Joseph K. Mertzweiller, who served the Society for Louisiana Irises as president, board member, chairman of the Scientific Committee and longtime chairman of the Publication Committee, passed away on June 26, 1997 at his residence in Baton Rouge.
He was born in New Orleans in 1920 and grew up in the area. In 1941 he graduated from Loyola University with a degree in chemistry. He obtained a Master's degree from the University of Detroit in 1943.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1946 he married the former Helene Reid of Fall River, Mass. He retired in the mid-1980s after spending almost 40 years with Exxon Research Laboratories in Baton Rouge.
Interested in horticulture since his boyhood, Mertzweiller became involved in Louisiana Irises when he met Professor Claude Davis in 1953 and, through him, Professor Ira Nelson. He became interested in hybridizing Louisiana irises and later developed a special interest in tetraploid Louisianas.
Jules Patin, 65, died on Monday, October 26, 1981, and was buried in New Orleans on Wednesday, October 28, 1981. A native of New Orleans, he had been a resident of Lafayette for the past 27 years. He had been manager of Glazer Wholesale Drug Company for over 25 years, and at the time of his death was associated with Pan American Imports. He served as an officer in the US Air force during World War II. He was an active member of several horticultural societies and served as President of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI) in 1960. He was the recipient of the SLI Service Award in 1964. A hybridizer of Louisiana Irises, he received a number of awards at the annual SLI iris shows.He is survived by his wife, the former Carolyn Fahrmann of Lafayette; two daughters, Mrs. Thomas (Gay Ann) Brasher of San Jose, CA, and Mrs. Daniel (Patrice Cheri) O’Connel of Anchorage, Alaska; and three grandchildren.
Frank E. Chowning, 87, died in Little Rock, AR, on Friday, November 20, 1981, and was buried on Saturday, November 21. Born in Rison, AR, he graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1922. He served as a US Army lieutenant in France during World War I. He practiced law in Little Rock for 52 years.An avid irisarian, Frank was a member of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI) for many years. He served as President in 1961 and was recipient of the society’s Service Award that year. His success in the area of hybridizing is evidenced by the fact that four of his irises have won the Mary Swords DeBaillon Award – ‘Dixie Deb’ (1967), ‘This I Love’ (1979), ‘Ann Chowning’ (1980) and ‘Bryce Leigh’ (1981). He is survived by his wife, Bryce Leigh, son Robert E. and daughter, Martha Ann, and stepdaughter, Bryce Reveley. (Author unknown)
by Ron Killingsworth ca Fall 2007
Sidney Conger was born in July 1924, in his grandparent's home at Arcadia, La. He died in August 1993, in Houston, Texas, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston, La. Sidney's wife of almost 40 years, Bette Lee Davis Conger, now resides near her daughter in Maryland. Sidney and Bette Lee had two boys and a girl and the children were raised in the family home in Arcadia.
When I graduated from Tracy Hi in 1942 I had no idea I would be hybridizing irises when I was 80. However, there should have been some clues. The Busch and Lomb Science Award was given to me for taking four years of science classes. My father, wanting to teach me about the birds and bees, arranged to get me on a field trip with a almond grower and his daughter. We went to the University of California at Davis to learn how to pollinate fruit trees.
Congratulations to Marvin Granger of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who was selected at the fall board meeting of the American Iris Society to receive the Distinguished Hybridizer Medal at their annual convention in Memphis, Tennessee, this April. This is quite an honor and especially so for a hybridizer of one of the 'other irises' like Louisianas.
It would take a book-length article to write about and describe all the things and people that influence hybridizing of the Louisiana iris. It all began after World War II, around 1946 or a little later, when I got into the field of serious hybridizing. My sister and I had been collecting the blue GC's (I.giganticaerulea) whose main habitat was in the marshes of Cameron Parish, that was a short drive south of Lake Charles, Louisiana in Calcasieu Parish.