The NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Collie Club of America’s Quarter Century Collie Group recognize legendary individuals who have made significant contributions and greatness in their sport. This year, Collie fanciers gathered the evening before their National Specialty in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to induct Virginia Holtz and Joan Graber into the Quarter Collie Group Hall of Fame and to honor Debbie Holland with their Right Stuff Award.
President Tom Coen welcomed everyone, and following dinner, he and Shannon Hayes surprised well-deserving Right Stuff Award recipient Debbi Holland. Here’s how Shannon wowed the crowd with the accomplishments of her close friend:
“Our 2023 The Right Stuff honoree was born in Tennessee but grew up in Texas, just outside of Dallas-Fort Worth, in Arlington. As a child, part of her family’s regular Saturday activities involved a trip to the library. Debbie would race up the stairs to the second level and all the way to the back shelves. That’s where the books on animals lived. She would scour those shelves, reading any and all stories that involved horses and dogs. Debbie knew all about the Black Stallion and all about Big Red. She was set on having an Arabian horse and an Irish Setter.
Then one day, her eyes lit on a book called Lad a Dog. From this encounter, her world was redirected and a new and quite permanent path was forged. Through those stories, Albert Payson Terhune shared with her, and probably most of us, the regal, yet humble and sometimes gregarious character of Lad, his big mahogany sable male Collie. Thank goodness for libraries and the stories within them that capture and hold our imaginations.
At the age of 13, Debbie’s first Collie, Flash, bounded into her life. He quickly wound his way into her heart, becoming her best friend and confidant. Though Flash was from a local puppy mill, in her 13-year-old Lad-obsessed eyes, he was beautiful. In those days, she did not want a show dog anyway because she thought they had poor temperaments. So, for Debbie, Flash was without fault. Except for the fact that he was quite unruly, and closer to a wild animal than her visions of the Sunnybank Collies.
Thankfully, her mom happened to see an article in the Ft. Worth Star Telegraph about the local 4-H dog training program. And so, Flash and Debbie joined 4-H. Thank goodness for 4-H and all the doors it opens for our young people. Debbie worked hard to prepare Flash for the Tarrant County 4-H dog show. Twice a day, they trained in obedience and in junior handling. Every day she patiently groomed him, sometimes making some interesting choices with her trimming, like when she scissored off all the hair hanging from midsection.
As Debbie’s 4-H show ring debut approached, excitement grew. She would put Flash through his obedience paces, trying to shape him into her own version of the Sunnybank dogs. But at their very first dog show, out of 200 possible points in obedience, this team of Debbie and Flash scored a measly 26 points. Feeling disappointed about Flash’s obedience performance, the team re-entered the show ring for their first junior showmanship competition. And the duo was victorious. Debbie was named Best Junior Handler. And, spoiler alert, that changed her life.
Bitten by the dog show bug, in 1976, at about 19 years old, she joined the Collie Club of America. Soon after, she moved in with Peggy Conger of Con-Te Collies to help Peggy with her dogs. At Peggy’s, she began handling some of the Con-Te dogs, and enjoyed some early success, including with a tri-headed white Smooth, Ch Con-Te Danto Domino, the top-winning white Collie in 1981.
Debbie co-bred her first litters with Peggy. In 1985, she finished her first bred and owned Champions under the Fantasy kennel name—Ch. Fantasy’s Eye of the Tiger and Ch. Fantasy’s Here I Am, both roughs. Around the same time, she also finished her first smooths—Ch. Fantasy’s Smooth Escapade, Ch. Fantasy’s Sudden Impact, and Ch. Con-Te Smooth Fantasy (bred by Peggy). She was quiet and shy in those early days (and sometimes still quiet and shy today). But she would soak up everything about dog shows like a sponge.
