2023 ADS Awards (to people)

The Special Awards Committee thanks everyone in the American Dahlia Society for their continual support of the various awards programs. There are many different awards presented annually. Regardless of the type of award, they all focus on giving recognition to the volunteers and dahlia people that sustain one of the premier specialist plant societies in North America.


2023 ADS President’s Award

Shirley Bankston

The 2023 ADS President’s Award was presented to Shirley Bankston, Treasurer of the Portland Dahlia Society by Brad Freeman. This award, given annually by the ADS President, recognizes a person identified as someone who has made significant contributions to their local society and often beyond. The ADS recognizes that strong local societies make for a strong ADS and people like Shirley are a precious commodity. Congratulations to Shirley Bankston on receiving the ADS President’s Award in 2023.


2022 ADS Silver Medal Awardees

Special Awards was honored to present six ADS Silver Medals to Portland Dahlia Society members at the 2023 National Show. The Silver Medal is presented to individuals who have demonstrated a significant presence in the dahlia community. They serve as ambassadors not only for the dahlia but also for the American Dahlia Society. Awarding six ADS Silver Medals is unusual and results from the Portland Dahlia Society being one of the more dynamic member societies of the ADS. The PDS is moving forward because of the dedication, varied skills, imagination, and the hard work of its members. The PDS has a lot of member involvement. The people in the Portland Dahlia Society unselfishly share their knowledge and love for dahlias and the ADS believes this year’s ADS Silver Medal recipients typify what it means to be a dahlia ambassador.

Receiving ADS Silver Medals were:  

Gordon Jackman

Gordon is a well-known member in the Northwest dahlia world and beyond. His ability to create spectacular artistic floral designs is his claim to fame. Gordon has been a frequent participant in ADS National Shows; winning awards wherever the show may be. He is a recognized floral design expert, but most importantly, it is Gordon’s willingness to share his knowledge that makes him a true dahlia ambassador. The ADS is honored to present Gordon Jackman with an ADS Silver Medal.

Ted and Margaret Kennedy

Ted and Margaret need no introduction to people knowledgeable about dahlias. The name Hollyhill speaks volumes as most of our gardens contain at least some, if not several of these well-known cultivars. Margaret is known for her ability to create beautiful dahlia arrangements. Ted is an educator and an exceptional hybridizer and introducer of new dahlias. There is much to learn from the Kennedys, and they willingly share their knowledge. As an aside, Ted is also well-known for dispelling folk tales when it comes to growing dahlias, and in doing so, he brings a bit of humor into play. Where would we be today without Ted and Margaret Kennedy? Congratulations to Ted and Margaret on receiving the ADS Silver Medal.

Laura Oldenkamp

Laura is always available to meet various society needs and to keep the PDS moving forward. She was recently the co-president of the society. She has taken an active role in hosting this ADS National Show, serving on the Show Leadership Team in various capacities. Laura can be described as a go-to person for a range of society activities. Laura is a true ambassador for the Portland Dahlia Society and the greater dahlia community. Laura Oldenkamp is recognized by the American Dahlia Society as a worthy recipient of the ADS Silver Medal.

Mike Riordan

Mike has a long history with the Portland Dahlia Society and the Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference. Mike is a former PDS president, and he also served as the PNDC president and chair. He was membership chair and medal exchange person for the PDS for several years and he chaired the society’s show awards program for decades. Mike’s garden was a tour destination for the ADS National Show in 2012. It has been suggested though Mike is youthful, he may be the PDS member with the most seniority. Mike’s dahlia introductions include the prefix “Scott’s.” As a tribute to this man, ‘Scott’s Snocap’ was selected as a PDS “Dahlia of the Year.” The ADS is honored to recognize Mike Riordan as a dahlia ambassador with the ADS Silver Medal. For Mike, this may be considered a deserving award long time coming.

