In Celebration of Oonagh and John Boppart | Desert Botanical Garden


It is with great sadness that Desert Botanical Garden shares with you the passing of  Oonagh and John Boppart.

John and Oonagh were married in 1979. They were life-long learners; their curiosity and diverse interests led them to travel extensively and interact with different cultures, music and art. Their combined passion for arts, culture, education and the sciences inspired them to support numerous organizations throughout the state. Their contributions in both leadership and financial commitments can be felt throughout the Valley’s arts and cultural organizations.

The Bopparts have been Garden supporters for nearly 30 years, active Patrons Circle donors since 1995 and members of the Sonoran Circle legacy society. Every Friday since 2010, Oonagh volunteered as an Envoy at the Membership Kiosk, greeting visitors and encouraging them to join. In 2015, John became a volunteer, working in the Herbarium where he was instrumental in keeping the specimen database, loans and exchanges running. John was a true gentleman and was always kind, gracious, easygoing and humble, with good stories to share about his life. 

2007 Dig It Celebration -Duzik, Ailes-Fine, McKeever, Boppart, Hare, Ahearn, Swanson, Kinney, Schutz, Binns

2007 – Dig It: Green thumbs up for Tending the Garden capital campaign

2007 Dig It Celebration Breakfast Ken, Oonagh, Sandra Day O’Connor, Melodie Lewis and Hazel Hare

2007 – First Planting Ceremony – Ken Schutz, Oonagh Boppart, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Melodie Lewis, Hazel Hare

2007 Dig It Celebration Breakfast Hazel Hare, Dr. William Huizingh, Oonagh Boppart

2007 – Hazel Hare, Dr. William Huizingh, Oonagh Boppart

Oonagh served on the Garden’s Board of Trustees for 14 years and trustee emerita for six years, including serving as board president from 2007-2009. Her hard work and dedication to the Garden’s mission helped usher in multi-million dollar fundraising efforts that will benefit the community for generations to come. Her leadership was instrumental in advancing strategic plan goals and keeping donors connected with the community she helped build.

Oonagh, along with her dear friend Hazel Hare, co-chaired the Tending the Garden campaign from 2006-2008 that exceeded its $16 million goal — raising $18 million in funding for the Garden’s endowment, exhibits, education and research programs. Oonagh and Hazel expressed their high regard for Garden volunteers by sharing updates at virtually every Volunteer in the Garden (VIG) monthly meeting during their tenure. As an example of her dedication, she was president of the Board of Trustees while co-chairing this campaign. Hearing the need to ensure proper stewardship following this successful campaign, Oonagh created the Donor Recognition Committee, which continues today with a dozen volunteers handwriting personal thank you notes to donors. Stepping up once again in 2010, Oonagh and Hazel led the Chihuly Desert Towers Invitational with Trustees Jan Lewis and Ted Lagried to raise funds to purchase and permanently display the sculptures. Created specifically for display at the Garden’s entrance in the agave spiral, the sculptures from the Chihuly: Nature of Glass exhibition are a wonderful public art installation for the community.  

2008 Chihuly Gala Hazel Hare and Oonagh Boppart_web
2008 – Chihuly Gala – Hazel Hare and Oonagh Boppart
©Haute Media

During a year between her board terms, she founded the Ambassadors Council to keep former Garden trustees connected with Garden activities and leadership. This is yet another example of finding a solution to a problem she identified.

2013 75th Anniversary Gala

2013 75th Anniversary Gala
©Haute Media

In 2013, she led the planning for the Garden’s 75th Anniversary Celebration and served on the 75th  Anniversary Cabinet for The Saguaro Initiative. Most recently, Oonagh inspired the launch of Past Presidents Forward, an initiative to bring former Garden board presidents together. Her last project with this group was leading efforts to celebrate the Garden’s upcoming 85th anniversary in February 2024.

2014 Anniversary Luncheon Liebersons and Bopparts_web
2014 – Celebrate 75 Anniversary
Ron and Barbara Lieberson and Oonagh and John Boppart on Boppart Courtyard, a gift in memory of John’s parents, Louise and John Boppart
©Haute Media

2014 – Sonoran Circle Celebration – Barb Hoffnagle, Virginia Cave, John Boppart, Mollie Trivers, Kate Baker (in the back, Oonagh Boppart)
©Haute Photography

2017 – Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science Dedication – Tracy Kane and Oonagh Boppart_web

2017 – Dedication of the Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science with Hazel’s niece, Tracy Kane

©Haute Photography
2019 Conservation Award_web
2019 – Conservation Celebration benefiting the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance
©Haute Photography

Oonagh was truly an exceptional woman and her legacy as an arts and culture advocate reaches across the community. Oonagh’s lifelong passion for education was exemplified in her support across arts and culture organizations to engage with schools, children, caregivers and adults. One example of how she connected groups together is when Oonagh welcomed new audiences to the Garden by forging a partnership with the Phoenix Chamber Music Society.  Always a leader, she participated in benchmarking research for the Garden’s future children and family garden.

For over 20 years, she brought together CEOs from arts and culture organizations across Arizona to connect and collaborate. Energized by the positive results of these gatherings, she formed additional roundtable groups for education, marketing and development leaders. These groups formed new partnerships and created a close sense of community that fueled resilience to face challenges during the Great Recession in 2008 and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To celebrate the lives of beloved John and Oonagh, a service will take place at Desert Botanical Garden on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 6 p.m. on the Boppart Courtyard.

 We will leave you with a quote from Oonagh that exemplifies her passions.

2022 headshot by Laura Segall_web
2022 Oonagh Boppart
©Laura Segall

“I have a love of the arts, obviously. In any leadership, you need to know your subject and be able to think outside the box. We are living in a changing world, and the arts are essential to our everyday life …I truly love chamber music, the Ballet and being at the Desert Botanical Garden.”

-Oonagh Boppart

make a donation in memory of oonagh and john boppart

To honor the memory of John and Oonagh, the family suggests donations to the Desert Botanical Garden towards the completion of the Hazel Hare Center for Plant Science.

To send a donation by check, please mail it to the address below with a note that your gift is in memory of Oonagh and John. For further assistance, please contact Stephanie Wilson at 480.481.8160 or

Desert Botanical Garden
Attention: Tributes
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008

Thank you for being a part of the Garden family and remembering our dear Garden friends, Oonagh and John Boppart.