Gulf Coast Treasure_edited_edited

I can’t remember the exact circumstances of meeting Ernie and Mildred but I suppose it was at a Lone Star Daylily Society meeting. Sometimes, Ernie would come by just to visit and talk daylilies, on his way to pick up the weekly specials at Albertson’s. He would never stay too long. He always said that Mildred would scold him if he wasn’t back in a respectable time. She knew that he would stop by and she told him not to wear out his welcome, but we loved it. Then he got into the habit of coming by when Mildred went out with her girlfriends for lunch and shopping. He said he didn’t have a time limit on those days and we would spend the afternoon talking about what we had blooming, what we had been doing to our daylilies, or sometimes where we were going on vacation. We never lacked for a subject to discuss. He and Leon liked to talk about their crosses that the planned to make and what they might expect out of them or what remedy they were trying for various problems thay had in their gardens. Ernie was really interested in getting something special to name for Mildred and then maybe for himself. He told us that after that, he would be through. At first I thought that he meant he would be through with daylilies but that wasn’t what he meant. He just meant that if he could get those two special daylilies he would feel he had accomplished his goal and hybridizing wouldn’t hold as much appeal. Knowing Ernie, he would have continued to work at since he loved growing things so much.

Leon and I admired the fact that Ernie told ‘it’ like it was. We leaned that if you didn’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask Ernie. He applied his values evenly across the board to everyone. He didn’t play favorites. You couldn’t “one up” Ernie. If you gave him something, he gave it back double. We exchanged daylilies with him over the years but we were always on the short end of the giving part. Ernie would always outdo us. That same kind of giving was shown in his involvement in his club activities, too. He and Mildred always did more than their part. You never had to worry, if he volunteered to do something. We all could count on it getting done.

Ernie and Mildred were such a vital part of our club and our lives that I can hardly imagine a daylily season without him. There was so much left that he wanted to do. I would have loved to have seen him win Best in Show at one of our flower shows. I would like to have seen his face when he showed off that special daylily, asking our opinion when he would choose to name it for Mildred. I feel so grateful for having had the opportunity to know Ernie. I just wish we could have had many more years to enjoy his friendship. He always made us smile and we’ll miss him.

Paula and Leon Payne