Fred, Sr. and Louise ran their nursery together until Fred, Sr.’s death in 1969. Because of Fred’s ill health in the last few years of his life, the nursery suffered some decline during that time. In 1970 grandson Bob graduated from Florida State University, and after graduation returned to Homestead and began a massive cleanup and renovation of the nursery. He brought in plants from his own collection, which had been housed at another site, and R.F. Orchids opened for business in December of that year. At that time, Bob’s official profession was teaching at Homestead Junior High, and the nursery was open only on weekends and afternoons after school. Juggling both commitments was quite an effort.
1984 brought the attention of orchid growers around the world to Miami, for the 11th World Orchid Conference and its prestigious orchid show. Much of that attention focused on R.F. Orchids when our plants won 12 individual medals and our exhibit won a Best In Class trophy. And most important of all, R.F. Orchids’ plant Vanda Deva ‘Robert’ was honored as the Grand Champion of the11WOC. This award catapulted us into international recognition and acceptance as one of the leading vandaceous orchid firms in the world.
Bob retired from teaching in 1985 and incorporated the nursery. The nursery participates in several dozen orchid shows each year, many of them international shows outside the United States. Bob has written many articles for publication in Orchids, the prestigious magazine of the American Orchid Society, and in other distinguished international publications.
An accredited American Orchid Society judge, he travels extensively throughout the world to attend orchid shows, present lectures and programs to orchid societies and other groups, and he is the author of the section on “Vanda Culture” in the American Orchid Society’s Handbook on Orchid Culture.
R.F. Orchids celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2010. In the years since the nursery’s founding, it has won more American Orchid Society awards – more than 1,100 since 1985 – than any other nursery or individual grower. Those awards include more CCM/AOS awards for culture, given to the grower and not to the plant, than have been awarded to any other orchid grower in the world. Our plants have also won many FCC/AOS awards – the First Class Certificate, the highest flower-quality award the AOS grants, and Bob’s stunning show exhibits have won thirty Gold Medals, and forty-eight Show Trophies from the American Orchid Society for the Most Outstanding Orchid Exhibit at an AOS-sanctioned show.
The awards don’t stop with the American Orchid Society. R. F. Orchids has been recognized with prestigious awards from the Royal Horticultural Society in England, World
Orchid Conferences, the Japan Grand Prix, South African Orchid Congress Shows, and from orchid societies in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru .
The nursery has been featured in many national and international publications, including TIME, National Geographic, the New York Times, Casa y Estilo, Vanidades, and Southern Living, as well as local and regional newspapers and magazines.
Bob is a life member and former trustee of the American Orchid Society, life member of the Royal Horticultural Society of Thailand, member of the Royal Horticultural Society in England, past president and board member of the South Florida Orchid Society; founding member and past president of the East Everglades Orchid Society. In 1994 the South Florida Orchid Society presented him with its Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the Homestead-Florida City Chamber of Commerce, and a generous supporter of the education and conservation programs at Miami MetroZoo. In October, 1999, the City of Homestead presented Bob with the Key to The City, and proclaimed Robert Fuchs Day, in recognition of his dedication, hard work and contributions to the improvement of the horticulture industry in our community. In January, 2001, Bob was named Miami-Dade County’s Agriculturalist of the Year.
In the fall of 2002, Bob was appointed Co-Chairman of the 19th World Orchid Conference, in January, 2008 in Miami. Held once every three years in a different international location, the World Orchid Conference is the largest and most prestigious gathering of orchid professionals, scientists, growers and hobbyists. The 19th World Orchid Conference was hosted jointly by the South Florida Orchid Society and the Ft. Lauderdale Orchid Society at the Sheraton Miami Mart Convention Center.
In February, 2012, Bob was honored as the first orchid grower to be inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame. For a video chronicling Bob’s accomplishments, visit the Hall’s website.
In 2014, Bob was elected as a Trustee of the World Orchid Conference Trust, and to the Board of Trustees of the American Orchid Society.