Hope residents are remembering Gordon Elsbury for the passion he brought to his business and the community.

The 75-year-old Elsbury died Friday evening at Columbus Regional Hospital's emergency room. He was the long-time owner of Elsbury's Greenhouse and a founding member of the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment.

Shirley Robertson worked with Elsbury on the formation of the endowment board and the Hope Chamber of Commerce. She said he made tremendous contributions to the community.

"I think he will be greatly missed even though he has not been able to be involved (recently)," Robertson said. "He was a good businessman and he cared a lot for Hope. He was very instrumental in the endowment and in the Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of both of those boards in the early stages."

"He was always willing to be part of the community and share his expertise."

Robertson said that Elsbury's organizing of the Columbus in Bloom program drew attention to Bartholomew County and drew people to Hope.

"He always made sure that people knew about Hope," Robertson said. "Anything that Gordon was involved in outside of Hope, he always got Hope involved in it and made people realize (Hope) is up here. He was a very good sales person for us."

Robertson said he had a knack to bring people into projects such as the endowment.

Bud Herron, also a founder of the endowment, said that Elsbury's expertise in plants drew many people from around the state and region to Hope and northeastern Bartholomew County.

"It was not just a Hope or Hawcreek Township thing," Herron said. "It was all of Central Indiana. I know people in Indianapolis who if you mentioned Hope, they would talk about Elsbury's Greenhouse. He really ran the finest greenhouse and operation that you could find anywhere. It was just fabulous."

"He knew plants forward and backward. he had a couple of degrees from Purdue... and had been with (Purdue Cooperative) Extension Service. He was just really a great guy."

Herron said that Elbury was involved in every major civic program in Hope about 15 years ago.

"Gordon was just one of those foundational people in Flat Rock and Hawcreek Townships," Herron said.

Kris Medic, former Columbus city arborist and agriculture, natural resources and community development educator for the Bartholomew County Purdue Extension office, said she knew Elsbury "as one of our state's expert growers."

"He shipped Elsbury's chrysanthemums, poinsettias, and bedding plants to outlets and contractors regionally," she said. "In my days working for Columbus, I could go to Gordon for the latest on varieties on the market, and for quality plants. Gordon did great work; he was generous with his knowledge, and a fine colleague. That he also devoted time and treasure to the Hope and Columbus communities was a further distinction. My condolences go to his family and friends."

Tom Miller, who served as the first endowment board president, said that Elsbury was one of the people in the community that others looked up to.

"He was quite instrumental early on in getting the endowment off of the ground as were a number of people who are kind of leaving us," Miller said. "He always had a real passion for the people in the community here. He always had a good business head on him and I think that served him well in his success as a small businessman."

Miller said that Elsbury had an enthusiasm that spread to others.

"When he was a part of a meeting, he had just a real enthusiasm about him that kind of spilled over to everybody," Miller said. "It kind of kept the atmosphere very positive. He always had good things to say and always had positive comments to make.

"I think that was kind of a carryover from his county extension days. He spent a lot of years in that field. In that job you deal with a lot of people in a lot of different areas. Sometimes they are having problems and it is always good to have some encouragement. I would say that Gordon was a real encourager."