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Published: Friday, 7/27/2007

Her garden on hillside was a tourist attraction

DELTA, Ohio - Dorothy L. Dunbar, 88, who with her husband, Delbert, created a hillside flower garden so spectacular that motorists slowed and tour buses swung by for a view, died Tuesday in Blanchard Valley Hospital, Findlay, from complications of a strangulated hernia.

She lived since 1994 at the Meadows of Leipsic, Ohio.

The Dunbars moved into the former Presbyterian manse on Adrian Street in Delta in the 1940s. In the late 1950s, they landscaped the hillside behind the home, hiring a contractor to terrace the slope.

The couple each year turned the hillside, with its 40-foot drop, into a riot of color.

Mr. Dunbar did the planting, taking two days to put in thousands of petunias, marigolds, zinnias, and other annuals. Adding to the flowerscape were 200 rose bushes and 300 tuberous begonias.

"I let Mrs. Dunbar do the color arranging in the wall garden," Mr. Dunbar told The Blade in 1969. She also was responsible for weeding and cultivating.

The hillside was such an attraction that traffic on State Rt. 2 sometimes slowed to a near-stop. Gardeners visited from England, Germany, India, and Japan.

"It turned into a magnificent piece of work," said son-in-law Lee Callahan. "Everybody thought it was a park. People would stop by, even bus loads of people would stop by, to look at the garden."

As they grew older, the couple hired high school students to help plant and tend the garden.

The Dunbars moved in early 1993 and new owners did not continue the garden, Mr. Callahan said.

Mrs. Dunbar was a longtime member of the Delta Garden Club. Mr. Dunbar was a former president of the Men's Garden Club of America. Both were in Toledo Rose Society.

She was a graduate of Liberty Center High School. Her husband became vice president of Dunbar Drilling Inc. and, early in his career, she accompanied him on business trips.

She was a former member of Delta United Methodist Church. "That was important to her - her religion," Mr. Callahan said.

The Dunbars married in 1942. He died in August, 1993. She married Gerald Dailey in 1995. He died in 1999.

Surviving are her daughters, DeeAnn Callahan and Cheryl German; brothers, Weldon, Burdette, and Delmar Frysinger; sisters, Wylodene Baughman and Jeanette Harms; four grandsons, and six great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, Findlay, where visitation begins at 10 a.m. The Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay, is handling arrangements. The family suggests tributes to Leipsic United Methodist Church, of which she was a member.

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