Larry Smith

Larry Smith has put his bountiful energy, media experience and knack for generating publicity to effective use for the Portland Dahlia Society. His enthusiasm is limitless when it comes to promoting the dahlia and dahlia societies. Beyond his dedication to the Portland Dahlia Society, he also leads the ADS Publicity Committee. Larry is continually challenging his local society, and the ADS, to increase their media presence. Larry gets the word out all for the betterment of the dahlia and dahlia people. Though his approach differs at times, his intentions are the same, and that is to be a good ambassador for the dahlia. All the things he accomplishes justifies Larry as a recipient of the ADS Silver Medal.

Eric Toedtli

Eric has been in the Portland Dahlia Society and the Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference for years. He is currently the ADS Representative for the PDS. His garden was included on the tours in 2012 when the PDS last hosted the ADS National Show. Eric is a member of this year’s National Show Leadership Team. His responsibilities often have included authoring the PNDC and PDS Show Schedules and for 2023, he was charged with coordinating the set-up of the exhibit hall and the honor table.

Eric is the originator of the “Felida” line of dahlias. ‘Felida Splendor’ was selected as one of the 2023 National Show’s “Dahlia of the Year.” We know that he grows a large dahlia patch and donates much of the stock he harvests to PDS fundraising. Obviously, Eric is heavily involved with the Portland Dahlia Society affairs. He is an ambassador for the dahlia and the American Dahlia Society believes he is commendable recipient of the ADS Silver Medal.

Roger Walker


ADS Gold Commemorative Medals

Five ADS Gold Commemorative Medals were presented at the 2023 National Show to Portland Dahlia Society members who were especially identified for the planning and executing of various parts of the 2023 ADS National Show. Some of these people took on multiple responsibilities. These five PDS members are:

Dan Baulig
Teresa Bergman
Adrienne Hale
Max Ollieu
Julene Pickard

Thank you from the ADS for your time and efforts at making the 2023 National Show a success. We appreciate your hospitality and dedication.


Special Awards was also pleased to coordinate with Bob Schroeder, Chair of the Judges Accreditation Committee, medal awards to accompany certificates recognizing the two separate teams that recently updated the ADS Guide to Judging Dahlias and developed the online judges training curriculum, otherwise known as the “Judges Online Training Modules.” Each member on these teams received an engraved ADS Gold Commemorative Medal and a certificate provided by the Judges Accreditation Committee. These two initiatives required substantial time and dedication from the team members. Congratulations to both teams and their leader, Bob Schroeder. Bob credits ADS President Brad Freeman for encouraging the committee to update the ADS judging programs.


The “Guide to Judging Dahlias” revision team included:

Tony Evangelista
Brad Freeman
Arthur Haskins
Jo Jepsen
Marian Landerholm
John Morton
Lou Paradise
Karen Sanchez
Terry Schroeder
Roger Walker
Marilyn Walton
Chair: Bob Schroeder


The Dahlia Judging “Curriculum Team” included:

Kathy Burke
Laura Oldenkamp
Mike Parrish
Dick Parshall
Terry Schroeder
Heidi Smaby
Jim Teeple
Karen Zierdt
Chair: Bob Schroeder


The ADS “Clean Stock Offensive” Award


Linda Taylor and Prabu Gnanasekaran

The ADS initiated a new award in 2022, the ADS Clean Stock Offense Award. Last year this award gave recognition to four people who have actively supported the society’s Virus Research Project. We know that without healthy dahlias, we have little to sustain our love for this plant. The ADS Clean Stock Offense Award is not a perpetual award of the Society; thus, its duration has not been determined. Suffice to say, there are more eligible recipients who deserve recognition for the work they have done to educate us on what we can do to have healthier dahlias.

For 2023, the Clean Stock Offense Award was presented at 2023 ADS National Show to: Linda Taylor and Dr. Prabu Gnanasekaran. Linda is a member of the ADS Dahlia Research Committee and the Canby Trial Garden Director. Dr. Gnanasekaran is a plant pathologist and researcher at Washington State University. We extend our thanks to both recipients.

