Passing of Duane Heier, Steamboat Island Nursery

Today I have some sad news to relate. I have already posted this on a few message boards, but as the need is continuing I will repost it here.

Many of you will know Laine and Duane at Steamboat Island Nursery, having purchased some of the unusual and exotic plants they have offered over the years from their small specialty nursery in Olympia. The sad news is that Duane has passed away last week from injuries incurred when he was struck by a Sound Transit train on his way to the Mariner’s season opener on April 8. I have been asked to pass along this news to anyone in the local horticulture/gardening community who knows them or is interested in helping in some way. They are hoping to be able to provide some much needed financial assistance for Laine, and are accepting donations to this end to the nursery address, 8424 Steamboat Island Road, Olympia, WA 98502. Quoting the article linked below (which see), “An account to cover funeral costs was created at Twin Star Credit Union, P.O. Box 718, Olympia, WA 98507-0718. Checks should be made to “Laine McLaughlin” and the memo line should say “Duane Heier” and account #411133-00.” If you want to talk donations, or donate cash, talk to Jay Higgins at You can also send messages to Laine directly to the nursery email:

If donating money isn’t your thing, you can support the nursery (and hence Laine) by buying their plants. I am not entirely certain which regional plant sales they will be at in the near future – they are not on the list of vendors for Florabundance, which is this weekend, but if I find out any more sales where they will be represented, I will post it here. You can also seek out Steamboat Island Nursery Plants available from this list of nurseries, thus supporting them indirectly.

This article from the Seattle Times provides more details about what happened and how you can help cover expenses related to the accident.

So let’s remember Duane and keep Laine and the Steamboat Island Nursery staff in our thoughts through this difficult time. I may have to make some editions/corrections to this post as I find out more. Thanks for reading.


Steamboat Island Nursery at my last visit, September 2008.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Riz
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 01:41:56

    So heartbreaking. Thank you for taking the time to update us and fill us in during this tough time.


  2. Laine McLaughlin
    Apr 29, 2013 @ 23:51:28

    Thank you, Ian for your thoughtful post. Right now I don’t know what plant sales I will be attending. Pamela Harlow of Botanica is taking some plants to the KIng County Master Gardener sale this weekend, May 3-5. I still don’t have the keys to Duane’s station wagon so hauling plants is problematic (Duane would never want me to put plants in his Le Baron convertible! Besides it doesn’t hold much.)
    I like seeing your photo of the nursery. That Eucalyptus lacrimans is gone. The nursery looks so tidy in the picture!
    While I was in Seattle after Duane’s accident, friends and former employees cleaned up the nursery, planted kangaroo apples and Cinnabar marigolds and got plants ready for the Rhododendron Species Foundation sale. Then the three former employees, Jay Higgins, Charlie Baughman and Stuart Robertson, did the sale for me. I am amazed by the support I have received (and continue to receive).
    The white Rhododendron macrophyllum I got from you is blooming for the first time.
    I hope you have a wonderful year with your nursery and your family.


    • Riz
      May 01, 2013 @ 23:36:16

      My warm thoughts and prayers to you. I regret not being able to see you at all this season and then hearing the news of Duane’s passing was really hard to believe. I’m so sorry.

      I hope you’re hanging in there. You’ve got a wonderful community here that truly love you and will help you through.

      Ian, I hope you don’t mind I copy and paste the links and contact info on my blog so people can make a contribution and help in any way they can.



  3. Ian
    May 01, 2013 @ 13:52:34

    Laine, thanks for the well wishes. If you would like me to help announce or spread the word about anything else, just let me know. Wish I could help in some other way, but distance is kind of a challenge – if there were a way you could get me some plants to try to sell for you, I’d be glad to do that, but I am not able to get away to Olympia in the next few weeks. I know it’s not much, but I did buy one of your Cephalotaxus at the RSBG sale 🙂 Take care.


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