Ralph Colborne died peacefully in his home in Jonathon, N.C., on Sept. 28, 2020, following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 83 years old.
Mahlon was born in Collingwood Corner, Nova Scotia, to Garnet and Gladys (Hunter) Colborne as the eighth of nine children. He attended a one-room schoolhouse for 10 years before graduating from Oxford Regional High School.
In 1955, Mahlon moved to Long Island, New York, to live with his uncle, Mahlon Hunter. His first job was at a garden center, starting off on his career as a horticulturist for the next fifty years.
From 1969 to 1978 until its closing, Mahlon was the Director of Horticulture at Sterling Forest Gardens, a large ornamental garden outside of Tuxedo, New York.
Following Sterling Forest, he worked at Devitt’s Garden Center, eventually retiring as Vice President and Manager of Devitt’s Wholesale Nursery and Supply.
Being draft age in the 1950’s, Mahlon was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, being chosen to be the personal chauffeur for General Creighton Abrams, for whom the Abrams Tank was later named.
Upon returning home, Mahlon joined the U.S. Naval Reserves.
After retiring in 1996, Mahlon and Elizabeth moved to Maggie Valley, North Carolina, where he started a nursery stock locator service for a broker in New England.
He was a member of the Waynesville Kiwanis Club, following being one of the first Kiwanians to start the Chester, N.Y., Kiwanis Club in the 1970’s. Mahlon was very proud of his involvement with Kiwanis, being a second-generation member and inducting both his son and daughter into Kiwanis as well.
Throughout his life, he was civically active, serving on many boards and commissions, including spending his early retirement actively working with Haywood Habitat for Humanity building homes.
Mahlon enjoyed fishing, golfing, and wood carving, along with maintaining the landscaping around their home.
Mahlon is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth; two children: Marnette Colborne of Waynesville, North Carolina, and David Colborne and his wife Christine, of Siler City, North Carolina; three grandchildren: Christopher, Emily and Paige; brother Keith Colborne (Kingston, Ontario); two sisters, Ena Chiasson (Clearwater, B.C.), and Muriel Wetherbee (Springhill, N.S.); brother John Colborne (Miramichi, N.B.); and numerous nieces and nephews.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life will be planned for a future date. A graveside service was held Oct. 3 at Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville, N.C.
In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.
The care of Mr. Colborne has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Homes.
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