Remember, “If in doubt, throw it out!”


ADS Attaboy Award

Mark Oldenkamp

Mark Oldenkamp was presented with a special one-time award, theADS Attaboy Award.”  Mark is the current ADS First Vice President. Policy dictates that ADS officers, meaning those in positions of highest responsibility, are not considered for certain medal awards. That is our tradition and practice. In the case of Mark, Special Awards decided that due to his untiring efforts, both nationally, locally, and for the 2023 National Show, he deserved special recognition. While the award is a bit tongue-in-cheek, it was also meant to commend Mark for his excellent work. Presented to Mark Oldenkamp at the 2023 National Show was a period piece that had been passed on to Special Awards. It is an early version of the ADS Medal. We know this relic will be in good hands.


2023 American Dahlia Society Gold Medals

Special Awards was privileged to present two ADS Gold Medals at the 2023 National Show in Portland, Oregon. The ADS Gold Medal is the highest medal award given by the Society.


Rosemary Freeman

Rosemary Freeman, who has long and faithfully served the American Dahlia Society, was presented an ADS Gold Medal. Rosemary has been the ADS’s New Society Coordinator since late 2007. From a less than spectacular beginning where she sent out more than 450 questionnaires and received only 31 responses, to today, where our newest societies are thriving after receiving Rosemary’s guidance; the “New Society” effort has been a resounding success. Beyond Rosemary’s dedication to fledgling societies, the recent digitized publication, “American Dahlia Society National Show Guidelines,” was largely compiled by her. This document contains valuable, time-tested information for societies that are contemplating hosting a National Show. Collaborating with her husband, ADS President Brad Freeman, Rosemary’s contributions to the ADS have been varied and meaningful. Congratulations to Rosemary Freeman, who very deservingly received the ADS Gold Medal in 2023.



Anthony Evangelista

Anthony Evangelista, otherwise known as Tony, was also a recipient of an ADS Gold Medal at the 2023 National Show. Tony currently serves as the ADS Second Vice President of ADS. Tony’s contributions to the Society have been unique and valuable. He has been a frequent contributor to the Bulletin. His many technical articles have bolstered the content of our publication. He leans towards organic methodology which is popular in today’s gardening scene. Tony has been active on committees, always willing to be part of a team. He has taken his board position seriously and more than anything else, he has been a big advocate for the ADS. Tony ticks all the boxes when it comes to growing, showing, and mentoring. His demeaner has spoken volumes, he has friended many, and those who know him are his biggest advocates. Tony Evangelista is a dahlia man deserving of the Society’s highest award, the ADS Gold Medal.


From all in the ADS, we congratulated Rosemary Freeman and Tony Evangelista. They are our 2023 ADS Gold Medal recipients.


Awards were also presented at the 2023 Midwest Dahlia Conference Show Hosted by the Greater Pittsburgh Dahlia Society

The American Dahlia Society was honored to present Bob and Judy Romano with the ADS Silver Medal at the 2023 Midwest Dahlia Conference Show. Bob and Judy are well known ADS and MDC members, and they unquestionably meet the criteria as dahlia ambassadors.

John Williams was presented with the ADS’s Special Commemorative Gold Medal for his untiring dedication to making the 2023 Midwest Dahlia Conference Show a success.

Two ADS “Clean Stock Offense” awards were presented to Jerry Moreno and Randy Foith. These men were recognized for their contributions to the ADS’s initiative to combat the negative effects of virus in our dahlia gardens.


Special Awards again thanks all ADS members for giving us the opportunity to give deserving recognition to people who are proponents of the dahlia and most of all, who are supportive of other dahlia people. To quote Linda Holmes-Cook, “Dahlias Connect People” .


Picture Gallery (including additional pictures):

President's Award to Shirley Bankston

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2022 Awards

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2015 Awards