William Dean Lee (1917 – 1999)
Dean Lee, 81, died on January 6, 1999. Dean had belonged to the Society for Louisiana Irises for more than 45 years and also belonged to the American Iris Society, where he was a Life Member and a Senior Judge. He attended all the SLI meetings and often judged at the annual SLI show. He also attended many of the annual AIS conventions.
Dean served as a cryptographer in the China-Burma-India area during World War II. After the war he worked for Southwestern Drug Company in Houston until his retirement in 1979. During this time he took night classes at the University of Houston until he graduated cum-laude in 1960 as a member of Phi Kappa Phi.
His interest in horticulture was strictly a hobby, which eventually led him to volunteer work at Mercer Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Houston. He received many honors for his work there including having the Louisiana iris bog garden named for him. He recently received the first Volunteer Award given by the Garden Club of Houston for his many years of work during the group's annual fall plant mart.
Dean Lee was honored by the Society for Louisiana Irises in 1993 when the Society presented him and his sister, Laurel Bridgman, with the Distinguished Merit Award for their many contributions over the years. Charles W. Arny,Jr. named a lovely brown iris for him in 1970. Although Dean made numerous crosses on Louisiana irises, he registered only one of them - DAWN AGLOW, an I.brevicaulis type, was registered in 1987 but was never introduced. Since only a few people were growing this iris, it may have disappeared.
Services were held with full military honors at Houston National Cemetery Chapel. In addition to Bridgman, he is survived by several close cousins. Memorials may be made to AIS, SLI or to Mercer Arboretum at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Houston TX 77338.
Editor's Note: Author unknown. This article first appeared in the SLI Newsletter in 1999.