Obituary: Andrew Lee Guthrie, 1960-2015

Andrew Lee Guthrie, 54, of Church Crookham, Hampshire, U.K., passed away on July 24 at the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, Surrey, of complications from renal cancer. 

Mr. Guthrie was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA, on Oct. 20, 1960, to Madge Gould Guthrie of Morgantown and the late Dr. Roland Lee Guthrie. He was a 1978 graduate of Morgantown High School, and earned his bachelor’s degree in plant science and master’s degree in horticulture at West Virginia University. 

He served as vice-president of the WVU Horticulture Club and was a member of Alpha Zeta, the fraternal organization for agriculture and natural resources professionals.  

He also earned a diploma in botanic garden management from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London, and a diploma in garden design from The Garden Design School at Painshill Park, Cobham, Surrey, U.K. 

After completing his master’s degree, Mr. Guthrie accepted an eight-month internship at the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Civic Garden Center, where he realized that his interests lay in the field of public horticulture. After a brief period of managing a wholesale/retail nursery in Pittsburgh, he became the first gardener hired by the Pittsburgh Zoo in its then 90-year history. 

After five years at the zoo, he took up the post of curator at the Joseph Reynold O’Neal Botanic Gardens in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. In addition to the botanic gardens, he was responsible for the gardens at Government House, the official home of the British governor to the islands. 

In 1995, Mr. Guthrie moved to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, to take up the post of general manager of the newly established Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. During his 15 years at the botanic park, he helped guide the facility from an idea to a fully functional botanic garden. He also served 12 years as secretary of the Cayman Islands Orchid Society. 

In 2008, the Cayman Islands government asked Mr. Guthrie to design a traditional Cayman sand garden for exhibit at the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in London. This garden exhibit, complete with 18-foot coconut trees and a replica of a traditional Cayman cottage, won a silver medal, and Mr. Guthrie had the pleasure of being introduced to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she visited the Cayman exhibit as part of the royal tour of the show. 

In 2009, he was asked to create another garden exhibit for the Chelsea Flower Show. This exhibit was a re-creation of a Cayman coral reef using plants that looked like coral and other undersea creatures, and it won a gold medal and the Royal Horticultural Society President’s Most Creative Exhibit in Show award. 

In 2010, he accepted the position of garden manager at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Gardens, one of the most famous gardens in the U.K. Unfortunately, after one year Mr. Guthrie was diagnosed with renal cancer. 

In addition to his mother, Mr. Guthrie is survived by his partner of 11 years, two brothers and two cousins. 

In addition to his father, he was predeceased by his first partner and an aunt. 

Following a private cremation ceremony, a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated in the Church of England – St. Mary’s Church, High Street, Putney, London, SW15 1SN, U.K. on Sept. 1, with the Rev. Lady Ailsa Newby as celebrant. Interment will take place at a later date at Colney Wood Woodland Burial Park, Norwich, Norfolk. 

A memorial service will take place in Grand Cayman at a later date. 

Andrew Lee Guthrie
Andrew Lee Guthrie