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Helen Field Fisher
Bertrand Farr Picture 1876 – 1953

Just as Dr. Arlow Stout has been called "the father of the American daylily", Helen Field Fischer is unquestionably the "mother of the American Hemerocallis Society". Born March 13, 1876, Helen E. Field grew up in a family of five sisters and one brother in Shenandoah, Iowa.

Her brother Henry started a garden seed business and Helen took summer courses at Cornell University, studying landscaping and horticulture. In 1905, she married Frederick Fischer.

Back in Shenandoah, her brother Henry, interested in promoting his seed business, started a radio station on the third floor of his seed house. Helen, already an author of many magazine articles about gardening, was asked to host a daily half-hour "Garden Club of the Air". She became known as "the Flower Lady". Her show became so popular that she couldn’t personally answer the hundreds of letters pouring in. Organizing "round robins" for people interested in the same gardening questions provided a solution.

In the early 1940’s Helen began talking more about hybrid daylilies, and a robin for that interest was begun. After WWII ended, and Victory Gardens were no longer the rule, and people again had fuel to travel, the robin members wanted Henry Field to reinstitute the previously popular "Midwest Flower Show". Helen agreed to host the show and with the help of her sisters and robin members, the show was organized and staffed.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14, 1946, five thousand visiting flower lovers converged on the Henry Field Seed Company from Colorado, Montana, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia, as well as from the nearby states. Hotels and private homes were filled, so a dormitory was improvised in the basement of the Congregational Church, and dubbed "The Robin's Nest." The Seed House became a Fairyland of Flowers, although this first show was not confined to daylilies.

According to Viola Fox (who would become the initial secretary), on Sunday afternoon a meeting was held in the auditorium of the seed house. While the moving spirit was that of Mrs. Fischer, her sister Jesse Shambaugh, chairman of the show, was the one who actually wrote out the motion that would organize the "Midwest Hemerocallis Society."
"In 1948, the Society really became National, so the name ‘Midwest’ was dropped and it was known as 'The Hemerocallis Society,'" wrote Lula Mae Purnell.
It was not until a meeting in Baton Rouge in 1955 that it became "The American Hemerocallis Society."

So it was that the Helen Field Fischer Gold Medal was created in her honor "for distinguished and meritorious service on the national level".  She was the first recipient in 1950.

Helen Field Fischer died April 24, 1953.

- Courtesy of the AHS Archives and Betsey Clark

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Gold Medal


2017 Honorees
Dan and Jackie Bachman
Region 2, Ohio

Established in 1950, this is the Society's highest honor and is the official recognition for distinguished and meritorious service rendered the AHS by a member on the national level. It is named for the founder of the American Hemerocallis Society. In general this award should honor only one person annually, but two awards have been given on occasion. A dual award to two members of the same family will count as one. Nominations may be submitted by any AHS member to the AHS Awards & Honors Chairman by mail or email. Nominations are due by September 1st for the upcoming year. The AHS Board votes by secret ballot at the annual fall board meeting, and the award is presented at the following AHS National Convention.

Previous honorees:

2017 Dan and Jackie Bachman  Ohio
2016 Gisela Meckstroth Ohio
2015 Earl and Barbara Watts Mississippi
2014 Joanne Larson Illinois
2013 Timothy J. Fehr Wisconsin
2012 Kevin P. Walek Virginia
2011 Jim and Peggy Jeffcoat South Carolina
2010 Bill and Jean Norris Florida
2009 Lee Pickles Tennessee
2009 Roswitha Waterman New York
2008 Pat Mercer Georgia
2007 Kay Day Pricola California
2006 Wayne Johnson Florida
2005 Ken Cobb North Carolina
2004 Hal Rice Michigan
2003 Virginia Henson Texas
2002 Nell Jessup Georgia
2001 David Kirchhoff Florida
2000 Peggy Estes Oklahoma
2000 Earlene Garber Louisiana
1999 William C. Monroe Louisiana
1998 Jack Harrison Alabama
1997 Annie Weinreich Texas
1996 Bill & Mary Anne Ater Texas
1995 Bob Brooks California
1994 Dorothea Boldt Louisiana
1993 Frances Gatlin Missouri
1993 Elly Launius Mississippi
1992 Clarence Crochet Louisiana
1991 R.W. Munson, Jr. Florida
1991 Selma Timmons Georgia
1990 Virginia Peck Tennessee
1989 Mavis G. Smith Missouri
1988 Betty Woods Georgia
1987 Ida Munson Florida
1986 Sarah Sikes Alabama
1985 Luke Senior, Jr. Arkansas
1984 Lucia Bjorkman Texas
1983 Mildred Schlumpf Texas
1982 Olive Langdon Alabama
1981 Daisy L. Ferrick Kansas
1980 Shirley Gene Wild Missouri
1980 Martha B. Hadley Missouri
1979 Luther J. Cooper, Jr. North Carolina
1978 Betty Barnes Mississippi
1977 Ruth Mannoni Kansas
1976 Edna Lankart Texas
1975 Louise Simon Louisiana
1975 Willard Gardner North Carolina
1974 George T. Pettus Missouri
1973 Ethel Smith Mississippi
1972 Molly Wheeler Illinois
1971 Walter C. Hava Mississippi
1970 Hyta Mederer Georgia
1970 Bertie Ferris Texas
1969 George M. Darrow Maryland
1968 William E. Monroe Louisiana
1967 Ben Parry Tennessee
1966 Lula Mae Purnell Texas
1965 Olive Hindman Florida
1964 Hubert A. Fischer Illinois
1963 Ophelia Taylor Florida
1962 Frances Lamb Kentucky
1961 D. R. McKeithan Oklahoma
1960 Mrs. Carl Marcue Iowa
1959 Wilmer B. Flory Indiana
1958 Elmer A. Claar Illinois
1957 Hugh M. Russell Texas
1956 F. Edgar Rice Oklahoma
1955 George E. Lenington Missouri
1954 Bess Ross Iowa
1953 Gretchen Harshbarger Iowa
1952 Viola Richards Indiana
1951 M. Frederick Stuntz New York
1950 Helen Field Fischer Iowa
© Copyright 1995-2016 by the American Hemerocallis Society, Inc.
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