This was the latest in a series of group projects to repair and restore areas in Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Since 2001, volunteers on these efforts have included convicts, Ford Motor Company engineers, and ordinary folks who love the Arb. Each project was a collaboration between Bob Grese, the Arb’s director, and Don Gray, an emeritus U-M professor of civil and environmental engineering.
Grese looks younger than his fifty-three years. One of eleven children of a Lutheran minister, he is gracious and self-effacing. He’s good at bringing people of varied backgrounds together for a common goal.
Ten years ago, Gray, now seventy-one, began making the annual trip to his Lake Michigan cottage by bicycle. Tall, with a neatly trimmed beard, Gray was president of the Friends of the Arboretum when Grese became director in 1999.
School Girls’ Glen
Their first project was saving School Girls’ Glen, a steep ravine that begins near the Washington Heights entrance to the Arb and runs 1,150 yards down to the Huron. For years, storm-water from Forest Hill Cemetery had been badly eroding the glen.