SLI members who know and love the beautiful pink Louisiana iris named 'Aunt Shirley' (Mertzweiller 90) will be saddened to learn that its namesake, Mrs. Shirley Caillet Welch of Little Elm, Texas died in March at the age of 99. Mrs. Welch was the sister of SLI founding member and leader Miss Marie Caillet.
The iris world lost another dedicated and prolific iris hybridizer with the death of Marvin Granger of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Marvin died May 11, 2003 after an operation and other health problems. He leaves many devoted nieces and nephews and many iris friends with whom he talked or corresponded for over 50 years.
Not all SLI members are officers in the Society, nor are they Newsletter writers or iris hybridizers. Many members come to activities to meet with friends, look at the irises in tour gardens, and enjoy the fun or just to support a spouse. All of this applied to our late friend and SLI member, Helene Mertzweiller. She was more interested in cutting and arranging flower stalks than in growing them, but she was a true supporter of the Society activities and the Louisiana irises themselves.
As I read the article in the recent Newsletter by Robert Treadway titled "Oh Iris, Where Art Thou," when I read where he said he had never gotten to know the man Marvin Granger, my thought was, "Oh, what a loss!" To never get to indulge in a cup of his dripped coffee and a piece of his peanut butter pie, to never have gotten to know this kind, gentle, funny witty person! There are thousands of people who cross our paths in a year, having the open garden and
being involved in plant societies, pottery, etc., that we are involved with.
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.
by Tom W. Dillard
The Society for Louisiana Irises lost a valued member with the death on June 18,2004 of Lynn Rae Finkel, age 60, of Battle Ground, Washington. She died of cancer.
Born on January 9, 1944 in Maryland, Lynn was the daughter of Dorothy and Joseph Kaplan. She was the second of three children, and the family moved to the west coast when Lynn was five years of age. She grew up in the Los Angeles area, and graduated from Venice High School in 1960.
Thank you Heather Pryor for dedicating your well deserved DeBallion Medal to Lynn's memory. It's a great tribute to her. Thank you to Paul Gossett for allowing me to spend a few moments talking about Lynn's history in the iris world. She had a strong connection to both the SLI and Region 15 and so it is particularly appropriate to speak of it here.
She was always mildly interested in gardening and always had a few bearded irises in the garden. One in particular that her mom had given her, an old brown one, went with us as we moved around Southern California.
Donald Copenhaver of DeRidder, La. died recently. Don is fondly recalled by SLI members who occasionally visited the Copenhaver farm and garden during annual convention bus tours. They were perfect hosts.
Don was a potter, in addition to being a retired dairy farmer, and examples of his ceramic pieces could be found in his garden. Don is survived by his wonderful spouse, Nita Copenhaven. Don and Nita have always been generous in donating Louisiana iris rhizomes for sale at the annual convention.
Charles "Chuck" Walkowiak, a former member of the SLI board, died in mid-March. He lived in Lawtell, La. He was 64 years of age. Chuck attended the convention in Dallas in 2004, and his friendly but quiet personality was enjoyed by all those in attendance. He was also a member of the American Iris Society, the Acadiana Iris Society, and the Arbor Day Foundation.
The Society for Louisiana Irises extends its sympathies to the family of Charles Walkowiak. His presence at SLI conventions will be sorely missed but his impact on SLI will be felt for years to come.
(Editor's Note: This notice first appeared in the Fleur de Lis, the quarterly publication of SLI, in the Spring 2006 issue.)
Dennis Vercher, editor of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI) Newsletter for seven years in the 1990s, died on September 27,2006, at the age of 53. Vercher died of a lung infection brought on by his 20-year battle with AIDS, which had been complicated by his diagnosis with Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year.
by Tom W. Dillard
The world of gardening lost one of its great proponents recently with the death of Gertrude Remmel Butler of Little Rock, Ark. To members of the Society for Louisiana Irises, she was simply-but passionately-Gertie! Gertie, and her late husband Richard C. "Dick" Butler, were the kinds of people who lit up a room with their radiant personalities. For years after Dick's death in 1999, Gertie carried on by force of will-even maintaining Dick's growing site in the country. Ill health has confirmed her to her home in Little Rock for some time. The following obituary was provided by Ruebel Funeral Home. [Editor's comments are in brackets.]
by Tom Dillard
Society members will be saddened to learn of the death of one of our long time member, Russell Bourque of the Lafayette, La. area. Russell was the husband of Elaine Bourque, the long-time treasurer of the Society and he was always helping out at SLI conventions and other events. He was only 66 years of age when he died peacefully on May 3, 2007 at the Heart Hospital of Lafayette.