The Thames River Garden Club had its beginning in 1954 with the assistance of the New London Garden Club, which had a full membership, but recognized that there were more women interested in the initiatives and activities that garden clubs accomplish.  Elizabeth Wagner, a member of the New London Garden Club, was a driving force in the establishment of the new club; her niece, Betty Starbuck, was its first president.  The club organized according to The Federated Garden Club of Connecticut rules, and the name The Thames River Garden Club was proposed by Evelyn (Lefty) MacDougall who remained a member of the club until her death in April 2018.  The original membership comprised fifteen women.

The club membership is now sixty-two active men and women members and eleven privileged members, who come from throughout eastern Connecticut.  Monthly meetings are now held at the Waterford Public Library.

The club has been active in the community over the years, once purchasing a lion for the Bates Woods Zoo and also planting trees in Bates Woods Park in New London.  Other civic contributions included planting trees on Captains’ Walk in New London and maintaining the Terry Wilmot herb garden at the historic 1838 Beebe-Phillips House in Waterford.  We have active garden therapy programs at York Correctional Institution in Niantic and New London Acute Rehabilitation and Care. Annually, we make philanthropic contributions to numerous local organizations, primarily those involved in horticultural or environmental endeavors.  For over two decades, we have held a very successful plant sale each spring at the Waterford Town Hall.

Past Presidents


  • Mrs. Raymond Starbuck, 1954-55
  • Mrs. David Kimball, 1955-56
  • Mrs. Frank Cole, 1956-57
  • Mrs. Frederick Goodrich, 1957-58
  • Mrs. Tage Nielsen, 1958-61


  • Mrs. Fredereick Hartman, 1961-63
  • Mr. Joseph Castanza, 1964-65
  • Mrs. Stanley Peterson, 1965-67
  • Mrs. Hugh Lena, 1967-69
  • Mrs. Miles Imlay, 1969-71


  • Mrs. Richard Loiacono, 1971-72
  • Mrs. Charles Wilmot, 1972-73
  • Mrs. Phillip Pfeil, 1973-76
  • Mrs. Henry Brown, 1976-78
  • Mrs. Gilbert Leib, 1978-79
  • Mrs. Crombie Dallin, 1979-80


  • Mrs. Hugh Lusk, 1980-82
  • Mrs. Alan Roessler, 1982-84
  • Mrs. Richard Brent, 1984-86
  • Mrs. Vincent Longo, 1986-88
  • Mrs. Bruce Gathy, 1988-90


  • Mrs. Everett Homolka, 1990-92
  • Mrs. Louis Esposito, 1992-94
  • Mrs. Wilfred Benoit, 1994-96
  • Mrs. William Kowenhoven, 1996-98
  • Mrs. William Crawford, 1998-00


  • Mrs. Robert Kelly, 2000-02
  • Mrs. Antonio Toledo, 2002-04
  • Mrs. Douglas Teeson, 2004-06
  • Mrs. Thomas English, 2006-07
  • Mrs. James Fleishell, 2007-08
  • Mrs. Leon Calanquin, 2008
  • Mrs. William Crawford, 2008-09
  • Mrs. Louis Esposito, 2008-09
  • Mrs. David Clark, 2009-11


  • Mrs. Warren B. Chapman, III, 2011-13
  • Mrs. Michael Nauer , 2013-15
  • Mr. Everett Munro, 2015-17
  • Mrs. William Kramer, 2017-19
  • Mrs. John Lombardi, 2019-22