My love for Louisiana irises began in 1960 with tall bearded. In spite of all the "TLC" they need, my love has never ceased, so when in 1970 we started spending the winters in Florida, I started trying to grow them there. I had little success. We started going to the AIS Conventions in 1976. Either the Louisiana irises were never open at convention time or I was never interested and thus paid no attention. Either way, I never saw a Louisiana iris until 1980 at Charlotte Withers home at Lakeland, Florida. It was EOLIAN. It was, at least, growing and blooming and a beautiful flower, so I decided to try one. It did real well for me the first year. In the spring of 1982, Mr. Pat Irwin, a member of our Florida Iris Society, invited us to his home in Kissimmee, Florida for our April
meeting to see his Louisiana irises blooming. It was there where another love of iris began.
The Society for Louisiana Irises recognized Dr. Robert L. Bledsoe of Sioux Falls, South Dakota by voting him the 1985 Service Award for outstanding service to the Society and to Louisiana irises. It is a real honor for an out of state member to be so honored, for only three others have received this -award since it was initiated in 1947. Those three were Ila Nunn of Houston, TX in 1962, Frank Chowning of Little Rock, AR in 1961 and Ellene Rockwell of Fentress, TY in 1980. It is an indication of the wide spread interest in the Society and in Louisiana irises and the degree of work and support from members outside the state of Louisiana.
Joseph K. Mertzweiller of Baton Rouge, LA was honored by the American Iris Society at their annual convention in May. He was awarded the AIS Hybridizer's Medal for his research and development of the first tetraploid Louisiana irises. This award is voted by the AIS Board of Directors upon the recommendation of the Honorary Awards Committee. Joe attended this convention in Indianapolis and was present at the Awards Banquet to receive the medal.
The Board of Directors of Directors of the Society for Louisiana Irises selected Aline M. Arceneaux of Lafayette, Louisiana, as the 1990 recipient of the Distinguished Merit Award.
by Marie Caillet
The Society for Louisiana Irises Distinguished Merit Award for 1993 was presented to Barbara (Mrs. Ira S.) Nelson by Aline Arceneaux. This is the sixth time the award has been given to recognize outstanding contributions to the Society and in promotion of Louisiana irises.
Barbara Nelson, the wife of the late Ira S. Nelson, came to Lafayette, Louisiana in 1941, the year the Society for Louisiana Irises was organized. She was busy that first decade rearing a family of four children, but was always involved with iris society activities. Their home was a meeting place for people interested in the native irises, for Society Board Meetings and for representatives of the American Iris Society that came to see what we were doing. In these early years we were an unknown factor and a curiosity to the American Iris Society!
By Marie Caillet
Joseph K. Mertzweiller of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was named the 1991 recipient of the SLI Distinguished Merit Award, officials announced at the Spring, 1992 convention.
Mertzweiller has been a member of the Society for Louisiana Irises and the American Iris Society for more than 40 years. He is a past president of SLI and has served on the board of directors for numerous terms. He was Chairman of the Scientific Committee for a number of years and a member, then chairman, of the Publication Committee for some 25 years. As Publication Committee Chairman, he supervised the publication of the last five Special Publications. He also wrote the booklet on Louisiana Irises which was published by the Louisiana Extension Service and distributed free of charge for many years.
by W. B. MacMillan
Although it was largely through our mutual interest in ornamental horticulture that brought us together, it soon became Mary herself, her personality, and her character that we, Peggy and I, shall never forget; and it was this that held us together as friends until she was taken away only twelve years later.
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