Howard Hite Award – 2023 Winner: Steve Williams

Steve Williams is our 2023 Howard Hite Award Winner. The information provided in nomination forms for Steve this year was outstanding. High praise for Steve and his hybridizing program made for an easy and unanimous decision. Finding words to describe Steve Williams is not difficult; the nomination forms stated Steve is deliberate, soft spoke, generous, humble, an educator and honorable gentleman. Steve and his wife Nancy have been married for 46 years, and have two sons, Jim & Mark. Steve was quick to give Nancy the credit for the weeding, mowing and maintenance. A member of the ADS since 1998 and he belongs to two Region 2 clubs, Metropolitan Columbus Daylily Society and the Ohio Daylily Society.

Steve’s mother was a gardener, and her neighbor was Bernie Grebus. When Steve and Nancy built their country home in 1991, Bernie asked if they would like some daylilies. Another generous person, Bernie gave Steve 16 daylily plants. Steve’s interest was piqued; he started searching for daylily catalogs. He found Gilbert Wild and made his first purchase. Shortly after, Steve met Dottie Warrell. (Dottie was the 2005 Hite Award Winner). He would pass by her garden and see the “Daylilies for Sale Sign”. He approached Dottie about a particular cultivar, which Dottie had given the garden name of “Turkey Foot”. After several attempts Steve finally convinced Dottie to part with a fan or two. Later on Dottie would register the plant as an unusual form named “Joseph’s Coat” HM – 2007.

Wanting to have more daylilies in his garden, when “Bee” pods appeared he collected them. He knew the cross (Mount Helena x Sdlg) (the seedling was one of those plants from Bernie Grebus). Eventually he would cross the resulting plants with “Double Bourbon”. The resulting pod had 11 seeds, and from these seeds came five introductions. His first introduction in 2009, “Bernie’s Fault”, was followed by Double Discovery in 2012, Pete’s Sake in 2014, Bernie’s Other Brother and Spicy Mustard in 2020. Being deliberate, Steve doesn’t rush to registration, taking time to consider the attributes of each cultivar before introduction.

Not only is Steve, the 2023 Howard Hite Award Winner, he has been recognized at the national level as well. In the past eight years he has received the following awards.

Six Honorable Mention Awards, Whatchamacallit – 2015, O’Bannon Orchid – 2017,

Bernie’s Fault – 2018, End of the Tunnel – 2018, Too Cute and 2020, Adavier – 2022.

O’Bannon Orchid was awarded the Award of Merit in 2020 and Too Cute was awarded the Don Fisher Memorial Cup in 2021 (Best Miniature).

The Howard Hite Award is to honor a Region 2 ADS member who has contributed notable achievements in the field of hybridizing. These achievements have been the results of years of dedication to a hybridizing program and have greatly influenced the world of daylilies.

The Award, established in 1989, is sponsored by The Southern Michigan Daylily Society and is named for the late Howard Hite.

Howard was an avid fan of daylilies. In the early 1960’s he began working on a hybridizing program which focused on the entire plant. Strong plants which could withstand the cold winters of Michigan. In 1968 he registered his first daylily “Angelus Bells” and for the next 35 or so years he worked tirelessly, and registered 125 cultivars.

Like most daylily hybridizers, Howard had dreams, he was working for a true blue daylily and he wanted to live to be 100 years old. He didn’t make it to his 100 birthday; however, a week prior to his 99th birthday he submitted his last registration. The daylily was registered as “Christine Walser Hite”, and was named for his mother. Shortly after submitting the registration he passed away.

Although the Howard Hite Award was established in 1989, it wasn’t until 1995 when Howard was presented the award. At that time he joined the ranks of other highly regarded hybridizers, Dr. Charles Branch, Bryant Millikan, Charles Recamp, and Steven Moldovan.

Criteria For Howard Hite Nominations

The Howard Hite Award is a free-form, sand-etched glass plate with an engraved image of Howard Hite’s H. ‘Indonesia’. The award is not based on the quantity of nominations for any individual, but on the quality of the individual’s years of hybridizing efforts to improve daylily cultivars.

The criteria for selection of a recipient are as follows:

  • The award is to honor a Region 2 ADS member who has contributed notable achievements in the field of hybridizing from years of a dedicated hybridizing program.
  • The award may be given each year only if a recipient is selected.
  • A person may receive the award only one time.
  • Deceased hybridizers may be considered for the award.
  • Any ADS Region 2 Member (including committee members) may submit names of possible recipients to the Awards and Honors Chair before April 15 of each year. The final selection will be determined by the Hite Award Committee composed of four members and the Regional President representing the five states in the Region.
  • Names of past nominees may be considered as possible candidates for future years.

2024 Howard Hite Nomination Form in .pdf format available HERE.

Howard Hite Award Winners

1990 Dr. Charles Branch

1991 No Award

1992 Bryant Millikan

1993 Brother Charles Reckamp

1994 Steve Moldovan

1995 Howard Hite

1996 Charles Griesbach

1997 Dennis Anderson

1998 Curt Hanson

1999 Margie Soules

2000 Jon Benz

2001 Leo Sharp

2002 Walter Jablonski

2003 Charles Applegate

2004 Dan Bachman

2005 Dottie Warrell

2006 Don Jerabeck

2007 Richard Norris

2008 Roy Klehm

2009 Jamie Gossard

2010 Robert Ellison

2011 Joel T Polston

2012 James Marsh

2013 Martin Kaminski

2014 Sandy Holmes

2015 Bret Clement

2016 Phil & Luella Korth

2017 Bob Faulkner

2018 John Kulpa

2019 Mandy McMahon

2020 No Award

2021 No Award

2022 Gerda Brooker

2023 Steve Williams