In memory: Carl Jorgensen

Retired professor Carl Jorgensen (104 years old), with the “Colorado Aggie Geranium” which was bred or selected by Guss Mussenbrock, Colorado A&M in the early 1940s. Jorgensen propagated them since, and gave one to Goldberry to evaluate for possible sale. April 18, 2018

Carl J.C. Jorgensen, longtime Fort Collins resident, Colorado State University professor and city’s first arborist,  age 104, went to be with Jesus, his Lord and Savior on May 3, at Centre Rehabilitation Facility. A funeral service in celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 305 E. Elizabeth, Fort Collins.

Carl was born January 17, 1914, in Manistee, Michigan, to Jens C. and Ingeborg Burmeister Jorgensen. He received his Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude, from Michigan State University in 1935, and a Master of Science degree in 1946. Doctoral studies there involved pioneering research on 2.4-D as a plant herbicide, results of which were published in Botanical Gazette’s publication.

On September 29th, 1935, at a local dance, Carl met his life-long sweetheart, Margaret Louise, daughter of Reverend Carl and Martha Metz, and they were married exactly two years later. Soon after, Carl accepted a new teaching position in Belleville, Michigan. During that time, nurturing his love of flying, he took night classes in aeronautics and pilot training at Cass Tech. When World War II began, Carl became head of the Department of Aeronautics at the Ford Airplane School at Willow Run, Michigan, where pilots received instruction. At war’s end he resumed doctoral studies at Michigan State.

In 1947, Carl accepted a position as professor of horticulture at Colorado State University (then Colorado A & M) with research responsibilities in peach marketing on the Western Slope along with his teaching duties. When the University of Nebraska initiated an agricultural mission in Colombia, South America, in 1967, Carl joined the team for two years as horticulturist and plant physiologist and assisted in establishing a Department of Plant Physiology in Bogota and Palmira for the National University. Upon his return he became involved with CSU’s international programs, and visited Peace Corps workers in Kenya and Benin, Africa. For several years Carl also had a Saturday morning gardening program on the CSU radio and T.V. network. His 30-year teaching tenure ended with his retirement in 1977.

Carl was a member of several professional organizations, such as the American Horticultural Society, the American Society of Consulting Arborists, and the International Society of Arboriculture, and he received many honorary life memberships. In 1963, while attending the National Convention of the American Iris Society in Denver, Carl became enamored with that beautiful flower, returned home to begin hybridizing in earnest. He was contributing editor to the “World of Iris,” a comprehensive book for Irisarians. Carl introduced more than 40 new varieties of iris and received the Nina Winegar award for his hybridizing efforts. As a loving tribute to his wife, daughters and granddaughters, he named one of his irises after each of them.

In addition to his professional life Carl was also a committed community steward. During the late 1960s, Dutch elm disease began to kill many of the stately elm trees in Fort Collins. Carl was asked to establish a program to save the city’s elms, and to accomplish this he wrote the Fort Collins tree ordinance, established the Forestry Department, and became the city’s first arborist, with the cooperation and funding of the City Council. He retired from those duties in 1979 but continued as a landscape horticultural consultant until 2001.

Carl was a life-long Lutheran and upon arriving in Fort Collins, he joined St. John’s, a small congregation in 1947, became advisor to Gamma Delta, the Lutheran student group at CSU and later served on the building committee for a new edifice at Elizabeth and Matthews. He served on the Board of Elders and as president of the congregation. He was district representative for Aid Association for Lutherans and established the local branch.

Carl was an avid fly fisherman, gardener and photographer. In later years he became an accomplished watercolor artist. His painting were shown at the Trimble Court Artisans gallery in Fort Collins. Both he and Margaret loved to travel and during the 1980s they guided groups to the British Isles, Scandinavia, Mainland Europe, Australia, New Zealand and cruises in the Caribbean. Carl and Margaret were sports fans, were Ram Club supporters and attended most of the events. Above all, Carl was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Frequent visits and reunions allowed him and Margaret the pleasure of enjoying their extensive family residing in many different states.

Carl is survived by two sons; James C. (Sandra) Jorgensen of Conroe, Texas, and Carl C. “Sonny” (Monique) Jorgensen of Fort Collins; four daughters, Diane (Kendell) Smith of Anchorage, Alaska, Bonnie (Herbert) Elliott of San Francisco, California, Linda (Clarke) Houston of Denver, and Sue Anne (William) King of Houston, Texas; 18 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild on the way. All remember him as an amazing character – a smart, learned, lively, and loving presence in their lives and are full of wonderful memories of him.

Preceding Carl in death were his parents; an infant daughter, Carla; Margaret, his beloved wife of 69 years; his daughter, Carol (Patrick) Dougal; and a grandson, Steven K. Smith.

Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 305 E. Elizabeth St., Fort Collins, CO 80524 with visitation at 1 p.m.

Memorials may be made to St. John’s Lutheran Foundation in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 650 W. Drake Road, Fort Collins, CO 80526.

Family and friends may sign the online guestbook or leave a personal note to the family at

Published in The Coloradoan from May 6 to May 16, 2018