Picture of Marie Caillet of Little Elm, TX, ca 2000

Godmother of Louisiana Irises was 94, by Richard Sloan

Marie Caillet has died at age 94. She had been declining for a while, and death came on Thursday, May 20, 2010. She was a founder of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI), and for decades the contact of the Society with the public. She published many articles in gardening magazines, was editor of the society newsletter for two decades, and she collaborated with Joe Mertzweiller in publishing a number of special publications and articles about Louisiana irises, and the first hard bound book on the topic. She later worked with Kevin Vaughan, Farron Campbell, and Dennis Vercher to publish the second edition. She carried on extensive correspondence with anyone who inquired about the irises and many of the interesting short articles in her newsletters resulted from that correspondence.

by Tom Dillard

Monte Stahl, secretary of the Society for Louisiana Irises until her recent resignation, died on June 2, 2008. Her irises had bloomed, and she was ready to move on to a garden more promising. Born to Florence and Dave Henderson, on November 2, 1946, in Oklahoma City, Monte lived and gardened here all her life. She attended Oklahoma University, graduating with a degree in psychology. She worked in the Sleep Lab of Presbyterian Hospital for nine years.

Photograph of Roberta Rowell Killingsworth

Roberta Rowell Killingsworth, mother of Society leaders Bobbie Ann Killingsworth Schikowitz and Ron Killingsworth, died at her home in Mooringsport, LA, on April 16, 2007.

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.

by Tom W. Dillard

 Photograph of Gertrude "Gertie" Butler

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.]

Photograph of Dennis VercherDennis 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.

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.)

Picture of Donald CopenhaverDonald 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.