p>The Iris World suffered a tremendous loss with the death of Melody Ruth Wilhoit of Kansas, Illinois. Melody died on June 21, 2014 at the age of 66. She leaves behind her husband Jerry their two sons, Justin and Jason and their extended families. She was born on July 14, 1947 in Paris, IL and lived her entire life in east central Illinois. She married Jerry on September 30, 1967 and built a house on 20 acres southeast of Kansas, Illinois where they would eventually establish Red Bud Lane Iris Garden.
The 2014 Red Bud Lane Iris garden Catalog was their 35th catalog. Melody and Jerry wrote in the prologue of that catalog the now haunting words "this may have to be our last catalog". They have had an extensive listing of nearly every type of iris through the years including many older irises not often available m commerce.
Melody had been involved in many aspects of iris through the years. She joined the American Iris Society in 1971 and served as RVP of Region 9 from 1989 through 1991. She served 2 terms on the AIS board as a director from 1993 through 1998. She was the AIS Awards Chair from 1994 to 1998. She was elected President of LISA (Louisiana Iris Society of America) in 1984. In 2003 she was awarded the AIS Distinguished Service Medal.
In the realm of Louisiana iris Melody was a major contributor. She wrote the cultural part for the Midwest in the first SLI book, The Louisiana Iris, published in 1988 under the heading "Louisianas in the Land of Lincoln". She was proof positive of the adaptability of Louisiana irises by growing them in often-bitter winters of east central Illinois. She, along with Jerry, gave Judges Training on Louisiana irises across the country, often as In Garden Training. She attended many AIS and SLI Conventions thought the years and was always smiling, pleasant and eager to talk irises. I first met Melody in 1998 when she and Jerry came to the Region 22 Meeting to give the JT on Louisiana irises before the first SLI Convention in Little Rock the following spring. She had been a big promoter of the Arkansas Hybridizers of Louisiana irises through the years and was always happy to see their irises do well in the AIS Awards system. I last saw Melody in Dallas in 2013 at both the AIS and SLI Conventions. She and Jerry donated pots of her namesake. I was lucky enough to have won the winning bid on one of those pots of irises. Now each spring when it blooms I can look at the bright yellow blossoms of that Louisiana iris and remember Melody.