Family honors man who promoted the ‘The Camellia City’

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By Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn |

FORT WALTON BEACH — The family members of beloved resident Henry “Hank” Boudolf gathered at the Frances Pryor Camellia Gardens on Wednesday to plant a bush in his honor.

In 1993 Boudolf, who lived in Fort Walton Beach for 40 years and was known for his love of camellia flowers, approached Fort Walton Beach’s mayor to ask for the city to be known as “The Camellia City” and have a camellia garden planted downtown.

His request was granted and the Frances Pryor Camellia Gardens was born. Boudolf passed away five years ago.

“It would mean so much to him that we all came together to plant this camellia in his honor,” said Patti Rausch, Boudolf’s daughter. “He came from Belgium and his father raised camellias in Belgium. It was part of his heritage. Every time I look at a blossom in my backyard I think of him.”

The emotional family members each grabbed a handful of soil Wednesday and covered the roots of the camellia bush, which bared three pink flowers. After the evergreen bush was planted, the family spent time hugging and sharing favorite memories of Boudolf.

Rausch said she remembers her father handing out camellia blooms to anyone and everyone he met.

“He brought them to his chiropractor. He brought them to his dentist. He brought them to anyone he ran into,” she said.

On Thursday, the group will gather again at a family-favorite shore along the Emerald Coast to spread the ashes of Hank, his wife Fran Boudolf and their dog, Maggie Bell.

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