Jane "Bunnie" Geroux, one of those who helped lay the groundwork for Gahanna to be designated as the Herb Capital of Ohio, died Nov. 22.
Geroux, 95, told ThisWeek in 2012 that the Gahanna Historical Society and a group of women called the "Herb Ladies" planted the seed for the city to be designed as the Herb Capital in 1972.
Geroux was one of those Herb Ladies along with Lucy Seeds, Ruth Rauchenstein, Trudy Miller and Ruth Wilke.
She said they visited groups in a tri-state area to talk about herbs.
When Gahanna launched the Herbal Trail on May 12, 2012, linking points of interest showcasing the city as the Herb Capital of Ohio, Geroux, a former Gahanna council member, said it annoyed her more than 40 years ago when developers said Gahanna would never be anything more than a bunch of subdivisions looking to be a city.
She went to legislators in 1972, seeking Gahanna be designated as the Herb Capital of Ohio.
"The versatility of herbs is so great," she said.
Geroux was in the balcony of the Ohio Statehouse when a resolution was passed naming Gahanna the Ohio Herb Capital in 1972.
She said cooking with herbs originally sparked her interest in the plants.
"When I could go into my yard and get something to put in my food, I loved it," Geroux said.
She operated Culpeppers, a successful Gahanna business specializing in dried bouquets, in the Old Ridenour Home.
Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland said Geroux would always give him advice and would start off saying, "'Tomasita, you need to consider ...'"
Kneeland said he will remember Geroux as that community leader and person who gave more to the community than most people are aware, from her service on city council in the 1970s to the Gahanna Planning Commission in the 1980s, and her efforts in acquiring a $100,000 grant from the state of Ohio years ago to start what then was called the Ohio Herb Education Center (now Ohio Herb Center).
"(She) and her husband, Jerry, were a team that both believed in and fiercely promoted Gahanna," Kneeland said. "Our community has benefited greatly from the work she did as evidenced by areas like the Geroux Herb Gardens at city hall, which is only one of many examples."
Karen Eylon, former director of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, noted on social media that the herb rosemary stands for remembrance.
"I remember and am grateful for the gift that you were to me and so many," she wrote about Geroux.
Laurie Jadwin, executive director of Visit Gahanna, said as her team was in the midst of preparing for the Holiday Lights Celebration, they were saddened to learn the news of the passing of Geroux, "our unofficial queen of Gahanna."
Jadwin said Geroux held a special place in the hearts of the staff and board at Visit Gahanna, as she was a long-time partner and supporter of the organization.
"She put Gahanna on the map as a visitor destination when she led the charge to have Gahanna designated the Herb Capital of Ohio in 1972 -- a designation that later inspired new businesses, new experiences (including the Ohio Herb Center and the Herbal Trail), and, of course, the Geroux Herb Gardens. Bunny remained one of Gahanna's staunchest ambassadors for decades, and we look forward to continuing to honor her legacy in our tourism efforts," Jadwin said.
Geroux was proclaimed Herb Garden Ambassador by the city of Gahanna on July 19, 2016.
The proclamation called her a trailblazer, laying the groundwork for Gahanna to become the Herb Capital of Ohio.
The Geroux Herb Garden, named in her honor at 206 S. Hamilton Road, provides an educational retreat for those interested in the use of herbs for culinary and medical benefits.
Geroux was the third of 10 children born to Jesse Reid and Louise Hope McCain. Her father who was an Indiana attorney general and mother who was a school teacher.
According to her obituary, in addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her siblings Nancy Kramer, John McCain, Patricia Kanable, Marialyce Knoll, William McCain, Fred McCain and Julia McCain.
She is survived by her daughters Patti (Dave) Belli and Jinx (Edward) Wilke; grandchildren Brandon Belli, Amy Boyd, Camden Belli, Dru Belli, Tyler Wilke and Spencer Wilke; great grandchildren Lindsay, Trent, Julia Belli, Avery Grace, Ashton Boyd, Forest Belli, Taylor and Tyler Wilke II; siblings, Joanne Gorden, James McCain and Lynda Brooks.
Calling hours were scheduled Nov. 25 at Schoedinger Northeast, 1051 E. Johnstown Road, where a funeral service was scheduled Nov. 26.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 1379 Dublin Road, Columbus, OH 43215.