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Hybridizer Dr. P. A. Loomis (1875-1970)


The following taken from A.I.S. Bulletin #198(July 1970), pp 64-65:

Dr. Philip A. Loomis, pioneer western heart specialist and Colorado's most noted iris hybridizer, died March 9th at age 94.

Dr. Loomis was born Sept. 21, 1875, in Chicago, where he grew up and attended Rush Medical College from which he graduated in 1904. While in medical school Dr. Loomis contracted tuberculosis. With no effective drugs available at that tim physicians often recommended that TB patients seek the dry climate of Colorado with maximum exposur to air and sunshine. Accordingly, after his graduation from Rush, Dr. Loomis bought a round trip ticket from Chicago to Colorado Springs (round trip since he was not sure he would wish to stay) and arrived in Colorado to regain his health. Buying a team, wagon and camp equipment he roamed the hills of the mile-high state for several months and found his rigorous regimen in the salubrious climate effective; the TB conquered.

With the return half of his round trip ticket still in his pocket he decided to stay in Colorado a while longer and started his medical practice in Colorado Springs. Here he met and married Sara Jackson, daughter of Colorado pioneers. As a heart specialist Dr. Loomis installed the first electro-cardiograph machine west of the Mississippi River.

After retiring from a very successful practice Dr. Loomis was able to devote more attention to his interest in the iris, a hobby he liked but one his friends enjoyed even more, for a trek to the Loomis garden has always been the highlight of the Colorado iris season. With a magnificent view of Pikes Peak to the west, and tall evergreens protecting the iris planted in both formal beds and scattered about in smaller plantings, blooms were displayed to perfection. Phil and Sara Loomis welcomed all with warmest hospitality.

BLUE VELVET in 1929 was Dr. Loomis' first introduction. In 1931 the first pink bud iris bloomed in the Loomis garden. Though light in color and small in stature this variety, SEASHELL, was a major breakthrough in pink breeding. Displayed at the Chicago 1933-34 World's Fair, the planting brought forth expressions of disbelief from irisarians who maintained "Irises don't come in that color." With MOROCCO ROSE, introduced in 1937, SEASHELL is in the background of most of today's pink iris.

Best known of Loomis irises is ELMOHR. Introduced in 1942, at which time Kenneth Smith, writing in the Bulletin, said "I consider this the outstanding iris of the year. It is by far the best of the WILLIAM MOHR seedling," Elmohr quickly rose through the ranks and won the Dykes Medal in 1945. For 25 years it won Popularity Poll rating. Probably more plants of ELMOHR have been sold than any other variety.

ELMOHR was not the fortuitous result of a chance cross. Rather it was the result of an intensive hybridization program over many years. In a separate plot in northeast Coloralo Springs Dr. Loomis had over a thousand plants of WILLIAM MOHR. Over the years he made many thousands of crosses and bloomed hundreds of Mohr seedlings. Few were introduced, for Dr. Loomis was very reticent and felt his iris were never quite good enough for introduction. (He did admit to me once in recent years that just possibly ELMOHR had been worthy of introduction.) Big, beautiful SPANISH PEAKS, delicately traced CASTLE ROCK, and Mohr hybrid SARAMOHR belie this bashfulness. ASPENGLOW brought Dr. Loomis the President's Cup in 1963. In 1944 he was awarded the Society's Hybridizer's Medal and in 1966 the Board of Directors honored him with the Distinguished Service Medal.

Dr. Loomis was preceded in death by his wife, Sara, and is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Barbara Loomis Woodward, and a son, Philip. After carrying the stub of his return ticket in his wallet for 66 years, Phil Loomis has left Colorado. We miss him, but we are richer for having known such a wonderful man.


Arilbred: 'Elf', 'Elmohr', ''Persian Boy'', 'President', ''Sandy Mohr'', 'Sachem', 'Saramohr'.

Tall Bearded: 'Aspenglow', 'Blue Throat', 'Blue Velvet', 'Castle Rock', 'Chimney Sweep', 'Chromylla', 'Eilah', 'Erebian', 'Flopsy', 'Morocco Rose', 'Parachute', 'Parachute II', 'Pike's Peak Pink', 'Red Amber', 'Sachem', 'Sea Shell', 'Shirvan', 'Spanish Peaks', 'Spindrift', 'Springmaid', 'SQ72'.

-- Main.RPries - 2012-05-18

  • A.I.S. Bulletin No. 198(July 1970), p.64.
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Loomis.jpgjpg Loomis.jpg manage 23 K 13 May 2014 - 12:16 BobPries Curtesy of Mike Lowe from the original HIPS website
Topic revision: r13 - 25 Nov 2017, Betsy881
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