And at those shows, Debbie’s keen eye began following Guy and Thelma Mauldin of Kismet Shelties. In Texas, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Mauldins stood out from everyone else. Their dogs were clean and beautifully groomed, then presented to perfection. Debbie started to show up ringside for Shelties to watch the Mauldins. From time to time, Guy would even ask her to take a dog back in for winners. Slowly, she got to know them and occasionally helped out by going to their kennel to let dogs out when Guy and Thelma traveled to see family. When fire destroyed Peggy Conger’s home, including all of Debbie’s possessions too, Guy rang up Debbie to see if she wanted a job at his kennel and she jumped at the opportunity.
And with this opportunity the real foundation was laid for all that was and is to come for Fantasy Collies, as well as for some of the most skilled breeder handlers in our Collie community. A few other stars among our breed spent time at Kismet after Debbie, including Jenny Rutkas, Matt Stelter, Pete Denbow, Crystal Stoner, and Debbie Price.
At Kismet, the dogs always came first and there was a commitment to excellence. The kennel was expected to be kept spotless by Debbie’s elbow grease. The large number of dogs housed there, both Kismet- and client-owned, were meticulously cared for with a daily schedule of grooming and conditioning. Mornings were early and spent road working dogs until the hot Texas sun chased them back to the kennel. Wednesdays were spent at the airport, where Debbie would arrive early and return late, as she received the bitches for that week’s breedings. This was the era of Ch. Banchory High Born ROM, sire of 83 Champions, Ch. Karelane Royal Flush O’Kismet, Ch. Philidove Kismet Heir Borne, Ch. Kismet’s Status Quo, and Ch. Kismet’s Status Symbol. It was a literal candy store of some of the most prominent and influential Sheltie sires of their time.
During Debbie’s 7-1/2 years at Kismet, she became well-versed at stud dog management, caring for a large kennel of dogs, whelping and raising puppies, selecting show prospects, proper conditioning for the show ring, grooming and trimming heads like a piece of art… and she became a skilled handler—a fierce competitor in the show ring. At Kismet, her envious instincts for mating selection were honed. Those beautiful Shelties and endless discussions about dog breeding had a major influence on her eye for dogs and her preference for exquisite profiles shaped by a beautiful skull and well-placed stop.
In 1985, Tartanside Presentation “Fitzy” had gone Winners Dog at the Collie National in Ontario, California, handled by John Buddie. Fitzy was owned by Diane Fitzpatrick of Alfenloch Collies in Canada. He had earned a reputation for being difficult to show and disliking the show ring. With a desire to finish his Championship, John suggested that Diane should send the dog to an up and coming handler, named Debbie Holland, to see what she could do with the dog.
Debbie, as she does, made a connection with Fitzy—he loved her—and she was able to pilot him to his Championship in 1988. With Fitzy, she applied the same approach she uses and preaches today —and that is, believe in the dog at the end of your lead—envision the outcome and the perfect performance you want from them. She’s said about Tartanside Presentation that, really, all he needed was someone to believe in him again. And she did.
As a bonus for guiding Fitzy to his Championship, Diane agreed to give Debbie a breeding to one of her dogs. And in 1989, at the Collie National in Colorado Springs, Debbie approached Diane’s ex-pens to see the Alfenloch dogs. And there, she was immediately struck by the soft face and beautiful eye of the handsome Ch. Alfenloch Masterpiece, a double grandson of Ch. Tartanside Presentation ROM.
Debbie’s breeding of a young Ch. Tartanside Presentation daughter to Masterpiece produced Ch. Fantasy’s True To The Master ROM, “Abbie.” Abbie was bred to Ch. Vennessee’s Sculptured in Blue, ROM to produce Ch. Fantasy’s Cover Girl ROM “Cuddles.” Breeding Cuddles to Ch. Vennessee’s Midnight Edition ROM created the top-producing Collie of all time.
Ch. Fantasy’s Bronze Talisman ROM is the sire of 183 Champions to date and with the potential to still add to his tally in coming years. He just added Champion No. 183 last month. Nearly every Collie at Fantasy today traces back to these breedings, as well as so many of the dogs entered in our national show this week.
Around the time Abbie was a puppy, Debbie had moved to Indiana, striking out on her own handling career. After she had easily finished a bitch of Raptorvale breeding for one of her early clients, Chizuko Kawabata of Japan, Chizuko asked to purchase a dog that Debbie had acquired through handling—Ch. Nationview Powerline “Sting.”
