The End of An Era: A Tribute to Isabel S. Kurth The Newfoundland world lost its foremost friend on January 7, 1997, with the passing of Isabel Sutherland Kurth, 95, of North Andover, Massachusetts.
She was a native New Englander, born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where her father was a wellknown merchant. A graduate of Wellesley College, she taught Latin and algebra before her marriage to William W. Kurth in 1926. The Kurths lived in Andover where they raised their two children, Bill and Liz.
The Kurths had always had a dog but it was not until she was in her mid-fifties that Isabel got her first Newfoundland. According to Janice Hight, her son persuaded her to take in a large black dog that was hanging around his fraternity house. It was a Newfoundland, but its temperament was so bad that, in a few weeks, Isabel had it put down. This experience with a bad mannered, ill-tempered stray started a love affair with the breed that lasted the rest of her life.
Her early dogs came from Little Bear and Edenglen. Her beloved "Eric," Ch. Edenglen's Sovreign of the Sea, was bred sparingly and is found in the pedigrees of many top dogs of today.
Isabel at home with Kitty Drury's Nana in 1988
Isabel's home was a virtual museum of Newfoundland memorabilia.
Her collection was astounding. Her hospitality was unlimited and her home always open to her Newfoundland friends who she often invited to her famous teas and receptions.
She was influential in the development of The Newfoundland Club of New England and the North Shore Kennel Club. Two of her most prized possessions were the Gaines medals for good sportsmanship awarded to her by both clubs.
Isabel was an Honorary Member of the Newfoundland Club of America, and served it in many capacities including Secretary and AKC Delegate. She was the first National Specialty Coordinator and organized the first National manual. During her long tenure as NCA's Recognition Chairperson, Isabel penned hundreds of letters of congratulations to NCA members whose Newfs had completed their AKC championships. She took great pride and joy in fulfilling this responsibility.
Isabel at the 1988 National in Carslisle, PA
Over the years, Isabel was a vital presence at the Nationals, usually working as the chief ring steward. When she was no longer physically able to steward, she became the honorary chief ring steward and always sat under the tent to watch the judging, mark her catalogue and greet the fancy. When Isabel turned 90, a surprise birthday party celebra ted the occasion a t the 1992 National. Isabel's own NCNE gave a cake decorated with Eric's picture, and Dave Helming read an all-encompassing proclamation extolling her years of tireless, loving service. Friends and dignitaries from around the world honored her with birthday greetings which were gathered into an album.
Isabel Kurth passes to us a legacy rich in good sportsmanship and genuine concern for our breed. Maureen Ross, who frequently visited Isabel at the Prescott Nursing Home, wrote, " ... although she's gone in the physical sense, as long as we have these wonderful dogs, her spirit will always remain with us." The prestigious Isabel S. Kurth Award was established in 1993 in recognition of this extraordinary woman.