In its endless pursuit to recognize outstanding members of the fancy, The American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Awards were created and first awarded in 1999 to honor our best. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate those individuals whose many years of dedication have led to significant contributions to our sport on a national level.
As in the past, this year’s nominees were selected by AKC member clubs that cast their votes for one nominee in each of three categories: Conformation, Companion Events, and Performance. The three nominees receiving the most votes in each category were selected as finalists. Member clubs are now being asked to cast their vote for one nominee in each of the three categories. This final round of balloting will close on Friday, November 1, 2019. A special awards presentation will be held in conjunction with the AKC National Championship in Orlando, Florida in December 2019.
The AKC is honored to present photos and bios of the nine finalists who were selected by our member clubs in recognition of their exemplary participation in the Fancy.
Nominees in Conformation
Dr. James Edwards (posthumous)
From the AKC GAZETTE Obituary July 2018
James Wesley Edwards, Ph.D was an esteemed breeder-exhibitor-judge who ushered in the era of DNA testing as the AKC’s director of Compliance Operations and DNA Educational Services.
Edwards was born in Evansville, Indiana. He did his undergraduate work at Evansville College and received a Ph.D. in zoology from Utah State University in 1964. The following year he joined the faculty of Salem College at Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He spent 27 years as a biology professor and eventually rose to department chairman.
Edwards was a breeder-exhibitor of Bloodhounds who held several important posts in the American Bloodhound Club, including newsletter editor, AKC delegate, vice president, and board member. He served the Forsyth Kennel Club as board member and show chairman.
Edwards became a judge of Bloodhounds in 1983. At the time of his death in June of 2018, he was approved for all hounds, several breeds from the other groups, and Best in Show.
Edwards came to the AKC as director of Judging Research and Development in 1990 and was named DNA Operations director in 1996. During his 10 years with the AKC, Edwards’s co-workers came to appreciate his keen intelligence, lively wit, and passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Born and raised in California, I was active in breeding and showing Arabian horses. After attending university, investing in an exceptional career in Advertising and Marketing, marriage and extensive travel my involvement in the horse world came to an end.
My first Cavalier was a wedding gift from a school friend in England. In 1989, I joined the existing registry for Cavaliers in the US.
I am honored to be a Founding Director and Past President for 10 years and the AKC Delegate for the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, Inc. My experience as a business strategist and my legal experience were all useful in the forming of a parent club. ACKCSC was licensed in 1996. I chaired our first three National Specialties beginning in 1997. I’ve been on the Board in various capacities for 23 of its 25 years. During those years, we formed a 501 (3)c Rescue Trust and a 501 (3)c Charitable Health Trust (I am the Founding Chairman to this day). The ACKCSC, Inc. is a Parent Club with modern business framework and approach to a grand old sport. We continue to grow and contribute to the Sport of Dogs. We appear on the Wall of Fame at the Museum of the Dog.
In 1999 I joined the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills where over the years I have served as Corresponding Secretary, a Director, Media/Public Relations and currently Vice President. In the past 5 years I teamed with David Frei, NBC Sports and KCBH to formulate the now televised Kennel Club of Beverly Hills show in early March. In the 3 years of the televised show we’ve grown and are now a part of the international stage. I am proud to have been a part of creating a spotlight for the Sport of Purebred Dogs on the west coast of the US.
I am also a Member of Morris & Essex and the founder of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Southern California.
I am honored to be nominated for the AKC Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ronald H. Menaker
Ron Menaker has been actively involved in the sport of purebred dogs for over 52 years. He has bred and exhibited Giant Schnauzers, Bedlington Terriers, and Norfolk Terriers, owned Border Terriers, and is deeply involved in many breed and all-breed clubs, dedicating his time in various capacities.
Mr. Menaker served on the AKC Board from 1996 to 1998, 2000 to 2012 and 2014 to 2019.
During his Board terms he had the position of Vice Chairman from 2001 to 2002 followed by that of Chairman from 2002 to 2012 and 2015 to 2019. He is the Chairman Emeritus of the AKC and the Delegate of the Memphis Kennel Club. His extensive business experience, operational and financial management expertise throughout the philanthropic and corporate communities and universally acknowledged leadership style proved to be invaluable assets to the Board and the organization.
He is the past show chairman for the AKC National Championship and Westminster Kennel Club and is an Honorary Member of The Kennel Club (England).
Mr. Menaker was instrumental in the planning and relocation of the AKC Headquarters and the AKC Museum of the Dog in New York City in 2018.
As a member of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America, Mr. Menaker has held positions as President, Director, AKC Delegate, and Show Chairman. Additionally, he is a past member of the Giant Schnauzer Club of America and a current member of the Border Terrier Club of America. An AKC judge since 1994, Mr. Menaker has judged at more than 300 AKC conformation shows.
Mr. Menaker’s judging assignments have taken him across the country and around the world, including to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. He is approved to judge Best in Show, all Working, Sporting, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting breeds, and multiple other breeds.
His career has been dedicated to the care, welfare, growth and future of the Sport of purebred dogs.