After a short business partnership with Julie Metz of Argyll Collies in Indianapolis in the early ‘90s, Debbie was able to take the earnings from Sting’s sale to Chizuko and purchase a few acres in Center Point, Indiana. That property became, and today is still, the home of Fantasy Collies. Now, Center Point, Indiana, in my estimation, is not the center of anything, but it did provide a permanent Midwest home that would allow easy travel to and ample options for dog show circuits. And it was a strategic decision to locate about 20 minutes south of Mary Landes of Rainbow Collies.
Mary had befriended Debbie a few years earlier, realizing that Debbie’s tendency to quietness was misunderstood by many of her peers and the hardworking handler was just shy and nothing more. As Debbie tells it, Mary would NOT leave her alone. Traveling to dog shows nearly every weekend, of course, means you need reliable kennel help back at home. Mary’s son, Jackson, agreed to work at Fantasy, and helped build the first kennels there. And Mary began traveling to shows with Debbie, continuing to exhibit her own successful Rainbow Collies while assisting Debbie. This collaboration has sustained for more than three decades. Thank goodness for Mary and all the support she has provided over these many years.
And over these decades there has been tremendous success as well as significant heartache. As we all know, breeding and showing dogs is not for the faint of heart. Debbie’s breeding and handling triumphs of the last 30-plus years include 39 CCA winners and 21 ROMs.
But along with her breeding program success and the success of her clients, Debbie has long been a teacher at heart, passing on some of her many learnings through seminars in all corners of the U.S. She is a past and longtime member of the CCA’s Breeders’ Education Committee, and has presented at several seminars in Japan as well on behalf of her longtime clients there, Chizuko Kawabata and Sally Watanabe.
Debbie has also given of her time, many years, to help ensure the success of our National Show by serving as grooming chairperson and taking on the often-challenging job of coordinating and juggling the endless location-related requests.
There are, of course, more stories I could tell, about the endless adventures over the years, and each one of the dogs in the photos I shared has their own special story. But this is the Collie National and we have some dogs that we’re excited to show tomorrow and I know Debbie is anxious to get back to work to make sure they’re perfect.
So, to close, we’ll go back near the beginning, and I’ll leave you with a story about Debbie’s source of resilience and of her favorite place. As a teenager, when she and Flash, her first Collie, would become frustrated over training challenges, Debbie would regroup and strategize on how she would overcome. Heading back to her parents’ house, the tall, scrawny teenager would stretch out the length of their couch, open up one of Terhune’s books and read and re-read the stories while munching on pecan sandies. Washing down the cookies with cold milk, she would get lost over and over again in those stories about The Place and about the capers of the Sunnybank Collies. No matter the reason for frustration, losing herself in those stories would always make everything ok again.
For decades now, every August, she turns into the drive at Sunnybank in Wayne, New Jersey, her van usually loaded with young show prospects. When she turns down that driveway, the air around her lifts, the chimes hanging from her rearview mirror jingle softly in welcome. As she arrives at The Place, the pictures she carries in her head from Terhune’s stories of Collies bounding across the lawn and swirling up from the banks of the lake are witnessed in full-dimension in her imagination once again.
Each visit there is a time for her to reflect on the dogs that have forever entangled themselves in her heart, like Brandon, Cuddles, Louie, Kent, Nate, McKenzie, and so many, many more. She drinks in the goodness of just being there at Sunnybank, and stores up a little bit of The Place’s magic to help carry her and her Collie family, both two- and four-legged, safely through the coming year’s adventures, in the show ring, in the whelping box, and sometimes on the other side of the world in Japan.
So, once upon a time, there was a girl named Debbie, who loved Collies. Though we didn’t get to talk much about them this evening, she also loves horses, and Havanese, and cats, and goats, and all kinds of birds. But she really, really loves Collies. While this is the end of the story for this evening, in so many ways, it’s still only the beginning of Debbie’s story and her everlasting impact on our beloved Collie breed.”
