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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, April 2, 2021. A special presentation will be held in conjunction with the June 2021 Delegate Meeting.

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

Peter Green

Peter Green of Bowmansville, Pennsylvania, was born in Neath, Wales at the cusp of World War II. At age 11, he started showing Welsh and Wire Fox Terriers at his uncle’s famous Felstead Kennel. Developing a passion for the sport, he came to the Malibu, California in 1958, attended Westminster in 1960, but chose to return home to the United Kingdom, where he achieved great success as a handler.

Peter immigrated for a second time to work privately at Pool Forge Kennels in 1963, where his career flourished. In 1967 he established Greenfield Kennels in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Peter won four Best in Show titles at Westminster, Best in Show at Montgomery County on nine occasions and earned the top dog all breeds in the United States six times. Peter was one of only two handlers to receive Best in Show honors at both Crufts and Westminster.

Peter’s many awards include four Kennel Review Handler of the Year; two Gaines Handler of the Year, Nature’s Recipe Handler of the Year, and BowTie Dogs in Review Lifetime Advancement Award.

After retiring from handling in 2006, he started his journey in judging. He was approved as a Terrier Group Judge by AKC and later in Toy, Herding and for several Non-Sporting breeds. He is an accredited FCI judge for all breeds.

Peter has judged dog shows at the highest level throughout the world – including Best in Show at Montgomery County Kennel Club, Westminster Kennel Club and Crufts.

At his Greenfield kennel, Peter has mentored some of the most influential people in the dog fancy.

Maxine Beam (posthumous)

Maxine Beam of Fort Worth, Texas. Maxine Beam was one of the great and knowledgeable multi-group judges, a hands-on mentor and one of the finest dog people of her time. She was a judge of the Sporting, Working, Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting Groups.

She was introduced to exhibition and competition thru working at her local stables where she groomed and exercised horses. At age 13, she went to her first dog show and began showing dogs before WWII. During the war she worked to support industry as a quality-control person in the production of bombers.

Originally in her early 20’s, Maxine’s interest was in Cocker Spaniels however she became a renowned and successful all breed professional handler for over thirty years with a special interest in Poodles, Boxers, and German Shepherds. As a handler, she piloted three Poodles to win the Quaker Oats Ken-L Ration Award.

Maxine retired from professional handling in 1972. In 1973 she began judging, acquiring 5 groups. Her assignments took her all over the world to the most prestigious venues including Westminster Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club National Championship, which she judged Best in Show in 2007. In 2003 she was inducted into the Nature’s Recipe Dogs in Review Hall of Fame.

Maxine passed away on October 1, 2020 just shy of her 99th birthday.

James Crowley

James Crowley retired as AKC Executive Secretary after nearly 46 years on March 17, 2017. Crowley graduated from Boston College in 1969, and after a year on Wall Street, and active duty in the Army National Guard, he joined AKC in 1971 as Assistant Manager in the Show and Field Trial Plans Department, and at various times over the years was responsible for Event Operations, Club Relations, Publications, the AKC Library and Archives, Curating the AKC Art Collection, Human Resources, acceptance of new breeds, relations with foreign kennel clubs. For six months between General Counsels, he was also responsible or the Legal and Compliance Departments.

From 1993 as Executive Secretary, Crowley attended and recorded the minutes for hundreds of AKC Board and Delegate meetings, as well as for various Board and Delegate committees and special Board-appointed committees. The latter included the Bylaws Committee, chaired by Ron Menaker, which met in the late 1990’s and proposed many drastically needed Bylaw changes which became effective in 2001, updating and completely revamping AKCs Bylaws which had been in effect from 1884.

During Crowley’s time at AKC, first all employees and then AKC officers were understandably prohibited for competing on AKC events. However, Crowley was a member of the Westbury Kennel Association for over 40 years and was on its Board for years until that was prohibited for AKC officers. He and his wife Ann also always had one or two Cavaliers as members of their family.

In 1997 Crowley joined the AKC Museum of the Dog’s Board. He still serves on that Board as well as Museum Secretary. From his retirement in March 2017 until the return of the Museum to NYC in 2019 Crowley worked as a consultant to AKC on details of the relocation and build out of the Museum.

Nominees in Companion Events

Betty Winthers

Betty M. Winthers, of Lynnwood, Washington, has been active in the sport for more than 60 years, encompassing a wide range of experience as breeder, exhibitor, trainer, judge, and as an AKC Executive Field Representative of Obedience, Tracking and Rally.

