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.

She became interested and soon became the expert in town on Louisiana Irises. She ran the Louisiana Iris booth for many years at the annual Garden Club of Houston’s (HGC) bulb mart. She served as the president of HGC in 1996 and on the board of the American Horticultural Society for many years. Two Louisiana Iris hybridizers named irises for her, ‘Empress Josephine’ and ‘Josephine Shanks’. In 1995 the SLI Distinguished Merit Award, the highest honorary award given by SLI, was presented to the Garden Club of Houston and Josephine Shanks for their outstanding contributions to the society and the promotion of the Louisiana Iris.

In 1992 she received the Garden Club of America’s Medal of Merit “for her exceptional contribution in the field of irises … and for generously sharing her knowledge with others”. In 1997 she won the Nataline Peters Webster Medal which recognizes the winner’s unique and outstanding contributions to horticulture, which was presented to her at the Garden Club of America’s national convention in Philadelphia.

She belonged to and held leadership positions in a number of horticultural groups including SLI, Mercer Arboretum, LA Society for Horticultural Research, American Iris Society, SIGNA, International Bulb Society, Garden Club of America and many more.

A celebration of her life was held on December 8, 2019, at Houston, TX. She was buried at Glenwood Cemetery.