CCA Treasurer Mike Esch was next at the podium to honor Virginia Holtz and Joan Graber with their induction into the Quarter Century Group Hall of Fame. Mike reminisced, sharing their following achievements in the sport:
“Tonight, I have the honor of introducing two ladies, Virginia (Ginny) Holtz and Joan Graber, into the Quarter Century Collie Group Hall of Fame.
My first recollection of the “Girls” (as many people called them) was driving with my dad to a place called Tanglewood and going up a meandering driveway. While approaching the old farmhouse you could see the old barn and kennel runs. They had well over 70 dogs on the property that day, Collies and Westies. It was truly Collie heaven!
Joan and Ginny each had their own breeding program, infrequently combining the two lines. Their dogs were bred along similar lines but were distinctly different. Early on, Ginny branched out to include smooth Collies in her breeding program. Over the years, Joan’s interest switched from the Collies to West Highland White Terriers where she also proved to be very successful. Ginny and Joan were a study in opposites. Ginny was the quiet and composed one. She imparted an aura of peace and gentleness no matter what was going on around her. I never saw her flustered or upset. Joan, on the other hand, was a bustling, take charge sort of person, who felt she was always right. And, more times than not, she was!
Both were astute and popular judges. Ginny was content with just Collies and Juniors whereas Joan was continuously adding other breeds to her resume. She was eventually approved for judging many Herding breeds, several breeds from the Working Group, all Terriers, and Best in Show. Their interest in Breeder Education was evident by their many years of chairing the CCA’s Breed Education Committee. Ginny’s knowledge of coat color and inheritance led her to write several articles on the topics. Joan chaired the CCA Show Rules Committee for years and was instrumental in gaining approval from AKC for the flow of today’s Collie National.
Joan was born in 1932 and grew up in Brookfield, Wisconsin. She was a registered nurse for 30 years in the Mendota Mental Health Institute’s training department, doing training throughout the State of Wisconsin. Joan bought her first Collie in 1953. She and Ginny Holtz started a partnership breeding and showing Collies in the middle 1950s. They moved together to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1956 and eventually, in 1960, to their farm known as Tanglewood in Middletown, Wisconsin. Joan acquired her first Collie in 1956, Judy Ann’s Shining Star, who was from Sterling breeding. She was bred to Vi-lee males descending from Silver Ho Parader. Three generations later, Joan produced a litter that is important to Collie History. She bred her bitch Rudh’re Shiel Bri to Ginny’s Ch. Cul Mor Conspirator and had four puppies.
Ginny’s choice of the litter became Ch. Cul Mor’s Highland Holly. She went to Gene and Carol Chapman and jump-started the Hanover breeding program by producing four Champions including Ch. Two Jay’s Hanover Enterprise ROM, one of the breed’s top sires with 49 Champions. Joan kept Ch. Rudh’Re’s Gay Gwyneth, who finished at 10 months. Gwyneth did a lot of winning and is still considered one of the truly beautiful Collie bitches of all time.
In 1962, Joan began breeding West Highland White Terriers and joined the Westie parent club in 1969. Her most famous Westie was Ch. Rudh Re’s Glendenning, ROM. In both 1973 and 1974 Joan received the annual award by the Westie parent club for Best of Breed owner-bred. She served on the Board, chaired their Judges Education Committee, co-wrote their first Illustrated Standard, and was their Yearbook editor from 1985-1990. She judged their national Specialty in 1986 and 2000, a huge honor.
Joan started judging in the early seventies. She was voted to judge the CCA in 1989 and 2003, both times judging Intersex and then, in addition, she was asked to judge Juniors in 2003. In 1989, her BB was Ch. Jil Chris Liberty Legend.
For more than five decades Joan was a breeder, exhibitor, judge, and a tireless club worker. She joined the Collie Club of Southern Wisconsin in 1954 and held every office, including president. A CCA member since 1956, she was a District Director and co-chaired the Judge and Breeder Education Committee from 1993 to 2002. She chaired the CCA Show Rules Committee and served as Chair of the Judges Education Committee. She was the Show Chair for her local All-Breed Club, The Badger Kennel Club. I am sure you would agree Joan is a worthy addition to our Hall of Fame.