Nominees in Companion Events
Dr. Charles ‘Bud’ Kramer (posthumous)
Dr. Charles ‘Bud’ Kramer was a professor emeritus at Kansas State University, who contributed to dog companion sports for over 60 years before his passing in June 2019. His contributions were many, but his proudest achievement was his involvement with the development of Rally for the American Kennel Club.
Since 1971, Bud and his wife Vel have been members of the Manhattan Kansas Kennel Club in Manhattan, Kansas. Bud served as Training Director and was active in training, showing, teaching and judging. He had numerous CD, CDX and UD champions, and helped thousands train their own dogs for home and competition. He believed dog training should be available to all breeds and handlers regardless of their physical abilities.
In January 1987, Bud wrote and published the first complete book on dog Agility entitled, “Dog Agility- For All Dogs” which was awarded “Best Book, On Training and Care” by the Dog Writers Association of America. He also wrote many articles on the development of Agility for Front & Finish, The Courier and his own monthly publication, The Contact Line. Bud established the National Club for Dog Agility (NCDA) and served on the first AKC Agility advisory committee.
After AKC adopted Agility as a companion sport, Bud decided to create a new sport that would bridge the gap between traditional obedience and Agility. He spent several years developing the concept, writing regulations, designing courses and signs, and conferring with companion sport enthusiasts and AKC representatives. In February 2005, Bud wrote and published, “An Introduction to the Style of Rally Obedience” and published the original signs for Rally trials.
I have lived in Colorado Springs since 1979 with my wife of 40 years – Karen Rooks Nauer – and our German Shorthaired Pointers under the “Voyager” Kennel name. I endorse the versatile dog and have led the GSP Club of America’s Versatility Program for almost 15 years, encouraging our National club to recognize and support companion events. We are also active and have had success in conformation, hunt, obedience, and tracking with our GSPs. Breed versatility education and establishing a program that encourages participation in the companion events has resulted in hundreds of GSPCA members achieving a wide mix of companion and other titles.
I started AKC agility in 1996 and became an AKC Agility Judge in 2005. My passion is Agility. I’ve run numerous GSPs of our breeding over the years. In 1999 I worked at the AKC National Agility Championship (NAC), and in 2001 was Head of the Score Table at the AKC NAC. I was honored to judge the AKC NAC twice, including judging the Finals in 2013 in Tulsa, crowning our sports National Agility Champions.
I was again honored to assist the AKC staff when I participated twice in the Agility Rules Advisory Committees (2009 and 2013), helping formulate improvements to our sport with new regulations. For over a decade I’ve also mentored new candidate agility judges, helping formalize AKC’s mentoring process that is in place today. I’ve judged dozens of various Breed Agility National Specialties, including my own breed, and have judged hundreds of all-breed agility trials across the country. I’ve been the Agility trial chairman for the GSPCA Nationals eight times and have chaired local agility trials.
I was awarded the prestigious AKC Agility Achievement Award in 2018 for my overall services to AKC Agility at a national level. Locally I’m passionate about our regional agility sport, acting as a Volunteer Measuring Official and assisting in promoting AKC agility in our community.
Dr. William Thayne (posthumous)
Bill and his wife, JoAnn of 55 years, got their first Labrador Retriever in 1968. They had recently moved to Morgantown, WV where he began his academic career in Animal Science and Statistics at West Virginia University. They lived in West Virginia for 35 years raising three daughters and many dogs. His love for obedience began by taking a class with the Mountaineer Kennel Club and this led to teaching classes, exhibiting at trials and judging. He competed in obedience trials with Labrador Retrievers, later switching to Border Collies. He bred his own line of Labrador Retrievers, Thaylough and was one of the first to have four generations of Obedience Trial Champions.
The whole family would pack up on weekends into the RV and be off to obedience trials. With a group of friends (The Gang), they would circle the RVs into a courtyard and be ready for fellowship and competition. He was very involved in both the Mountaineer Kennel Club and the Golden Triangle Obedience Club and later the Susque-Nango Kennel Club. He began doing some obedience judging in 1976 and quickly became known as tough but fair, serving on the 1988 AKC Obedience Advisory Committee.
In 1990 he retired from competing and judging and began as a Field Representative for the AKC. He retired from WVU in 2002 and he and JoAnn moved to Binghamton, NY, their hometown. He continued to work full-time for the AKC until retiring in 2015. In his years with the AKC exhibiting, judging and working he was able to travel to all 50 US states as well as London, where he represented the AKC Obedience Team at Crufts.
Sadly, both Bill and JoAnn passed away recently. He leaves a legacy of dedication and hard work. Someone who knew the rules, and the intention of the rules, and was always happy to discuss them. He was well respected by all and was “by the book” – whereas he could quote excerpts from the Obedience Regulations word for word without taking a breath.
The 2020 AKC National Obedience Championship has been dedicated in Bill’s honor.
Nominees in Performance Events
When I was 8, a champion-sired pet English Springer Spaniel joined our family as a companion and hunter, beginning my 70+year involvement in English Springer Spaniels.
