~ Notable Irisarians:
Recollections of Harry Randall
By George Waters, OR
But that forthrightness, coupled with a subtle sense of humor, made Harry a popular speaker at iris conventions, and during his frequent visits to the US he was often the guest of honor. One of those occasions was an AIS convention in Chicago (perhaps during the 1960s -- I have no handy reference to consult) where a recording was made of Harry's after-dinner speech. A copy was made on an oversize LP disc for Harry himself. The copy was given to me by Mrs. Randall on Harry's death, but is no longer in my possession. Perhaps the person responsihle for making the recording could dig up another copy.
He was made welcome in this country by iris hybridizers such as Dave Hall, Orville Fay, and Jesse Wills. Neva Sexton, whose iris New Moon earned the Dykes Memorial Medal in 1973, spoke of Harry with particular warmth; when Harry learned that Neva's medal had not arrived from England, he had one of his own Dykes medals (he won four, I believe) re-engraved with her name and sent to her. (Dykes Medals are awarded by the British Iris Society and the American Iris Society recommends a recipient to the BIS, usually each year.)
It was Harry's practice to invite a few members of the BIS to his home in Beaconsfield to hear him read recently completed chapters of his book in progress. The guests were expected to offer criticism of the work, but Harry's formidable reputation tended to inhibit comment. My own attempts to meet his wishes on these occasions earned the gift of a carload of recently dug rhizomes. Harry's manuscript was almost complete when he died, and, with final details attended to by Mrs. Randall, George Preston, and other friends, Harry's Irises was published posthumously.