Josephine Muller Shanks, a lifetime member of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI), passed away on November 25, 2019. She was born in Houston in 1934.

She attended Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA and graduated from Rice Institute. She married Rex Shanks in 1956 and they moved to New York. Returning to Houston she became very active in many activities in the Houston area.

She loved tennis and often attended the River Oaks Tennis Tournament each April. She served on the boards of St. John’s School, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Junior League of Houston, The Friends of Fondren Library, The Contemporary Arts Museum and Rice’s Shepherd School of Music and the Garden Club of Houston.

By Jim Morris

Perry Dyer (1955—2018)

The loquacious and talented Perry Dyer, 63, of Blanchard, OK in Region 22 died of a second heart attack on September 3, 2018. He had just recently celebrated his birthday of August 17, 1955 and was recovering from his first attack when he succumbed. He is survived by his sister Kathleen.

Perry Dyer (1955-2018)

Perry had a BA in Music majoring in Piano Performance from the U. of Oklahoma in 1977. He was a longtime pianist for the Disciple Christian Church in New Castle, OK. Perry's career was with the Federal Aviation Administration performing in a lead inventory management position. This was a high pressure job, and was one of the reasons he hadn't issued a catalog or done any serious hybridizing the past dozen years. He retired in 2013 after 36 years of service.

Facebook posting by his friends and former co-workers depicted him as funny, sincere, dramatic, profane, zany, and unpredictable, yet someone who was very serious and knowledgeable about irises—someone to be remembered.

Perry's intense interest in irises was begun in grade school with strong support from his mother Kitty. He was the first winner in 1974 of the AIS Clarke Cosgrove Youth Achievement Award. He was a talented hybridizer who registered 44 irises, introducing 38 of them via his Contemporary Gardens listing. He had early success with 21 HMS, and 9 AMS. 'Silent Strings' (1979, IB) won the Sass Medal in 1985; 'Soft Spoken' (1980, BB) won the Knowlton Medal in 1988; and, 'Serenity Prayer' won the Cook-Douglas Medal in 1995. The latter is the classic example of excellent marketing of a new introduction. Perry knew he had a winner when he first saw it as seedling L-4. He increased the stock and sent it free to almost all the 65 Median Iris Society display gardens for the year of introduction.

by Robert Treadway

We were saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Bernard Hugh “Bud” McSparrin, Sr., PhD on December 28, 2017. Bud was a native of Lokeba, Oklahoma, but moved to Louisiana in 1960 to attend LSU where he earned his master’s degree and doctorate in physiology. He remained in Louisiana and taught at LSU Alexandria for 32 years.

Bud and Rusty McSparrinBud joined the Society for Louisiana Irises in the early ‘60s and served as the SLI President in 1968 and 1969. An American Iris Society Master Judge, he was awarded the SLI Service Award in 1971. Bud lived in Schriever, Louisiana, with his wife Rusty, where they operated Bois d’Arc Gardens.

Bud was interested in the preservation of the native species but frowned on indiscriminate collecting of wild irises from ditches and roadways. He rescued, registered, and introduced two fulvas. ‘Sycamore’ was introduced in 2009 and ‘Lockport’, in 2011. He also registered and introduced two hybrid cultivars. ‘Aline Arceneaux’ was introduced in 2007 and ‘Malacondra’, in 2011.

Besides gardening, Bud and Rusty shared an interest in rocks and minerals. They were members of the CENLA Rockhounds and the Gem, Mineral, and Lapidary Society of Central Louisiana, attending trade shows across the country.

Bud is survived by his wife, Russella Ramp ("Rusty") McSparrin; son, Bernard “Buddy” McSparrin, Jr. (Deidra); brother, Joe McSparrin; sisters, Judy Woodward and Janet DeSpain; stepdaughters: Natalie DeAngelis, Laura Elliott, Mary Gaidry, and Roberta Gaidry; stepgrandchildren: Trevor Billings, Douglas Pecot, Miranda Pecot, and Ruth Pecot; and greatgrandchild Emma Billings.

The Tulsa Area Iris Society presents an award (when worthy) to the Best Louisiana iris specimen in our Spring Iris Show. The award was started in 1991 and the trophy, which remains at the Tulsa Garden Center, was donated by Dorothy C. Howard. Along with the award, a monetarily gift certificate is awarded.

