “I guess I’m a proud man, not wanting to ask for help, but I realized that if you let people help you, it can also be a blessing to them.” When asked about his cancer he said, “I think you can drive yourself crazy if you sit around and ask ‘Why me?’ I just figure those were the cards I’ve been dealt and you try to do your best to make it through.”
Sid E. Stoker passed away December 16, 2017 at the age of 69. What an asset to his family, community, and most everyone who knew him. I’m so glad to have been one of those and I think he might be spreading a little joy in heaven with his beautiful geraniums.

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