It is with great sadness that I report my wife and Plant Delights Nursery co-owner, Michelle Avent, 55, passed away after a brave four year battle with a very aggressive form of metastatic breast cancer. Michelle was a Raleigh native who attended Needham Broughton High School, followed by a brief and chilly stint at Appalachian State University before enrolling in NC State University. Michelle and I attended junior high together, but only met and began dating in high school, marrying four years later on December 30, 1977…just in time to follow NCSU to the 1977 Peach Bowl in Atlanta for our honeymoon.
Michelle and I were fortunate to work together for eleven years at our part time job at the Mission Valley Cinema near NC State University. To support our family further, Michelle dropped out of NC State to work full time, first at the NCSU Genetics Lab, and later at the NCSU Student Supply Store. Her career next led her to the Instrument Society of America, where she remained until 1993, when she became the first full-time employee of our fledgling mail order nursery, Plant Delights.
Michelle continued her college work by taking evening classes, finally completing her Bachelors degree in communications from NCSU in 1996. The late Dr. J.C. Raulston was so inspired by Michelle’s persistence that he joined her in her final college class, the Study of Film History, and subsequently presented her with a specially made original painting to celebrate her achievement…just prior to his untimely death only a few weeks later.
As newlyweds, we supplemented our regular jobs by cleaning out garages and attics and selling these wares at the local flea market, along with plants we raised in our small home greenhouse. Our venture evolved as we expanded our growing operation into a neighbor’s small back lot and moved our plant sales to our home driveway. Michelle wasn’t a plant person and was initially incredulous at the idea that people would buy plants through the mail. Despite her reservations, she charged ahead with setting up our business systems…between plant potting and watering. It was Michelle’s knowledge of computers, office organizational system skills, and publishing that was responsible for Plant Delights Nursery getting off to such a great start.
Michelle’s big smile and engaging personality led her to instantly become friends with most everyone she met, whether on our travels, supervising employees, or working the cashier desk at our nursery Open House.
As a wife, Michelle was my soulmate, my sounding board, my best friend, and the balance in a life where obsession could easily get out of hand. I and the Plant Delights staff will continue Michelle’s dream, building on the great foundation she left for us. On Michelle’s behalf, I’d like to thank each and everyone of you for your continued support of our venture and I hope those of you who knew Michelle will treasure her memory through conversations you’ve had with her as well as through the PDN plants in your garden.
Michelle is survived by her husband, Tony, four brothers; W. Chris Morgan of Raleigh and his wife Kay, J.P. (Jay) Morgan of Garner, twin brother Mike E. Morgan of Missouri and Roger N. Morgan of Elizabeth City, NC; nieces Amanda English and husband Matthew of Wallace, NC, Laura Morgan of Garner, Carly and Kelly Morgan of Scottsdale, AZ, Hilary Morgan of Elizabeth City, NC; nephews Daniel Morgan and wife Tina and daughter Mary Beth of Willow Springs, Gregory and wife Angela of Wichita Falls, TX, and Kyle Morgan of Scottsdale, AZ; cousin Karen Clevenger of Holly Springs; and four cats, Ruby, Pearl, Zirconia, and Henry, all of the home. Michelle was preceeded in death by her father, J.P. Morgan, mother Mary Jo Holder Morgan, and two cats, Mystic and Diamond.
Our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Mark Graham and the wonderful staff of Waverly Hematology/Oncology for their great work treating Michelle. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to The V-Foundation for Cancer Research, The Susan B. Komen Foundation, Hospice of Wake County or the JC Raulston Arboretum. I hope you will all join me in the effort to wipe out breast cancer in our lifetime. Later this year, we will announce a cancer shirt design to help fund the fight…more in a later newsletter.
Visitation with the family will be on Tuesday, February 14, from 6-8pm at Bryan Lee Funeral Home, 1200 Benson Road, Garner, NC 27529 (phone 919.772.8225). We hope you will post your comments and thoughts on our Facebook page.