Waldemar Scheliga
1914 - 2003

Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo

  Waldemar Scheliga was part of the orchidophily family of the state of Rio de Janeiro since the time of the Sociedade Brasileira de Orquidófilos (Brazilian Society of Orchidophilics).
He was one of the associate-founders of the our local society OrquidaRIO and has always been an active contributor of the magazine Orquidário, since the beginning of its publication in many ways, translating, writing his own texts, participating in the editorial committee or even giving tips and telling his secret of fertilization.
He really encouraged the interchange between Germany, Switzerland and Brazil.
His contribution has been fundamental in the diffusion of the Brazilian works in those countries as well as in the diffusion of works originally published in German written by some researchers such as Rudolf Jenny, Karlheinz Senghas, Irene Bock, between others.
Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
  Besides to do the contacts, he did the translations of the texts. Recently (in 2001), a new Brazilian species of Galeandra chapadensis Campacci (also presented in this issue) had his original publication did in the magazine Die Orchidee due to the translation and contacts promoted by him.
  During 47 years, he was the Sale Manager of Bayer do Brasil and retired in 1982.
He cultivated orchids for almost 60 years and his favorite was Cattleya maxima, however he had an eclectic collection.
Waldemar was a skilled grower and was the image of the most important quality for an orchid grower: the patience. He waited for almost 20 years to see his Calista densiflora (or Dendrobium densiflorum) wonderfully blooming with 46 inflorescences.
In 1993, Alexis Sauer paid homage to him giving his name to a hybrid: Laeliocattleya Waldemar Scheliga, a cross of Laelia lobata and Laeliocattleya Canhamiana.
In a very good mood, in interview to Orchid News # 14, he told how has been the foundation of OrquidaRIO.
Photo/Foto: Scheliga's private collection
Photo date of October l987, from his private collection
  Photo/Foto: Scheliga's private collection Everything started with the board of the old Sociedade Brasileira de Orquidófilos which remained in the power for 8 years. According to Mr. Scheliga, many associates were upset thinking that everything was too much neglected, with little interest and that the meets did not teach anything to the companions. So a group of 37 associates, included him, decided that, in the next election, they would elect a new board and they composed a slate called "Renovation" in which Siegwald Odebrecht (Zico da Florália) took part. However with a subterfuge, the old board succeeded in being reelected. The meeting would take place at 20 h. and the board arrived soon, did the election and won by two votes.
  Photo/Foto: Scheliga's private collection Those two votes came from two companions who went back on their own word. So, Mr. Scheliga and his group did not succeed in doing a new board. They felt very sad and went to Bar Luiz (traditional restaurant in Rio de Janeiro city ) to drink some beers to forget the "grief". Right there, they founded the new society, right there, every thing was decided. So, in 1986, OrquidaRIO was born, inside Bar Luiz, with this group drinking beer and eating potatoes salad. The first meetings of the new society took place in Luiz Clemente Ferreira de Souza's ranch. Then, they have been transferred to Sorocaba street, Tico-Tico School (owned by Carlos Eduardo de Britto Pereira's mother) where the members sat in very very small seats for children. They stayed there for some years. Until there, Waldemar's presence and activities were constant.
  After that, the meetings have been transferred to 19 de Fevereiro street and by this time, with health problems, unfortunately, his presence became rarely. Finally, when OrchidaRIO got the new headquarters, at Visconde de Inhaúma street, he just went for a few times and did not have the opportunity of enjoying this so important conquest of the society he loved so much.
He occupied many functions inside the society, vice-president, from 1989 to 1992, temporary responsible for Researches, Cultivation and Courses Department (l990), President of the Council from l992 to l994 and member of the Editorial Commission since l992 until 2000.
Besides, he put himself at the disposal of Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro, for a while, to take care of the orchids nursery promoting its recuperation and enlarging the collection.
Brief, he was an extremely polite affable good temper person and everything, he did, he did with strong vitality, showing resolution , seriousness and dedication. He involved himself in the study of orchids as if he had a long way to be go through and not as a person who was about to celebrate 90 years.
Photo/Foto: Scheliga's private collection
Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
With an almost young enthusiasm, he was interested in recent publications, adopting the alterations of nomenclature, loved keeping in touch with people who, like him, were fond of orchids, even with those who know less than him.
Even with the difficulties he faced due to advanced aged and rarely coming to the meeting at OrquidaRIO, he went on actively participating in the magazine, translating text from German publications and being a member of the Deliberative Council.
Waldemar Scheliga knew how to do friends and conquer admirers.

Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
Notebook with his notes

  Raimundo Mesquita statement:

Farewell to Waldemar Scheliga.

Once, I heard a friend of Waldemar, that he treated his plants as the same discipline of Prussian sergeant, no bulb or leave out of place. The sympodial growth should be done in the direction he wanted, it means, towards, looking for the apposite border of the pot... Nothing of the anarchist freedom that the plants, sometimes, give to themselves.
That may have been, the best description of this descendant of German people, German himself at the minimal details who disciplined everything in his life, even his own death, leaving, in writing, to his two children, Guilherme and Heloisa, instruction regarding what to do with his books and his plants, including me, for my pride, between the counselors they should ask for advice.
Great Waldemar!
One of the founders of OrquidaRIO, he cooperated with it until the eve of his death. The readers of Orquidário will still read, for a while, translations of texts of his friends and German Language authors, texts that, he, with great humor, sent to me, asking: Now, translate into Brazilian Portuguese.
In spite of this rigor, he was a person of enormous good faith because he believed in people. I could mention some cases in which he got involved in polemic and difficult situations, exactly because of this way of being. However, it is useless since many of those people are still alive.
We became friends all along years of conviviality and enriched apprenticeship to me since he was a man without mysteries and without selfishness secret: he knew, he taught
He did not have the fool pretension of being owner of a rarity (how many he had...). He shared, giving cut of plants very easily provided he was sure that the person was a good growers and would not kill the plant.
Now he has gone and should be cultivating, somewhere, his favorite plants Cattleya máxima, Vanda coerulea, Phayus, Dendrobium moniliforme, Cymbidium Allegria and some more.
His society, OrquidaRIO, paid two homages to him: first, conferring, post -mortem, the title of the most distinguished member and, demonstrating the recognition of his work in favor of raising the level of intellectual quality of the association, gave to its library the name of Waldemar Scheliga


Carlos Antonio Akselrud de Gouveia statement:

Waldemar Scheliga

When I arrived at OrquidaRIO, coming from SBO, it had already two years of foundation. Thus, I met many orchid growers who fascinated a beginner like me. Talkative and communicative, Hans Frank, Alex Sauer and Álvaro Peixoto got our attention with their histories (and stories) and advice. Then I found out a gentleman, with gentle talk and soft tone, not to much talkative who withhold a fantastic cultivation. Scheliga had plants that nobody had, he succeeded to make flower plants considered as very difficult. Which was the secret?
As time goes by, once broke the inhibition, I could verify that there was no secret. Scheliga never dodged talk about his cultivation or gave suggestions about our problems. With him I started to succeed in cultivating Vanda and Ascocenda, Waldemar taught the way to cultivate orchids from Amazonas regions and taught me to place a plant in a pot (people used to say that he put more stakes than bulbs in a pot but nobody could deny the efficiency of his cares).
His secret was simple. Discipline, organization, dedication and passion for the plants were the base, however the study, the persistence and the method generated the real differential. With him I learnt the value of the patience and the apprenticeship by attempt.
One day, I was talked with him about a species, some of them that nobody has or even knows, an Orleanesia, and mentioned that I was succeeding in mounted it in a slab of xaxim. Some time later, Scheliga met me and said:
- You were right! I mounted an Orleanesia and it is going very well, better than in a pot.
To me, it was the glory, to have a suggestion accepted by our senior, was too much. But, in fact, it was a master lesson: we always have something to learn, poor person who thinks he is the owner of the knowledge.
Ah, Waldemar, we really miss you...
OrquidaRIO, the Brazilian orchidophily will never be the same without your presence, your culture and your knowledge.