A longtime breeder, exhibitor, educator, and popular judge, Ginny’s smooth breeding program was instrumental in establishing the smooth Collie in this country. However, she also had some wonderful rough Collies and many ended up being just as influential as her smooths. Amazingly, she is one of only a few Collie breeders to be involved in the development of both varieties.
Ginny received her undergraduate and master degrees in Library Science. Few Collie people know that she had a long and distinguished career in the field of library science that included many awards and distinctions, including “Librarian of the Year.” After her retirement, she not only had more time for her dogs but she loved gardening, remodeling the house, and going to the theater. Ginny passionately read and she was a self-proclaimed history buff.
Ginny’s involvement with Collies started with roughs in 1956 with the purchase of the bitch Sunnymar Pleasant Hill Gem from Dr. Borman of Mab Acre Collies who was in whelp to his Intl. Ch. Addition of Lilac Lane. From the litter came Cul Mor’s M’Lady Frolic, Ginny’s first point winner and the foundation for the Cul Mor rough breeding program.
Deciding that she wanted to base her breeding program on the sons of Silver Ho Parader, she found the best possible source at the Teecumsee Kennels owned by John Lindeman. In 1958 Cul Mor’s M’Lady Frolic was bred to Ch. Teecumsee Temptor (Silver Ho Parader son) and produced one of Ginny’s all-time favorites and her most famous rough Collie; the red mahogany dog, Ch. Cul Mor’s Conspiratour, ROM., call name “Brutus” or “Bru”.
By the time Bru was 6 months old, though immature in coat and body, his lovely head was fully developed. He finished with three majors at the age of two. He was shown sparingly as a Special, with the highlight of his show career winning the Stud Dog class at the 1963 National. That day, he had six of his get in the ring with him, two of them being his future CCA Best of Breed (1964 and 1966) winning son, Ch. Clown Prince of Floravale, and his beautiful mahogany daughter, Ch. Rudh’re Gae Gwyneth.
Bru was the leading sire throughout the 1960s because he blended so well with many of the day’s Parader offshoots. He became known far and wide for both his rough and smooth offspring. Not only did they do significant winning in the show ring, but several helped in establishing future Collie families.
Not only did he produce well for where he sired multiple Champions for both Cul Mor and Rudh’re, but early on Bru seemed to blend well with Ch. Cherrivale Darn Minute offspring, but ultimately his greatest influence came from crosses with Ch. Parader’s Country Squire or his close descendants.
The most famous product of this cross was Ch. Two Jay’s Hanover Enterprise, ROM who was sired by Ch. Parader’s Country Squire out of a Bru daughter, Ch. Cul Mor’s Highland Holly owned by the Chapmans of Hanover Collies. Enterprise went on to produce 49 Champions.
The reverse Conspirator/Squire breeding also worked well when it produced Ch. Arrowhill Oklahoma Tornado who was sired by Conspirator out of Ch. Arrowhill Bee Beautiful, a Country Squire daughter. Tornado sired 8 Champions and is another CCA winner behind many current families. Conspirator is multiple times behind Ch. Twin Creeks True Grit ROM and Ch. Fantasy’s Bronze Talisman ROM.
Other famous rough Champion get sired by Bru include the earlier mentioned CCA BOB Ch. The Clown Prince of Floravale, Ch. Floravale Perfect Gentlemen, and Ch. Lick Creek Rip Tide.
When it was all said and done, this beautiful-headed red sable dog sired 26 Champions, 20 rough and 6 smooth, thus earning him Register of Merit status through the Collie Club of America.
Here is one story that many may not know. Ginny sold Bru as a pet at 10 weeks of age for $50 to a local family. Yes, the dog that would go on and be the foundation for many of the top Midwest Collie Kennels in the 1980s and 1990s was sold as a pet. Well, the family called Ginny about 4-5 months later and told her that they could not keep the puppy and would she take him back and return their money. She agreed and as they say, the rest is history. Talk about fate.