Betty is an AKC Breeder of Merit who has bred and exhibited Champion German Shepherd Dogs with Obedience titles including CD, CDX, UD, and the first UDT in Washington state; a Champion CDX Miniature Poodle, a CDX Papillon as well as many Champion Papillons including a Best in Show winner.

She became an AKC-approved judge in 1969 and is now approved to judge Obedience, Tracking, Rally, Conformation and Junior Showmanship. Betty has judged throughout the United States, Canada and overseas.

She is an active club member, serving as an officer and Board member for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, German Shepherd Dog Club of Washington, the Washington State Obedience Training Club, (class trainer for 12 years), and Olympic Kennel Club and is also a Life Member for those clubs. Betty served as show secretary for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America for seven years and is a club member of the Papillon Club of America and Papillon Association of Puget Sound. She was the AKC Delegate for the Olympic Kennel Club from 1987 until 1992 and became their Delegate again in 2014 – to date.

During her tenure as a Field Rep she conducted seminars and worked with prospective judges to expand AKC judges’ base. By educating judges to conform to AKC Rules and Regulations, she helped to create exceptional judges.

Betty was nominated for the AKC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and is the recipient of the Gaines Sportsman award for the German Shepherd Dog Club of Washington State. She is also the recipient of the D’Ambrisi award from the Association of Obedience Judges.

Linda Mecklenburg

Linda Mecklenburg has been dedicated to dog agility for three decades. When AKC agility began, she promoted the sport by teaching instructor workshops, judging fun matches, and even building equipment. She contributed dozens of introductory articles for aspiring agility enthusiasts. As her handling and training experience increased, Linda shared her knowledge in lessons, seminars, books, DVDs, and online classes. Her book Developing Handling Skills, followed by the DVD series Balancing Cues, helped handlers understand the importance of body language. The books Developing Jumping Skills and Mastering Jumping Skills helped trainers appreciate the importance of jump training. Today Linda is nationally recognized agility instructor and coach. Her students have ranged from those preparing for AKC Novice, to those crossing over from obedience, to those preparing for national or international competition. Many have become successful competitors and instructors themselves.

Always striving to raise the standard of performance in AKC agility, Linda has provided input on topics such as course design and equipment safety. She’s taught two course design courses and was one of the first proponents of electronic timing and rubberized contact obstacles.

Competitively, Linda’s dogs have earned multiple Master Agility Championship (MACH) titles, Top MACH Dog and Top Border Collie of the year. Linda has won the AKC National Agility Championships, Invitational, and World Team Tryouts. She’s been selected for the AKC World Team over a dozen times and represented AKC at Crufts. At the Agility World Championships, Linda has earned gold and silver medals in the Team competition and placed top ten Individually several times. Demonstrating that form follows function, one of her most accomplished agility dogs also finished his conformation Championship. He then sired three Breeder-Owner Champions for Linda.

Since the AKC agility began, Linda Mecklenburg has been a driving force in the growth and evolution of the sport.

Dr. William (Bill) Thayne (posthumous)

Bill Thayne has a legacy of dedication and hard work with the AKC; someone who was tough but fair. 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. He also bred his own line of Labrador Retrievers (Thaylough) and was one of the first to have four generations of Obedience Trial Champions. The 2020 National Obedience Championship was dedicated in his honor.

Bill and his wife, JoAnn of 55 years, got their first Labrador Retriever in 1968. They had recently moved to Morgantown, WV where he had begun his academic career in Animal Science and Statistics at West Virginia University. His love for obedience began by taking a class with the Mountaineer Kennel Club that led to teaching obedience classes, exhibiting at trials, and judging. He competed in obedience trials with Labrador Retrievers, later with Border Collies.

Bill and his family spent many weekends on the road at obedience trials. The days were spent exhibiting in obedience and evenings included discussions about training, rules and judging. During weekly backyard sessions he would run trainers through their paces raising the standards, experience and sportsmanship and building comradery with other exhibitors.

Bill began judging in 1976 and in 1990 he retired from competing and judging and joined the AKC as a Field Representative. Bill enjoyed all aspects of this work from working with judges in the field, giving seminars to clubs and working with fellow reps in developing new events, like Rally. He worked full-time for the AKC until retiring in 2015. In his years with the AKC showing, 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.

