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a memory of Cleo Palmer

I knew Cleo Palmer through the median hybridizing robin, which he
was directing when I joined in the late 1970s. It was my favorite
robin at the time, a great mix of pros and learners.

When the 1980 AIS convention was set for Tulsa, we (my mother and I)
decided to drive there and visit Cleo on the way. (His garden was well
west of Oklahoma City, in Geary, and was not on the convention tour.)
Coming from dry New Mexico, where everything is a bleached tan color,
I was struck with the _color_ of this part of Oklahoma: _bright_ red
soil (almost fuchsia pink in places) and dark, intense blue-green
grass everywhere.

Cleo's humble home was a chaos of letters, books, and other evidence
of dedicated nonchalance. We felt right at home.  ;)

The man himself was white-haired, soft-spoken, and completely relaxed.
He showed us the garden, which was a seemingly endless expanse of
Oklahoma grass and weeds into which rectangular iris beds had been
haphazardly carved. An old wood shack stood lopsided at an uncouth
angle near the house. Cleo explained (with only a hint of a smirk) that
a twister had come by fifteen years before, lifted up the shack, and
deposited it in its current location. He said he thought it looked OK
there, so he left it.

Cleo will be remembered not only for the fine irises he produced, but
for his gentle manner and the kind encouragement he gave to everyone
interested in irises. The iris world was fortunate to have Cleo Palmer
around to help bind it together.


Tom Tadfor Little         tlittle@lanl.gov  -or-  telp@Rt66.com
technical writer/editor   Los Alamos National Laboratory
Telperion Productions     http://www.rt66.com/~telp/

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