When Ginny started in smooths, her involvement began with an early smooth breeder, Tom Kilcullen, of Ebonwood Collies. In 1958 Ginny decided she wanted a puppy from Ch. Belle Mount Bambi. Not only was Bambi the best smooth around but she traced back to the original breedings done by Margaret Haserot of Pebble Ledge Collies fame. Bambi won five Working Group placements and she defeated the roughs one time, an unheard-of feat. Her grandam was Ch. Pebble Ledge Bambi, the first smooth Champion in 38 years.
When Tom let Ginny raise a 1958 litter from Bambi, the Cul Mor breeding program was born. Sired by the Best in Show winning rough, Ch. Bellochanty Belafonte (line bred Ch. Hazeljane’s Bright Future) the litter produced Ginny’s first two smooth Champions, Ch. Cul Mor’s Babette of Ebonwood (Bubbles) and Ch. Cul Mor’s Kilcullen O’Ebonwood (Tom). Bubbles went on to go smooth BOV at the 1959 National and Tom went BOV smooth at the 1960 National. Tom (named for Tom Kilcullen) went on to sire 8 Champions. Ginny was the first rough breeder of note to develop a smooth breeding program.
In 1959 Ginny leased another Bambi daughter from Tom and bred her to Ch. Cul Mor’s Kilcullen O’Ebonwood (making it a double up on Bambi). The litter produced Cul Mor’s Dalmally who hated to show but was a good producer. She was bred to Conspiratour and produced the lovely CCA winner, Ch. Cul Mor’s Calpurina. This was Bru’s first smooth litter.
One of Ginny’s best smooth sires and a top winner during the 1970s was a dog named Ch. Cul Mor’s Bow Street Runner (co-owned with Dorothy Kanter). He was a tri-color dog whelped in 1968 who went on to sire 15 Champions.
Of her bitches, Ch. Cul Mor’s Birken Shaw stands out. A blue merle smooth, she was Ginny’s top-producing smooth dam with 11 Champions. She was the dam of one of Ginny’s favorites, a tricolor male Ch. Cul Mors’s The Maltese Falcon sired by Ch. Black Hawk of Kasan.
Ginny had the honor of judging the National Specialty three times; Bitches in 1982, Dogs in 1989, and then Bitches in 1999. As a judge on what she wanted to see, and I quote her: “faulty expression is a reasonably reliable predictor for lack of merit in head structure, especially in stop and eye, and a good expression is the final test of the quality of the headpiece. Good expression is the best test of proper head structure”
In retrospect, the Cul Mor smooth Collies and Ginny’s interest in the smooth variety are largely responsible for the present-day quality and popularity of the smooth Collie. She continued her rough breeding program alongside her smooth and had great success interbreeding the two varieties at a time when this was rarely done. By the time Ginny was done, she had bred 56 Champions, and 53 of them were smooths. I am sure you would agree, Ginny is a worthy addition to our Hall of Fame.
I see Joan and Ginny every day in my home office. I look at the picture of Joan giving my son his Best Junior award at the 2003 National. My Dad and I had purchased a smooth sable female from Dorothy Kanter back in 1974. The maternal grandfather was Ch. Cul Mor’s Bow Street Runner and the paternal grandfather was Ch. Cul Mor’s Marcus Antonius. The third and fourth generations included each and every one of the Cul Mor’s dogs I have mentioned this evening. That smooth sable female in the picture was named Ch. Verlor’s Charmer of Lick Creek (call name Tracy) and she won BOV at the 1977 Dallas national. She ended up producing 13 champions, including multiple CCA national winners.
As Tom Coen has mentioned, back in the 1950s and 1960s, smooths looked like farm herding dogs, plain looking and without many of the finer attributes that we see today. In that period, rough breeders were not willing to allow their roughs sires to be bred to smooths bitches and only a very small handful, 2-3 breeders, were willing to do it. Ginny was the one in the Midwest.