Nominees in Performance Events

Claudia Frank

I grew up in Minnesota. My training life started early on. Then beginning at fifteen a mixed breed, became part of our family and we attended AKC obedience classes weekly. Then came a purebred Sheltie for my high school graduation gift. Along with many Shelties there were a few other breeds.

I married Gary in 1974. He joined me in dog activities as we moved around the country three different times due to his job. My dog activities made it easy to find new dog friends. The therapy contacts were the best way to meet other dog folk while I was training and finding the local events.

Through this time, I competed in all levels of obedience and tracking and finished many titles.

An eventual move to south central Ohio allowed us to acquire a farm and a sizeable flock of sheep/ducks for training & trialing. We also did agility at this time. I finished an early Sheltie Herding Championship with several more following and the breed’s first Triple Champion (MACH2, CH, HC Guy). There were also Sheltie champions with performance titles too.

My interest in training dogs to handle livestock grew. Border Collies entered the scene. Several AKC Herding Champions and AHBA Herding Champions were finished as well as competing in Open – the upper level of USBCHA competition. We hosted many herding trials of different venues.

I was honored to participate in the AKC Herding Advisory Committees to form the program and watch it improve and enlarge.

I was involved in the Border Collie Society of America as their Delegate to the AKC Delegate meetings and discovered that side of the sport.

My life has been spent competing in and supporting events to promote the abilities of the well- bred dog.

I’m honored and privileged to be considered for this prestigious award. Thank you.

James (Jim) Basham (posthumous)

In 1968 Jim and Beverly bought their first Irish Setter, Basham’s Tipparrary Red CDX. Tippy was the family dog and personal hunting companion. He had earned eight bench points before a leg injury ended his show career. In 1969 Jim started training some his friends hunting dogs and was successful enough that in 1972, he decided to train professionally when they moved out of the city and bought a farm in Nova, Ohio.

Jim started with five kennel runs and two clients with young Irish Setters. Two years later he finished both dog’s field championships and his training business took off. Jim still worked full time at the steel plant at night and trained bird dogs during the day. English and Gordons came next, and before long, all pointing breeds – full time with a new boarding and training kennel.

Jim appreciated and finished many dual champions. His first Dual was Irish Setter DCH Shane’s Irish High Noon, owned by Jim Haupt This was followed by Dual Gordons, German Wirehair Pointers, Weimaraners, German Shorthaired Pointers, Vizslas, Pointers, and Brittanys.

To his credit Jim never ran any dogs of his own. He felt competing with his clients was against his principals as the client’s dogs had to come first. He also donated his grounds for hunt tests free of charge and gave several free training seminars for various clubs. In 2007 he retired as a professional trainer.

During his career, Jim finished well over 75 field championship titles, among them, 25 Gordon Setter duals and 45 Gordon field champions, including an American Field National Gordon Setter Champion, several AKC Gordon Setter National Field Champions. He also won Tri-Setter and Irish Setter Quail Classics. He put Master Hunter Titles on many of the Field and Dual Champions that he trained.

Jim delighted in training owners to handle their own dogs and always had time to help someone in need. He is remembered in the field trial community as a gentleman, a great sportsman and competitor.

Sharol Hathaway

I have always been fortunate to be able to have dogs in my life. From growing up with my parents Alaskan Malamutes, to my own Belgian Tervuren, I have had the enjoyment in interacting with the dogs in tracking, agility, obedience and predominately herding. Thirty years later my program continues to grow. I have handled seven AKC Herding Champions in six generations of my breeding. I have also trained and handled HC’s and advanced herding titles on Tervuren and other breeds as well. The dogs I have produced make up a large percentage of the Belgian Tervuren Herding Champions. I became an AKC herding judge in 2002 and have judged across the country. My successful herding career has taken me to other parts of the world to judge and give clinics. I have been Chairman and committee member on countless ABTC National herding events. I have been instrumental in starting herding clubs and supporting clubs interested in giving AKC herding events. I have mentored and trained at least 4 AKC herding judges in the program now. Four of my students have established their own herding facilities. I continue to support the AKC herding program, as I feel it has a standard of excellence that proves herding dog breeding and training. I continue to give clinics and lessons and have the honor to write a herding column for the ABTC national magazine. I look forward to carrying forward the AKC herding program by training and showing for a long time to come! Thank you for the honor of this nomination.