Sam Norris of Owensboro, Kentucky, passed away on November 19, 2002. Sam will be missed by many areas of the Horticultural Community. His contributions to so many societies and associations has earned him our gratitude and admiration.
Sam's fascination with the chemical called colchicine has benefited such organizations as the Hibiscus Society, the American Iris Society, the Arilbred Society, the American Nut Growers Association, the Daylily Society, the Society for Louisiana Irises, the Species Iris Group of North America, and several others. Mr. Norris's new techniques and applications of colchicine will be utilized by many more botanists and horticulturists in the years to come, giving the world larger fruits, nuts, food crops, as well as many new fertile hybrids.
Many gorgeous flowers were produced during Sam's 40 years of hybridizing. Mr. John Holden and Mr. Norris laid the ground work for the beautiful tetraploid Arilbreds, and the world is now growing the iris/lily cross Pardancanda norrisii's (Candy Lilies).
His hybridizing always seemed to lead Sam to areas that he felt needed improvement. One of his greatest efforts had been toward the tetraploid Louisiana iris. His vision along with Joe Mertzweiller's had been to produce sturdier and hardier plants so many more iris enthusiasts could enjoy the color diversity that we appreciate in the Louisiana iris.
Few of us really know the impact that Mr. Norris has had on the horticultural community or will have in the future. We can only be thankful for his efforts and hopefully build on them.
Editor's Note: This article first appear in the SLI Newsletter in the Winter 2002 edition.