In the 1970s as a few people like Ginny started breeding their roughs to smooths and those dogs started to get into the show ring, we started to see dogs like Ch. Black Hawk of Kasan, Bow Street Runner and Tracy coming on the show scene.
Judges at the time were used to seeing the older style of dogs in the ring and these new body and head type dogs were so foreign in the ring that judges assumed the newer dogs must not be correct Collie type. But over time as these dogs became more visible in the ring, other rough breeders started to take note and their popularity started to climb into the 1980s and 1990s. Today we have over 100 beautiful Smooth specials at the 2023 CCA National.
In closing, both women were experts in their own rights. Both Virginia Holtz and Joan Graber gave a lot to the breed in time and dedication, and both are welcome into the Hall of Fame.”
The memorable occasion was due to the planning of Quarter Century Group Officers, President Tom Coen, Vice President Leslie Jeszewski, Treasurer Heather Newcomb, and Darcy Brown. Notably absent was Leslie Jeszewski, who was at home nursing two broken wrists! Let’s hope to see Leslie healed and back at the shows very soon!
Joan Marie Graber
To know Joan Graber was to know a delightful, no-nonsense, “take charge” kind of woman who made it her mission to give any endeavor she took on, her 100% best effort. When Joan passed, the Collie and West Highland White Terrier Community lost an incredibly hard-working individual, breeder, educator, and judge.
In 1952, Joan grew up in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and graduated from St. Mary’s School of Nursing. For more than 30 years she worked as a registered nurse in the Mendota Mental Health Institute’s training department. Not only did Joan do training at the Institute, but also throughout the state.
Joan, however, will be most remembered and missed for her great contributions to the world of Collies and Westies, as well as her AKC judging credentials. Joan bought her first Collie in 1953 and under the Rudh’Re prefix, bred and showed Collies beginning in 1954, and West Highland White Terriers beginning in 1962. When Joan acquired her first Collie, “Judy Ann’s Shining Star,” it was through the purchase of “Star” and her breeders, Harley and Durrell Preston, that she met Virginia Holtz. She and Ginny moved to the Madison area in 1956, and in 1960 to Middleton, Wisconsin, where they collaborated in a passion of breeding and showing dogs.
The enduring partnership of “The Girls,” as they were fondly referred to, lasted from the mid 1950s, until the time of their passing. Joan and Ginny each had her own breeding program, combining their lines on occasion, but only now and then. When they were combined, the results turned out to be rewarding. Although Ginny’s name will forever be associated with her well-known CH. Cul Mor’s Conspiratour, ROM, when “Bru” was bred to a Rudh’Re bitch, they produced Joan’s favorite, the outstanding CH. Rudh’Re’s Gae Gwyneth, his beautiful mahogany daughter.
Joan’s dedication to the dog world speaks for itself. Joan had been a member of the Collie Club of Southern Wisconsin (CCSW) since 1954, the Collie Club of America (CCA) since 1956, the Badger Kennel Club (BKC) since 1958, and the West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA) since 1969. Over the years she served as President of the Collie Club of Southern Wisconsin, as Wisconsin District Director on the CCA Executive Board, as well as a member of different CCA, BKC, and WHWTCA committees.
In recent years, Joan was the Chair for the Show Rules Committee for CCA, co-chaired the Education Committee for the CCA, and was the Judges’ Educational Show Chairperson for the BKC annual Conformation and Obedience all-breed shows. She also served as an AKC judge throughout the country, being approved to judge Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Bearded Collies, all three Belgian breeds, Canaan dogs, Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Giant Schnauzers, Standard Schnauzers, Samoyeds, all Terrier breeds and Terrier Group, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show.
Regarding National Specialty Shows, Joan judged both the West Highland White Terrier Club National held in conjunction with Montgomery County Kennel Club in 1986 and 2000, and the Collie Club of America National Specialties in 1989 and 2003.
Joan Marie Graber passed away on Saturday, October 7, 2006 after a long battle with cancer at age 74. More than fifty years that Joan gave to the breed has most certainly contributed to the Collies of today.
More than fifty years that Joan gave to the breed has most certainly contributed to the Collies of today.
