|Wally and Dorothy Berg|
The concept of the Wally Berg Award of Excellence was formulated in 1999 to honor the late Wally Berg (1927-2000) of Sarasota, Florida. Wally and his wife Dorothy were extraordinary bromeliad growers, frequently winning top Awards and Best in Show at World Bromeliad Conferences and Florida local/regional bromeliad shows, providing display specimens also. Their private diverse collection was one of the finest in the world, with many unusual and rare species consistently grown to near perfection and set in magnificent, immaculate gardens and greenhouses which were often open to visitors. Wally was an enthusiastic supporter of the BSI, with many rare plants donated for sales and auction, benefiting the Bromeliad Identification Centre at Selby Gardens, the "Evil Weevil" research and other worthy causes. He also volunteered countless hours service at Selby Gardens. Wally was a frequent guest speaker on a variety of topics at many affiliate meetings, capturing his audience also with stories and photos of his many collecting trips and the new discoveries he introduced into horticulture, such as Aechmea 'Ilha Grande', 'La Tigra', 'Sangria' and 'Yapi'. Such bromeliad-hunting expeditions to Colombia, Panama, Brazil, El Salvador and Belize, to name a few, were often taken in tandem with other growers, nurserymen and botanists. Wally had joined both the BSI and Sarasota Bromeliad Society in 1982. Positions held with S.B.S. were President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Co-Chairman of several local bromeliad shows and member society representative for the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies. Wally was also bestowed Honorary (Life) Membership by the Sarasota Bromeliad Society. Photography and occasional bromeliad hybridizing were other involved activities which he passionately pursued. Registered Berg-bred hybrids include Aechmea 'Wally's Wand', 'Pink Candela', Billbergia 'Esther', Neoregelia 'Austin's Cool Orange', 'Big Mac Special', 'Brian's Beauty' and 'Devin's Delight'. Wally had a broad knowledge about bromeliad ecology, taxonomy, evolution, cultivation and exhibition. His friendly, generous nature in sharing that knowledge and giving of himself for the benefit of other people interested in bromeliads and for bromeliad organizations at all levels earned him international respect.
Wally's high esteem was reflected in a number of bromeliads being named after him: the natural hybrid Tillandsia x bergiana Takizawa & Koide, Pitcairnia bergii Luther, Guzmania bergii Luther, Neoregelia 'Wally Berg' (hybridist Odean Head) and the Berg wild-collected form of Aechmea blanchetiana, named 'Wally Berg' by John Anderson. Some of Wally and Dorothy Berg's achievements and adventures are featured on the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies' website: http://fcbs.org/ under Photo Index--Programs--see Berg Cage and Bromeliads in Habitat, both photographic presentations linked to eulogies and a memory page in honor of Wally, who set an inspiring example for us all.
BSI President Tom Wolfe initiated the idea and title "Wally Berg Award of Excellence" in 1999 as a permanent trophy in response to a number of BSI members who thought Wally Berg's achievements should be formally recognized. The BSI Board of Directors at their May, 2000 Annual Board Meeting appointed Dr. Theresa Bert to head an ad hoc committee established to define the criteria to be used in selecting potential recipients of the Award. Dan Kinnard, Jack Reilly and Hattie Lou Smith were the other ad hoc committee members, who felt the Award should reflect Wally's contributions to the bromeliad world and to the BSI. The Award is to be presented every two years at the World Bromeliad Conferences to the individual or couple selected by the BSI Board of Directors as most closely meeting the criteria. The Committee also clearly recognized that many well-qualified individuals or couples may not meet all of the listed criteria and therefore requested that each nominee should meet at least four of the seven criteria which were approved by the Board of Directors at its May, 2001 annual meeting. These inaugural criteria, printed in the BSI Journal Nov.-Dec. 2001, pp. 272-274 remain largely intact. Revised eligibility rules for nominees and nominators were passed by the Board of Directors in May 2005. Dr. Theresa Bert was appointed Curator of the Award in May, 2002, which position announces the call for nominations in the BSI Journal in each year preceding the Award presentation.
The Committee has created the following procedure for nominating individuals for the Wally Berg Award and for selecting the winner of the award.
Both the distribution of the nomination packages and the voting process will be significantly expedited through the use of email. Therefore, the Committee strongly recommends that all of the above components of the nomination and election process for the Award be executed via email.
The BSI Journal Jan/Feb, 2000 issue (page 39) announced the new Wally Berg Award of Excellence. Wally Berg died on 26th. March, 2000. At that stage no Award Criteria had been decided upon and the BSI Board considered that a fitting tribute at the imminent World Bromeliad Conference in San Francisco would be to present the first Award to Wally posthumously and also to Dorothy Berg for her team support in Wally's achievements.
|Dorothy Berg accepting the first award on behalf of Wally|
Nominees for the 2002 Wally Berg Award of Excellence included some of the top names in the bromeliad world: John Anderson, Don Beadle, Dennis Cathcart, Nat DeLeon, Harry Luther, and Sam & Hattie Lou Smith. All nominiees easily met the criteria for the award but it was Dennis Cathcart who was chosen as the 2002 winner of the award.
|Dennis Cathcart accepting the 2002 Wally Berg Award|
Nominees for the 2004 Wally Berg Award of Excellence added some new and very worthy names to the list: John Anderson, Grace Goode, Herb Plever, Sam & Hattie Lou Smith, and Tom Wolfe. This year it was Wally's good friend and companion from many collecting trips, John Anderson who was selected as the award recipient.
|Wally Berg Award 2004 Recipient John Anderson (accepted by Nelwyn Anderson)|
Grace Good was presented with the Wally Berg Award of Excellence at the 2008 World Confernce.
Notes Researcher: Geoff Lawn, BSI Australian Director 2003-5[an error occurred while processing this directive]