The longer you remain in the dog world (or in any community, really), the more likely it is that you'll observe not only your own personal milestones, but those of the community. We celebrate birthdays of people and puppies. We bid farewell to our old dogs and our friends' dogs, and to the people we meet in this sport of ours.
AKC judge Lester Mapes was one of those. He died on June 15 after surgery from injuries sustained in a car accident. He and his wife lived in Monson, MA, one of the towns that sustained the most damage from the tornadoes that struck the Springfield area in western Massachusetts. The tornado knocked out two walls of their house and removed the roof. Lester and Judy Mapes were in their car at the time, when their car was struck by another car. Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate them before taking them to the hospital. Judy was injured but survived; however, Lester succumbed. This is just all too sad.
His obituary mentions his life in dogs and his equal passion for music and theater. I didn't know him well enough to know any of these things about him — just to note that his time here on earth was still too short.
Lester Mapes gave Dinah her very first AKC point as a puppy. I hadn't yet met Kathy and was still stumbling nervously around the ring with her myself. Despite taking Best Puppy in Show at the Canadian National Specialty, a Puppy Group 2 at another local show, and placing in the puppy class at two regional specialties, Dinah hadn't competed with enough other class bitches to have earned any points. Her perfect shutout score was finally broken, thanks to Lester Mapes, in the cavernous and funky downstairs area of Bangor Auditorium. I guess you never forget your first (point, that is).
Here's our photo from Best of Breed that day (that's Traveler in front of us). Rarely do our action photos include the judge, and it never occurred to me then to ask for a win photo. Try not to wince too much at this display of handling greatness (but at least the puppy's cute)...
Looking through Infodog, I see that other judges we've shown under have also passed. Norman Herbel gave Dinah the Puppy Group 2. Bill Bailey gave her a Reserve in a large and competitive lineup at Ladies'. Robert Moore gave her the 4-point major in Springfield that made her a champion of record, after a long march through zero-point shows and broken majors.
They might be gone from this plane, but they are remembered — and I hope that they've met up with their own old dogs in the afterlife.