Virginia H. Holtz
Virginia (Ginny) Holtz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 6, 1932. She grew up loving books animals, and in particular, both Rough and Smooth Collies. As a student Virginia worked in public and university libraries, and as a child she was an active part of the Milwaukee County Zoo youth program. “Ginny” earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from the Wisconsin State College at Milwaukee in 1954. She attended the University of Wisconsin Library School in Madison, Wisconsin, graduating in 1956.
Virginia spent her entire library professional career at the University of Wisconsin Health Sciences Library. She began her career at the library in Medical Library Service, the library outreach service which provided medical information to the physicians throughout the state of Wisconsin. Virginia became associate librarian in 1967 and director in 1971. In 1993, the Wisconsin Health Science Library Association bestowed her the honor of “Librarian of the Year.”
Around 1956, Ginny became involved in Collies. She acquired Sunnymar Pleasant Hill Gem from Dr. Borman (Mab Acre Collies.) At the time, this bitch was in whelp to his International CH. Addition of Lilac Lane. Ginny’s first point winner—and what was to become the foundation bitch for Cul Mor Rough Collies—came from this litter. The bitch’s name was Cul Mor’s M’Lady Frolic.
Around the mid 1950s, an enduring partnership began with her dear friend Joan Graber (Rudh’Re Collies and later, West Highland White Terriers.) However, each of “The Girls,” as they were so fondly referred to, had their own breeding programs. Ginny’s name will forever be remembered with her CH. Cul Mor’s Conspiratour, ROM, having sired 26 champions. Although “The Girls” infrequently intertwined their breeding programs, on the occasion that “Bru” was bred to a Rudh’Re bitch of Joan’s, that breeding produced the beautiful CH. Rudh’Re’s Gae Gwyneth, Joan’s favorite.
Ginny decided she wanted base her breeding program on the sons of CH. Silver Ho Parader, as it was late too late to breed directly to him. Ginny turned to John Lindeman (Teecumsee Collies). It was breeding CH. Teecumsee Temptor to Cul Mor’s M’Lady Frolic that produced Ginny’s outstanding sable collie CH Cul Mor’s Conspiratour, ROM.
As the prolific writer/breeder of Chelsea Collies, Gayle Kaye wrote: “Throughout every decade or period of the breed’s history there are certain sires of such major importance, that they stand above the rest. CH. Cul Mor’s Conspiratour was one of those dogs. He was the leading sire throughout the 1960s. It was because he blended so well with many of the day’s Parader offshoots, he became known far and wide for both his Rough and Smooth offspring. Not only did they do significant winning in the show ring, but several helped in establishing future Collie families. Bru [continues to be] one of the Collie sires that were influential in both varieties and that tremendous influence extends throughout both the rough and smooth Collie world of today! Ginny’s Smooth breeding program was instrumental in establishing the Smooth Collie in this country.”
Ginny received her AKC judging license in 1972, and among her numerous judging assignments, she judged the Collie Club of America National Specialty three times. A longtime breed educator, Ginny was known for her knowledge of Collie coats, and wrote the outstanding article that appeared in the November 2003 issue of Collie Expressions, entitled “Basic Genetics of Coat and Color Type in the Collie.” Additionally, she and her housemate Joan Graber chaired the CCA Breed Education Committee for years putting on valuable seminars.
As well described by Joanne Huff, longtime Collie Club of Southern Wisconsin member, friend and mentee, “Ginny was the quiet one. She imparted an aura of peace and gentleness no matter what was going on around her.”
Ginny died peacefully at her home on April 3, 2006, at the age of 73. Her valuable contributions to the Collie World will continue to be treasured.
The memorable occasion was due to the planning of Quarter Century Group Officers, President Tom Coen, Vice President Leslie Jeszewski, Treasurer Heather Newcomb, and Darcy Brown. Notably absent was Leslie Jeszewski, who was at home nursing two broken wrists! Let’s hope to see Leslie healed and back at the shows very soon!
Many thanks to Laura DeLaurentis and Lenise Adams who were present to capture all of these wonderful photo memories of the event!