Every spring morning, Stanley Bachman got out of bed at 4 a.m. to pick carnations in the greenhouse for the family floral business.
"It was so dark, he could only see the white flowers to pick," said his son Paul Bachman. "Then he milked cows and got dressed to go to school."
Bachman's love for plants took root as he climbed the ranks at the family-owned Minneapolis floral and garden center business on Lyndale Avenue, launched by his grandfather Henry Bachman in 1885.
As a member of the third generation of Bachmans, Stanley was president from 1971 until 1989, when he retired.
Bachman, who focused on retail, dramatically grew the business by opening free-standing Bachman's gift and floral stores in Southdale and other malls. He also collaborated with Dayton's on the first auditorium Flower Show in 1963. Today Bachman's has six Twin Cities floral and garden centers and a 670-acre nursery and landscape center in Lakeville.
Stanley Bachman's integrity and friendly demeanor were among the reasons for his success, said family members. "Dad was extremely well-liked by employees and had a real knack for remembering people's names and asking about their families," said Paul, who retired from Bachman's last year.
Bachman, 93, died on July 15 at Friendship Village in Bloomington.
He was born in 1924 in a big house on the Bachman family acreage on Lyndale Avenue, where the flagship garden center stands today.
After graduating from Washburn High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1941 and worked on a transport ship in the Pacific. He never forgot the destruction he witnessed when going on shore after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, said Paul.
When Bachman was on leave, he met Georgia "GeeGee," who was attending the University of Minnesota.
"They just fell for each other," said Paul Bachman. The couple married in 1948 and raised two sons in Richfield.
Upon returning from his tour of duty, Stanley had planned to pursue a different career, "but Stan realized the value and beauty of plants, flowers and trees," said Dale Bachman, the current CEO. "He said it was the best choice he ever made by re-entering the family business."
Stanley Bachman served as a mentor to ambitious employees. He hired Dick Herberg, then a teenager, to work at the Lyndale store. He eventually became the COO, remaining with the company for 47 years.
"Stan taught me ethics and to always supply the best products for customers," Herberg said.
He also was a stickler for details.
"Dad would walk into a store and find the one plant that hadn't been watered," said Paul Bachman.
Active in many retail florist organizations, he was elected to the Society of American Florists Hall of Fame in 1989 for his many contributions.
"Stan was always available to give other florists advice to help them succeed," said Peter Moran, CEO of the society.
After retirement, he served as chairman of the board of directors and continued to plant and maintain his vast vegetable and flower gardens in his Richfield yard.
In their 60s, Stanley and Georgia started golfing and took frequent golfing trips until Georgia's death in 2014.
Even at age 90, Bachman was tending the gardens on the grounds of Friendship Village senior housing.
"Stan was more than just a smart businessman," said Herberg. "He was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet on this Earth."
Bachman is survived by his two sons, Paul and Peter, four grandchildren, a sister, Betty, and sister-in-law, Margaret. Services have been held.