Dean Lee and Laurel Bridgman receive the Society for Louisiana Irises Distinguished Merit AwardDean Lee and Laurel Bridgman receive Distinguished Merit Award At the 1993 Spring Meeting and Show, SLI officials announced that long-time members William Dean Lee and Laurel Bridgman of Magnolia, Texas won the Society's prestigious Distinguished Merit Award. The award is bestowed by the SLI Board of Directors in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of Louisiana irises. 
 
Dean joined the Society in the late 1940s and has remained active and involved in SLI since that time. Horticulture has been a life-long hobby, and he acquired a broad knowledge of the subject. His interest in Louisiana irises led to a number of contributions to their cause. 
Working as a volunteer with Mercer Arboretum and Botanical Gardens since its inception, he was instrumental in developing Mercer's Louisiana iris plantings. For his efforts, the arboretum last year announced that the garden would be named "The William Dean Lee Louisiana Iris Garden." In addition to his activities at Mercer, he war k s wit h the Garden Club of Houston, and has participated for more than 20 years in that organization's annual Fall Bulb Mart, where a large quantity of Louisiana iris rhizomes are sold each year. 
 
He is a Retired Master Judge of the American Iris Society. Dean and his sister, Laurel Bridgman, manage the Society's Archives. Laurel has participated in the Society for nearly two decades. She is distinguished by a ready willingness to perform background work, and she has assisted the Society in many ways. She continually serves in various capacities at annual SLI conventions, helping with registration, meal arrangements and the information table. She also has been an instrumental volunteer at the Houston Bulb Mart for the past several years. She is Chairman of the Membership Committee. 
 
Laurel and Dean share a home in Magnolia, north of Houston, with their dachshund. Avid Houston Oilers fans, they hold season tickets to home games.