By Jim Morris

Perry Dyer (1955—2018)

The loquacious and talented Perry Dyer, 63, of Blanchard, OK in Region 22 died of a second heart attack on September 3, 2018. He had just recently celebrated his birthday of August 17, 1955 and was recovering from his first attack when he succumbed. He is survived by his sister Kathleen.

Perry Dyer (1955-2018)

Perry had a BA in Music majoring in Piano Performance from the U. of Oklahoma in 1977. He was a longtime pianist for the Disciple Christian Church in New Castle, OK. Perry's career was with the Federal Aviation Administration performing in a lead inventory management position. This was a high pressure job, and was one of the reasons he hadn't issued a catalog or done any serious hybridizing the past dozen years. He retired in 2013 after 36 years of service.

Facebook posting by his friends and former co-workers depicted him as funny, sincere, dramatic, profane, zany, and unpredictable, yet someone who was very serious and knowledgeable about irises—someone to be remembered.

Perry's intense interest in irises was begun in grade school with strong support from his mother Kitty. He was the first winner in 1974 of the AIS Clarke Cosgrove Youth Achievement Award. He was a talented hybridizer who registered 44 irises, introducing 38 of them via his Contemporary Gardens listing. He had early success with 21 HMS, and 9 AMS. 'Silent Strings' (1979, IB) won the Sass Medal in 1985; 'Soft Spoken' (1980, BB) won the Knowlton Medal in 1988; and, 'Serenity Prayer' won the Cook-Douglas Medal in 1995. The latter is the classic example of excellent marketing of a new introduction. Perry knew he had a winner when he first saw it as seedling L-4. He increased the stock and sent it free to almost all the 65 Median Iris Society display gardens for the year of introduction.

He told the story about this being the prayer for Alcoholics Anonymous. The iris grew and bloomed well and was seen by the owners, many garden visitors and judges. They wrote about it and voted for it. It was the top vote-getter the first year eligible for its IAM (91), AM (93) and CDM (95). Dyer was well known for his "Contemporary Views,' his annual published review and commentary on irises. He wrote these for many years after tape recording his comments during garden visits. Some of them are available via Google search.

Dyer was chairman of the "Median Spree in '93" in Oklahoma City, the second MIS mini-convention. He participated extensively in three national AIS conventions in Oklahoma City in 1988, 1999, and 2007. He was a two-term president of MIS 2003—2008 as well as the Society for Louisiana Irises 1994—1997. He judged the Premio Firenze iris competition in Florence, Italy in 1993 and 2000. He helped the Italian Iris Society develop their judges' training program in 1993/1994.

During Perry's tenure as MIS president, he championed establishment of the Bennett C. Jones Outstanding Median Hybridizer Award in 2006, which he was awarded at the AIS convention in 2017. He was surprised by this because he had stopped hybridizing and had neglected his garden for a number of years. But with the assistance of Hugh Stout, he had recently started getting his garden back in shape and started hybridizing again. His eye for quality was still good as evidenced by 'Prince Of Egypt' (2007, ABMedian, OGB-) being awarded the Mohr Medal in 2015.

His last article on the 2018 iris bloom season, reminiscent of his "Contemporary Views", was published in the fall 2018 issue of "Tall Talk" on pages 18-21.  He had a way with words that will be missed.