Dorothy at one time was growing a very large number of Louisiana Irises and loved to show them in our shows. She won the Best Specimen of Show Award many times with Louisiana Irises and really knew how to display them.

This year I am having a new trophy made to replace the trophy that Dorothy donated, and it will be called the “Best Louisiana Dorothy C. Howard Memorial Trophy”. Before she passed away, she was going to have a new trophy made, so I am doing this in her memory.

Dorothy Howard was the most gracious, kind, helpful, and elegant person I have ever know. She was a very dear friend who is truly missed by me and all the men and women who have ever met and known her. She always had a smile on her face and was always willing to assist and help when ever she was called upon to do so.

Members of the American Iris Society and espe­cially those that grow Louisiana irises were sad­dened by the death of Mary Dunn of North High­lands, California on October 5, 1997. She died in her home after a long bout with lung cancer. Many of her iris friends had a chance to visit with Mary during the Sacramento Convention in 1996 and the beautiful Dunn garden was on tour during the Con­vention. There is probably no one growing Louisiana irises that does not have some of the fine irises hybridized by Mary during the past 20 years. Her first Louisiana iris introduction was MONU­MENT, which won the Mary Swords DeBaillon Medal in 1984. She has since registered close to 100 cultivars, many of which have won MS Awards. Three of her Louisianas have won the DeBaillon Medal and she was voted the AIS Hybridizer's Medal in 1992 on the basis of her work with the Louisianas.

To quote from the April 1993 MS Bulletin (#289 p 9): "Louisiana irises are Mary's domain at the Dunn's M.A.D. Iris Garden. Although she has many quality Tall Bearded introductions, it is fitting that Mary's greatest achievements to date have been with the Louisianas. The Sacramento area is a long way from the swamps of Louisiana where these iris­es originated, but Mary's success shows off their adaptability to different climates. Mary's quest for improvements of the Louisiana and her significant contributions to the Tall Bearded iris world have led to her Hybridizer's Medal. It should serve as an incentive to others, because it shows that one need not have abundant space to create award-winning irises.

    Valera Chenoweth died June 12th, 1996, in Canadian, Texas, at the age of 79.

    Valera was a Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI) member for more than twenty years and attended a number of SLI meetings in Lafayette, LA.  She developed an interest in Louisiana irises while living in Lemon Grove, CA.

     A retired Master Judge of the American Iris Society, Valera was an active promoter of Louisiana irises for many years.  Her interest went beyond entering shows, although she loved winning ribbons, to hybridizing both in diploid and tetraploid Louisiana irises.  Her 'Samurai Wish' (Chenoweth, V 1986) is widely-grown and was a real color break in tetraploid Louisiana irises.  She introduced a total of 12 Louisiana irises.

Richard GoulaA Memorial Mass will be celebrated on May 13, 2017 at 11:00 am in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, Louisiana for Richard Anthony Goula who died on April 7, 2017.

The Eulogy will be given by Mr. Bill Miller before the Memorial Mass begins. Maestro Mariusz Smolij and the Acadiana Symphony will provide liturgical music. Tom Niel, Director of Music and Organist at the Cathedral, along with Linda Malin, soloist, Ben Blanchet, soloist, and vocalists Dave Domingue and Sharon and David LaBarbera will also provide music. The Rev. Msgr. Keith J. DeRouen, Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Opelousas will celebrate the Mass and Virginia Stuller will read the readings.

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)

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.

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.

AlbertDetwilerBert Detwiler 1919 - 2014 Albert C. "Bert" Detwiler was the fourth of six children born to J. Homer and Blanche (Shaffer) Detwiler. All were born in the same house in Jeannette, PA. Bert was born on March 28, 1919 in Jeannette, PA., and died of complications following surgery on December 30, 2014, in Tucson, AZ. He was 95. After a short stint as circulation manager of the local newspaper, Bert at age 23 became the manager of three theaters in Latrobe, PA, in 1942. Bert married his high-school sweetheart, Joan Valentine Skidmore, on April 23, 1940, in Indiana, PA. In 1944 Bert volunteered for service in WWII.

An early member of the Society, Mrs. V.B. Evans of Ferriday, Louisiana, died in June 1991. Mrs. Evans had served on the Board of Directors and on various committees during the early years.