1946: H.E. Gilkey, Garden Show Architect, Sued by Wife

[ from the Oakland Post-Enquirer, May 8, 1946. ]

A petition for separate maintenance against Howard E. Gilkey, designer and director of Oakland’s famed California Spring Garden Show, was filed today in Alameda County Superior Court by Mrs. Margaret H. Gilkey.

Mrs. Gilkey charged that Gilkey caused her mental suffering by repeated acts of cruelty. They were married at Reno April 30, 1942. The couple separated May 5.

Mrs. Gilkey accused Gilkey of “assuming a domineering and dictatorial attitude towards her.”

On several occasions, she charged, he threatened her if she did not do as he ordered her, declaring he would get a divorce.


On other occasions, she alleged, he told her he did not care for her any more and was going to sue for divorce. On May 5, last, the date of separation, he told her he was leaving her, she charged. She added, according to the complaint:

“He told me he was leaving and would never live with me again or support me as he no longer needed me or my help.”


The plaintiff, represented by Errol C. Gilkey, Oakland attorney, not related, seeks an equitable share of the family property including a home at 99 El Camino Real, Berkeley.

The Gilkeys have no children.

Gilkey, 56, began his horticultural career in 1907 and 1908 when he worked as a gardener with the famed “plant wizard,” Luther Burbank.


During 1914 and 1915, while he was attending the University of California—he was graduated in 1916—he acted as assistant to a landscape designer who was superintendent of horticulture for the Panama Pacific International Exhibition.

Gilkey was twice associated with Mills College, first as an instructor in 1916 and 1917, and later, from 1922 to 1926, as consultant for landscaping and gardening on campus.

During World War I he was an assistant engineer in charge of orders and requisitions for the planning department of the firm engaged in construction of shipyards in Alameda.

For 18 months, in 1919 and 1920, Gilkey served as a payroll clerk for the Oakland Board of Education. Later he served on a year’s appointment as a substitute high school teacher in the Oakland Public Schools.

In 1921 and 1922, he was city park engineer and acting city planning engineer for the City of Oakland.

Since that time, Gilkey as devoted his time to the private practice of his profession. He held many commissions throughout the state connected with public parks and institutions.


For a number of years he was consultant for the Alameda County Institutions Commission, planning and supervising the landscaping of the grounds of Highland-Alameda County and Fairmont hospitals as well as other public institutions.

Gilkey was retained by Kern County for several years as a consultant on the county park system.

Later, he traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, studying park systems and landscaping.

In the early 1930s he served as work-relief employee of the WPA and supervised a project employing 3500 persons engaged in the renovation of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Later he was associated for a time with Golden Gate International Exposition.

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