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Ball, Walter, Raska among SAF honorees at annual convention in Phoenix

Anna Ball, owner and chief executive officer of Ball Horticultural Co.; Virginia R. Walter, a professor and researcher at California Polytechnic State University; and Jerome Raska, a floral designer, speaker and teacher; were among those honored at the Society of American Florists annual convention in Phoenix in late September.

Ball won the society’s highest honor, induction into its hall of fame for what awards committee chairman Terril Nell called “a well-deserved reputation for clear, strategic thinking and big picture insight,” according to a news release. “Ultimately, what drives Anna Ball and her company,” said Nell, “is her passion for the industry and helping the industry meet the desires and tastes of the consumer.” Ball Horticultural is located in West Chicago, IL.

Walter received the Alex Laurie Award for her contributions to floriculture research and education over a 35-year career. “Talk to anyone about Virginia Walter and eventually the subject will come around to one thing — how she has touched the lives of literally hundreds of horticulture students fortunate enough to have taken her courses and interacted with her,” said awards committee member Rod Saline of Engwall Florist & Greenhouses in Duluth, MN.

Raska, a Detroit area designer, retailer and event planner, earned the Tommy Bright Award for lifetime achievement in floral presentation conferred by SAF’s Professional Floral Communicators-International. “When we think of Tommy Bright qualities, we think of three words: Positive, energy, leader. Jerome epitomizes all three,” said PFCI Chairman Vince Butera, owner of Butera The Florist in York, PA.

Nine new members were elected by Society of American Florists members to serve on the association’s retailers, wholesalers and growers councils. Board elections took place during the convention and via absentee ballot and the new members began their terms Sept. 21 at the close of the association’s annual convention in Phoenix, according to a news release.

New council members are:

• Retailers Council. Bridget Carlson, Ashland Addison Florist Co., Chicago; Chad Freytag, Freytag’s Florist, Austin, TX; and Tony Medlock, PJ’s Flowers & Events, Phoenix.

• Wholesalers Council. Ben Powell, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, Miami; Jacque Sir Louis, Smithers-Oasis North America, Kent, Ohio; and Gay Smith, Chrysal USA, Miami.

• Growers Council. Andrew Bishop, Green Leaf Plants, Lancaster, PA; Janet Louie, Green Valley Floral, Salinas, CA; and Mike Mooney, Dramm & Echter, Encinitas, CA. The nine new members join a total of 25 continuing members on the three councils.