by Melvin McConnell
“RALPH, RALPH, Bring the shovel...Bring some tags.”
Many of us that are hooked on “Siloams” have heard this so many times. That meant one thing to us who have walked the yard with Pauline, hoping that we could talk her out of a plant of RALPH HENRY, BIG PRIZE, DOUBLE CLASSIC, or maybe the one that Pauline loved so much—SILOAM VAUGHAN’S LUXURY. When the right moment came, she would yell for Ralph (Mr. Henry).
There are so many things that we will miss from Siloam Springs. Personally, I will miss the daylilies, but I think, even more, I will miss sitting down for lunch or supper at the kitchen table, talking daylilies and eating those good cobblers and that good chili, guaranteed not to give you the heart burn.
The week before Pauline passed away, she called and the first thing she said was “Guess what I made today. It’s so good! Huckleberry cobbler. When are you coming?”
The day of the funeral, I was helping Lisa Mowery (SILOAM LISA MOWERY) prepare lunch and Lisa just happened to say there was a little bowl of Pauline’s homemade chicken soup in the refrigerator. After the funeral service, several friends got back to the house early and I just had to taste the chicken soup one more time. So, I snuck in and did just that. For me, it was a closing; for the many, many good years that I was privileged to have been able to visit Pauline and Mr. Henry.
Forty-two years were spent making the long list of Siloams. Pauline mastered the yellows, the pinks, the creams, miniatures, and doubles. To me, her best achievements were SILOAM VIRGINIA HENSON, SILOAM DOUBLE CLASSIC, and SILOAM RALPH HENRY. Oh yes, and my favorite – SILOAM BIG PRIZE.
I will miss every bit of this, especially, “Ralph, bring the shovel” and that ever so good black walnut fudge.
John Holland, Rogers, Arkansas
To those who know daylilies, Pauline Henry was considered one of the most significant hybridizers in the history of her chosen flower. The word “icon” has been used rather loosely in many fields; however, Pauline fit the classical definition. Her pioneer work in small and eyed daylilies literally redefined the parameters of form, color and patterns available up to that time. Then, as the whim of the public shifted, her hybridizing began to include larger flowers punctuated by her milestone “Siloam Ralph Henry”. She never wavered in her commitment to diploid daylilies. When most of her fellow hybridizers jumped on the tetraploid bandwagon, she remained adamant that her beloved “dips” not be abandoned in the progression toward variety and perfection. She leaves a legacy of over 300 registered varieties, but more importantly she touched the lives of countless flower lovers throughout the world, both personally and through her introductions. She will be missed.
Jack Carpenter, Center, Texas
Pauline Henry and I became friends through our telephone conversations over the last twenty years. For many of us, Pauline, a great part of your legacy in flowers is that the names you gave them lifted our eyes higher than the beauty of the flowers themselves. Thank you so much for both!
David Kirchhoff, Sanford, Florida
Pauline was a talented and gracious lady. She valued her friendships. Her legacy will continue to grow.
In remembrance, by Oliver Billingslea, Alabama
We shall never pass this
“She had an uncanny way of knowing just when I would walk in the house after a long trip. Within five minutes sure enough the phone would ring, in her high-pitched, rather gravelly voice she would begin, ’Mr. Billingslea...’ I shall miss that voice.”
Joel Stout, Conway, Arkansas
"To me, Pauline Henry was always an inspiration and motivation. Anthony Robbins and all the other “motivational guys” could have learned much from Pauline.
"Most people in their mid-fifties begin talking about their physical ailments and needing to “cut back” on what they have to take care of. But, it was at that time in Pauline’s life that she was becoming recognized as a daylily hybridizer. For almost 40 more years, she continued to work hard. Even through this last season, I do not ever remember her complaining about the hard work, the pain, or having too much to do. Her husband, Ralph, always accompanied her in the hard work, He didn’t even take much of a break after his heart surgery in 1997. I remember he was back dragging the water hoses around that summer, as he always did.
"She never planned to slow down or quit hybridizing daylilies. Each time I would go to a meeting or convention, the afternoon I returned home she would call me to ask, “What did you see that I need to get to cross with next year?” At the house after her death, John Holland asked Ralph what Pauline had told him to do with the daylilies. Ralph answered, “She never told me, she never told me what to do with the daylilies.” This is not to say that she wasn’t a planner – she just never planned to stop hybridizing. Pauline was a very organized person. Although it’s reported that she did not keep hybridizing records, she thought out and planned her crosses very well. When I would speculate to her about the parents of one of her daylilies, she would answer with a twinkling eye, “I don’t know, it could be.”
"Pauline did not procrastinate or put things off. She was a “do it now” person. When she decided to do something, she would not stop until the task was completed. On more than one occasion, she would call me to see if I had a particular daylily she was wanting. I would tell her I had it, and that I’d check in the morning to see how many fans I had. When I called her back the next day to tell her I could let her have a fan or two, she would ask, “Can you send it right now?” She would have already found one or two other people who could send it “in the fall”, but Pauline didn’t want to wait.
"Pauline enjoyed the appreciation and recognition for her hard work and beautiful flowers. It was satisfying to have many people wanting to buy her daylilies. She always nominated her daylilies as candidates for the cultivar awards. When visiting her garden, she would always let friends and garden judges know what she was planning to introduce that year as new cultivars. In addition to the numerous other major awards she received, Pauline won more Junior Citation awards than any other hybridizer. At her funeral, as we began singing the chorus of the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross”, and reached the phrase “Til my trophies at last I lay down”, I got a big lump in my throat that lasted. Pauline Henry has stopped hybridizing daylilies, is at rest with her Lord, and has left all of us with beautiful flowers to enjoy and to remind us of her."