FEBRUARY 23, 1951 - JANUARY 17, 2017

   On January 17th, 2017, the shocking news came that Bob Axmear had passed away. Few people have had the impact on the hosta world that Bob had. He was undisputably one of the most influential people in hostas, and he will be remembered for many years to come for the creation of the HostaLibrary.

   Back in 1999, when the hosta world was still learning the importance of the internet, Bob had an idea. He would build a website where people could share photos of named hostas. A website that catalogued all the hostas, where people could go to see what they looked like in an era of catalog descriptions with few pictures of the plants to be seen anywhere.
   It was to be a site for everyone, and like the internet itself, he brought together people from all over the world. Bob dove into the work with gusto, adding pages and photos by the hundreds, building and building as people from around the world contributed photos. His HostaLibrary built a sense of world community that had us all feeling a part of something bigger. He thankfully ignored the few detractors (Yes, there were some) and continued every year to build the greatest plant site on the internet. These days it averages over 1,000 separate visitors a day.
   The HostaLibrary soon became the world's top hosta resource. Pages were linked to Hugo Philips' database. W. George Schmid contributed his great work on hosta species, and many others added information as well.
   Over the years complications from his spinal injuries led to multiple surgeries and chronic pain, but he persevered in his work on the HostaLibrary, even holding contests to encourage more photo contributions. Photos came in by the hundreds as the numbers of new hostas blossomed in the new century, and Bob added page after page to accommodate them. Over the years he spent thousands of hours building his contribution to the hosta world, a level of contribution few could match. He was awarded the American Hosta Society's highest honor, the Alex J. Summers Award, in 2010.

   Bob wasn't one for meetings or societies, preferring a quieter, more private life. Even though he became one of the best-known people in the hosta world, virtually no one even knew what he looked like, and it became a popular joke on the forums to post pictures of possible Bob sightings. In those early days of the internet forums, Bob was always there, always enthusiastic, always friendly and willing to help.
   His love for hostas and other plants was great, exceeded only by his love for his family. He made many friends over the years, and those of us who knew Bob always felt a part of the Axmear family, because every conversation would include talk of his wife Mary and of how his daughters were doing.
   About a year ago, it was becoming too difficult for him to keep up with the loads of photos contributors were sending, and we pitched in to help getting them into the Library. We've been involved in helping with the Library since the beginning, and were happy to take to the keyboard. Bob still worked on the Library too, doing what he could, including the daily changing background photos on the front page.
   While the HostaLibrary's great workhorse needed a well-deserved rest, we never thought he was so close to leaving us. There is a huge hole in the hosta world where Bob used to be, one that will never truly close, but his HostaLibrary will go on. We have everything we need to keep it up and moving forward and upward. Bob's legacy will go on and someday when we are no longer up to the job of being the librarians, we're sure someone else will step up.
   Anyone who ever received an email from Bob is familiar with his trademark signature. As far back as we can remember, he always ended them with "Bye Bob". Just this once, we say it back.

       Bye Bob, and thanks so much for what you brought into the world, it is our true honor to carry on.

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