Nonya Stevens Wright, 75, of Berwyn, a landscape designer, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, on May 17 at home.
Mrs. Wright operated a landscape design business in Berwyn from the early 1970s until she retired in the late 1990s. Many of her clients lived at retirement communities in units with limited outdoor space. For them, she created miniature gardens that were described as "little jewels," said her husband, Minturn. If the clients became too frail to tend the gardens, he added, she did it for them.
She never recommended a plant that she couldn't grow, and experimented with numerous species on the couple's 31/2-acre property. "Every square inch was taken up," her husband said.
Mrs. Wright grew up in Chestnut Hill and graduated from Milton Academy in Massachusetts. She earned a bachelor's degree from Vassar College, where she studied the history of art and architecture. The subjects became a major focus in her life, her husband said.
The couple married in 1957. After their four children were in school, Mrs. Wright took horticulture and botany courses at Temple University's Ambler campus. She would have earned a master's degree, her husband said, but she refused to take the required chemistry course.
Mrs. Wright served on the board of the nonprofit Nicholas Newlin Foundation, which maintains Newlin Grist Mill and its 150 acres in Glen Mills. She also chaired the gardens and grounds committee.
She was very proud of her ancestor Joseph Smith Harris, who in the 1850s and 1860s surveyed the 49th parallel, which defines much of the U.S.-Canadian border. She donated Harris' papers to the Pennsylvania Historical Society.
Mrs. Wright enjoyed visiting museums and gardens on frequent travels abroad with her husband. She especially admired Japanese art and culture, he said.
Her ALS was diagnosed more than three years ago, and she volunteered for research programs to improve treatment. She hoped that her participation would benefit others and help lead to a cure, her husband said.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Wright is survived by sons Minturn, Richard and Robert; a daughter, Marian; a brother; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at noon June 7 at St. David's Episcopal Church, 763 S. Valley Rd., Wayne.