by Marie Caillet
Mrs. Walter C. "Minnie" Colquitt died at the age of 100 on March 10, 2004 at a Shreveport, La. nursing home. Minnie was a charter member of the Society for Louisiana Irises-and an active worker in the early years. She served on the board and then as president in 1951. She joined the American Iris Society in 1938 and began taking an active part as recorder and later registrar. She also began attending conventions and SLI meetings, usually coming a day or so ahead to dig in the swamps.
Minnie helped organize garden clubs in the Shreveport area, including separate iris and daylily societies. She was chairman of the 1951 AIS convention in Shreveport, at which her garden was on the tour. Minnie belonged to over a dozen flower and gardening societies, including those for daffodils, roses, penstemons, rock garden plants, daylilies, bulbs, and irises, which were probably her favorites. The famous Sass brothers named a lovely plicata seedling for her in 1942.
Minnie was an accredited judge for most of these flowers and was an active lecturer and teacher for garden clubs in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the AIS in 1962 for her work in the Society and the promotion of irises. She was later given the rank of judge emeritus for AIS Region 10.
After breaking her hip in 1994, Minnie had to give up her home and 40 acre "farm" that resembled a botanical garden, but she continued her interests through reading all the newsletters and bulletins. She bought many SLI books to give to friends, and she kept up with the progress of Louisiana irises and the Society through me, her long time friend.
I met Minnie in 1942 and worked with her as secretary-treasurer when she was president in 1951. Ike and Barbara Nelson and I also visited with Minnie and Sally Smith during a bloom season in 1947 when we ended up for a day at the home of Caroline Dormon. Since I often drove through Shreveport to and from Dallas and Lafayette, I would stop for lunch with Minnie and Sally-and then visit their gardens. We made a delightful trip to Little Rock, Ark. in 1980 to visit Frank and Bryce Chowning and to see all the iris gardens in that area.
It is hard to lose old friends and there are few of them left. Minnie Colquitt was the last of the many Shreveport SLI members and iris growers of the 1940-70 era.