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Isabel Kurth Award Winners

Ron Pemberton

by Roger Frey

The prestigious Isabel Kurth Award is a special award presented by the NCA Board of Directors to those very deserving individuals who have offered continuous service to the Newfoundland Club of America. Named for the Grand Dame of the Newfoundland World, this award is given to one who exemplifies the same dedication and untiring service to the club and the breed which Isabel gave so lovingly. The nominee must be nominated by a Board member and receive a 2/3 majority vote of the Board. Since its inception in 1995, this award has been presented only three times. All three previous recipients have been women. This year the Board honors a man whose continuous service to the NCA has been beyond outstanding.

This year's recipient has been involved with Newfoundlands since 1966 and joined the NCA in 1972. He has served as a Board member from 1977 till 1984, and was the 2nd Vice-President in 1983 and 1984. He was elected to the Board again in 1990, serving until 1992. In 1972 he was chairman of the Trophy Committee for the National Specialty. He also served on the Constitution, By-laws, Code of Ethics Committee, and the Specialty Show Advisory Committee (the predecessor of the present day Specialty Show committee). In the 1970s and 80s, he served on the Audio Visual Committee and the Standard Revisions Committee. During the 1980s and 90s, he served on the Illustrated Guide Committee and the Judges Education Committee. He was often a presenter at our Judges Seminars at National Specialties. He created the History of the Breed portion of the presentation still used today.

From 1979 until its dissolution in the late 80s, he served as Chair of the Hip Dysplasia Committee and was responsible for the publication of the Hip Dysplasia Booklet, which was our only reference source for OFA certified dogs during that time period.

In 1995, he was appointed to the Memorial Trophy Committee and through his diligence, the NCA acquired the original molds for these trophies, making it possible to perpetuate the Robert Curry and Kitty Drury Memorial trophies. He also supervised the refurbishing of the Maynard K. Drury Best of Breed Trophy.

He is a three-time NCA National Specialty Show chair, and as anyone who has ever chaired a National Speciality can tell you, this feat in itself, might make one eligible for this award.

It was his vision that began the Landseer Painting Restoration Project in 1996. He never lost sight of that vision and persevered as obstacle after obstacle after obstacle were overcome. He donated items of his own collection to auction to raise money to fund the project, and almost single-handedly was responsible for the restoration of "A Distinguished Member Of the Humane Society" by Sir Edwin Landseer and the negotiations which resulted in the painting being brought to the United States.

I'm sure by now most of you know that I'm speaking about Ron Pemberton.

He along with his wife Erma, are founding members of the Great Lakes Newfoundland Club. I can't even begin to list his contributions to his regional club, as they are far too numerous. All of this service to the NCA is due to his dedication to the Newfoundland breed. This truly has been a labor of love.

He has been breeding since the mid 1960s and his Holiday Kennel has produced numerous champions, VNs, obedience titlists, and ROMs. He has owned or bred several National Specialty winners, including winners bitch twice (once from the bred by exhibitor class) and Best of Opposite Sex twice, as well as owning the top NCA Show Bitch for 1999 and 2000.

He was also a professional handler in the 60s and 70s, an AKC judge since the 80s, now licensed to judge the entire Working and Sporting Groups, as well as several Hound breeds, and Best In Show. He has judged the NCA National Specialty show twice and judged in Asia and Europe on several occasions. He has written a critically acclaimed book on judging the Newfoundland. He is also a collector and a patron of the arts.

In 1978, Ron founded the very successful Michigan Dog Show Judges Association. The concept of this association and the quality of its presentations reflects his devotion to the sport of purebred dogs.

After he met Ron at the 1994 National Specialty in Michigan, Bruce Weber summed it up best when he said it was Ron's "generosity of spirit" that affected him most. The Newfoundland world has been the recipient of this generosity of spirit for almost four decades. Now it's time to say thank you.

On behalf of the board of directors and the entire membership, it is with great pleasure that we present the Isabel Kurth Award to Mr. Ronald Pemberton.



reprinted from Newf Tide 3Q 2002


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