WESSA member 60+years, ESSFTA member for 50+ years (served on the board and chaired committees – heritable defects, judges ed. etc. Charter member of the Waukesha Kennel Club. Member of WWCDTC. Life member of the WATKC. Judge of ESS & JS. Judged Spaniel Hunt tests.
In Wisconsin, pheasant season is important. Many of my first champion’s pups got to hunt. Her son, group winner and sire of 25 champions also produced wonderful working dogs. Marah Bolden (Namten) and Daisy Mayer (Kocreek) shared my belief that showdogs should also be good field dogs, and WESSA started it’s WD/WDX annual test, and held the first AKC spaniel hunt test in the Midwest.
Entered in California in the first AKC Spaniel Hunt test, co-owned co-bred Hillcrest Firefall Flicker (WDX) CDX SH qualified, later becoming the first spaniel to complete this new AKC hunt test title.
By 1997, I trained and handled the first showbred ESS to earn a MH – my (CH) Hillcrest Namtn Kocr Colours (WDX, VS), UDTDX AX AXJ RA MH.
Proud of my current co-bred co-owned dogs, and their owner-trainers, (usually with no thought of hunt work, most doing no previous dog training). Since 2015, these 6 are: First ESS GCH – MH, first ESS GCH – MHA MH12, first GCH – MHA MH12 ESSFTA Versatile Springer, a CH – MH (3 MHA legs), and 2 others that I bred – a CH – MHA MH12, and an MHA.
Seeing these owner-handlers grow in knowledge and involvement in the sport gives me hope that will people will insure that ESS exist with the structure the standard asks for AND biddability and field talent, successful in both arenas.
Lynn Worth Smith
Lynn got her first Vizsla in 1969 and started on the road in the dog world that created an adventurous life for nearly 50 years. Lynn’s kennel name is Melto that means “worthy” in Hungarian. A Breeder of Merit, Lynn has bred Best in Show, National Specialty Best of Breeds, Top Ten Sporting Dog, sire of the first Vizsla bitch to go Best in Show, Vizsla Club of America Hall of Fame dogs and Dual Champions.
Lynn is a licensed field trial and hunting test judge and has judged and competed in pointing dog
events and field championships across the United States and in Canada. She has served as Chairman of three VCA National field events. She was the founder and President of the Connecticut Valley Vizsla Club and President of the Vizsla Club of Greater New York. Lynn served on the VCA Board of Directors from 1979 until 2017 as Vice-President, Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Director and AKC Delegate. She served as Chairman of Public Education, Nominating Committee, By-Laws and Founder and former President of the VCA Welfare Foundation that handles breed rescue and health studies and a committed donor to AKC’s Health projects.
As AKC Delegate from 1993 to 2017, Lynn served as Secretary of AKC’s Field Trial and Hunting Test Committee and on the editorial staff of Perspectives. As a professional writer, Lynn has had articles published in numerous magazines relating to many performance fields, including falconry, and many canine issues in the world of dogs. She lives in Virginia and presently serves as editor of the Virginia Hunting Preserve Association publication.
Lynn says that her commitment to canine performance has been the most important aspect of her dog career. She has mentored as much as possible and was the recipient of the Vizsla Club of America Outstanding Sportsmanship Award in 2015.
Joe Vicari of Hampshire Illinois began field trialing German Shorthaired Pointers over 45 years ago. He has spent this time dedicated to training, handling, breeding, competing and helping others. Joe owned and trained over 21 AKC Field Champions and over 15 AKC Amateur Field Champions. He has four dogs inducted into the German Shorthaired Point Club of America (AKC Parent Club) Hall of Fame. Joe along with two of his dogs has been inducted into the NGSPA Hall of Fame.
Joe’s influence on the German Shorthaired Pointer breed has been extremely significant. Over the years, the positive influence of dogs he has bred on the shorthair gene pool is huge and nearly impossible to quantify. The number of dogs out of his breeding’s owned and handled by others is myriad. These dogs continue to be a strong influence in the genetic pool of this breed.
Contributing to every aspect of bird dogs and field trials through the years, Joe has judged numerous AKC field Trials including weekend, Regional and National Championships for a number of different pointing breeds. Joe has conducted many seminars by himself and along with Delmar Smith, Bob West and Bob McKowen. These seminars assist new comers to this sport in the development of their dogs. He has also provided bird dog demonstrations for Midwest Outdoors.
Joe served in numerous official capacities with Fort Dearborn German Shorthaired Pointer Club, German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Illinois, Rock River German Shorthaired Pointer Club and NGSPA Region 5. He has served on the Board of Directors of the NGSPA, The National German Shorthaired Pointing Dog Association (NGPDA), and Field Trial Clubs of Illinois. In addition, Joe has served as Field Trial Chairman for numerous Field Trials, ensuring smooth running of these events.
Joe’s most proud of helping introduce newcomers to this sport by assisting them with training, questions and any other way that he can. Joe has also brought his son, daughter and grandson to this sport. Frank, Angie and Mike judge and compete in AKC events.
Joe is honored and privileged to be considered for this prestigious award.