EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - To have a rose named after you in Tyler, the city of roses, has to be an ultimate honor. It's an honor that Shirley Staples never expected, but fully deserves.
Many roses are named after celebrities, while others, like "Miracle on the Hudson" may be named after acts of courage.
Now Shirley Staples isn't as famous as Miranda Lambert or as publicized as the plane that went down in the Hudson River, but what she's done for the area's rose industry has benefited us all.
Shirley has spent her entire life surrounded by roses.
"My dad grew roses before I was born," she said.
While roses are the oldest flowering plant known to man, dating back a million years, in Tyler, roses have a special meaning.
"Back before World War Two, everyone here had what we called a little patch of roses," said Shirley.
After the war, the rose industry flourished in East Texas, with over 50 growers setting up commercial businesses.
After finishing business school, Shirley went to work for 'Certified Roses' in 1959.
"My first job here was, I would just type invoices, things like that," Shirley explained.
When the company's salesman quit, Shirley was sent out on the road to introduce Tyler roses to the rest of the country.
She introduced them so well that Certified's customers now come from all over the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
Shirley became president of Certified Roses in 2007.
"I didn't ever dream that I would be working for a rose nursery all my life." said Shirley.
Even though there are only a few growers still in the business in East Texas, Certified ships out over three million rose plants annually.
"We have a big customer base with packaged and dormant roses. We also have a big customer base for container roses," Shirley said.
After 57 years at Certified Roses, Shirley Staples is retiring. A fragrant white tea rose, developed by Certified, has officially been named after her.
"It is quite an honor but I didn't feel I deserved it," Shirley said.
But who better to name a rose after than Shirley Staples, who has introduced our most beloved flower to thousands and thousands of people.
With 13 grandchildren, it won't be hard for Shirley to fill her time after retiring.