The Society for Louisiana Irises recognized Dr. Robert L. Bledsoe of Sioux Falls, South Dakota by voting him the 1985 Service Award for outstanding service to the Society and to Louisiana irises. It is a real honor for an out of state member to be so honored, for only three others have received this -award since it was initiated in 1947. Those three were Ila Nunn of Houston, TX in 1962, Frank Chowning of Little Rock, AR in 1961 and Ellene Rockwell of Fentress, TY in 1980. It is an indication of the wide spread interest in the Society and in Louisiana irises and the degree of work and support from members outside the state of Louisiana.
Bob Bledsoe might be described as a promoter - promoting Louisiana irises and the Society for Louisiana Irises in his far North Section of the United States. He perhaps grows more Louisiana cultivars than any other person in the world - something like 500 and adding more each year. His collection includes many of the old and hard to find ones as well as all the new ones from the U.S. and Australia. This gives him a basis for comparison and evaluation for the numerous articles he writes for our Newsletters and other iris publications.
As an AIS Judge, he has had the opportunity to give many judging schools on Louisiana irises in the North Central Regions, where the Louisianas are beginning to take hold. He taught a judging school on Louisianas at the AIS Convention in Indianapolis, May 21. He has also hosted tours of his garden at bloom time for judges in the surrounding states.
Besides his own garden, he supervises two display gardens of Louisianas in Sioux Falls'. He has given talks and slide shows in his own and other Regions; gives 8 or 10 programs on Louisianas each year to other organizations; appears on a local TV talk show on gardening to promote Louisiana irises. Such dedication and hard work certainly deserves the honor of this award.
Dr. Bledsoe is a native of Georgia and is presently Chairman of the Romance Language Department of Augustana College, teaching Spanish and Portuguese. He and his wife Helen were founders and charter members of the Sioux Valley Rose Society and the Sioux Empire Iris Society. He is a faithful contributor to our SLI publications and is currently Editor of the LISA Bulletin.
The Society could use some more promoters like Bob Bledsoe!