ForeverMissed

Katie Eldred, Kathleen Jean according to her passport, finally lost the battle to prove she could live forever.  At the tender age of 102, she died peacefully on April 12, 2019.  She is survived by her three children, Sara (Ginty), Revett, and Gervase (Geoff), 10 grandchildren, who knows how many grandkids, and her last rescue dog Patitas.

Katie never met a dog she didn’t like.  She inherited the dog bug from her sister Daphne when she, Katie, was just in her late teens and acquired her first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, on which breed she became, over the years, one of the world’s acknowledged experts, breeding, advising, and later judging, all under the name Turnworth Cavaliers, the name being derived from when she lived in the village of Turnworth, Dorset.

She met and married John Eldred and bore him three children, but parted ways soon after.  She then raised the three children, pretty much by herself, in post-war Britain on a secretary’s salary, all the time surrounded by an indeterminate number of the aforesaid Cavaliers.  This established her as an unbeatable role model for her offspring.

In her 40s, when two of her three children had left home, Katie and Geoff followed Sara and emigrated to the United States.  Katie settled first in Novato, north of San Francisco, but later moved south and lived happily for many years in Agua Dulce in the Mojave desert outside Los Angeles, surrounded by dogs and goats, and working for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.  She criss-crossed the US numerous times attending dog shows.

When she retired she relocated to British Columbia where her three children had, by happenstance, all found themselves living within a day’s drive of each other, and continued her dedication to improving the Cavalier breed.

She is an honorary member of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of the UK, the CKCSC of Canada, CKCSC of Puget Sound (COPS), CKCSC of BC, and CKCSC of Oregon Trail.  She assisted at the very beginning of the breed in choosing the initial breed stock accepted by the UK Kennel Club. Her breeding appears somewhere back far enough in the pedigrees of most living Cavaliers.

Katie was in her 90s before she admitted to being less able to fend for herself all the time, and so moved in with Sara.  In fact, she drove herself around until she was about 97, stopping only after the bumps and dings on her car were explained by her grandson as "parking by Braille". Only when she passed the century mark did it become apparent that it was time for her to move into an assisted living facility.  It was there that she spent her last year and in which she quietly passed away.

If you knew Katie and would like to honour her memory, please give a few dollars to your favourite animal charity.

Will Rogers said “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go wherever they went.”  We are fairly sure that’s where Katie is now.

Posted by John Eldred on April 17, 2019
Katie was my aunt but I never met her. I wish I had because she might have disciplined our totally disobedient King Charles spaniel. He was called George acquired by my wife as a puppy from Harrods store in London. She adored him and spoilt him rotten. On walks he would go off sniffing into bushes, deaf to calls. I reasoned with Maril, my eventual wife, that calling and calling says we are here dear George. He once dived down a hole under an old tree in the woods and stayed there ignoring calls for so long that Maril had to leave us to fetch her daughter from school. I put my theory to the test and remained silent hiding below a bank. Sure enough he became concerned at our absence and came out, spied me and ran back to the hole but not fast enough, I caught his back legs. He lived to a fair age, had several small strokes and eventually didn’t come home. Next day I found his body in long grass and buried him in a quiet corner.
Posted by Chris Quinn on April 14, 2019
I had the honor of meeting Katie at my very first Cavalier show. Through the years I watched her show large breeds at all breed shows as well as our Cavaliers. I cherish the time that I was able to spend with her and learn about the early years of Cavaliers in England. We all knew that this day would eventually come it does for all of us but it does not make it easy. We have lost a true matriarch of our breed. She will live in our memories and our hearts. You will be missed Katie
Posted by Elspeth Davey on April 13, 2019
An amazing, feisty lady. Feel privileged to have known her. 102 is a great achievement; well done, Katie. You made an impact on my and many others' lives and will be missed. Sorry I didn’t win when I showed your dog... Remembered with love. Sympathy to Sara, Revett and Geoff.
Posted by Jean Tremblay on April 13, 2019
A twinkling eye, a sharp wit, an adventurous spirit, a character of determination, a teacher who taught with facts to those patient enough to listen and a spirit and energy she diffused so easily. That is how I will remember Katie. That, and rubber boots, on the field of Bucks County kennel club with a soft rain on early mornings or grass heavy with dew when others panicked about wet grass she stood there and announced her dogs had good feet and straight bone no worry about the furnishings hiding faults, and praise for a dog of my breeding she found most worthy. Many thanks to her family for allowing us access , like you had much choice in the matter , truly a legend as much as she did not find herself worthy of that title. Godspeed Katie!
Posted by Lucy Murray on April 13, 2019
Katie was always my favourite aunt. As a child, I visited her house near Newbury, Berkshire, UK, many times. I knew her then as Auntie Jean. From childhood I remember her as tall, slim and very elegant, even though always surrounded by dogs, goats and horses. Her love of animals was always evident, a compassion which was shared by my mother Daphne (her sister), and which has been passed down through the generations. In line with her deep feeling for animals, Katie was vegetarian for most of her life, a dedication which has enriched my own family, and my grandson, here in Australia.
With Amice Pitt, Daphne Murray, and several others, Katie was a pioneer in the re-establishment of the breed of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the 1930's to 1950's in Britain. When Katie visited Australia for Victoria's wedding in 1998, and stayed with me, her arrival was greeted with great excitement by all the breeders in Australia, many of whom met together to seek her advice and exhibit their dogs.
Daphne was called "Granny O'Puppies" by her grandchildren. When her eldest grandchild heard of Katie's passing, she said: "Maybe Granny O'Puppies now has another pair of hands to help with all our beloved pets". I can imagine Katie and Daphne surrounded by troupes of all the Cavaliers they ever knew, of all sizes, shapes and colours, and all the children they loved, blissfully happy......
Like her own aunt, Helen Chapman (who also lived to 102 years), Katie lived a very long and extremely full life, and was very well cared for in her later years. She had raised a very appreciative family. Katie was a legend.
Posted by Denise Chandler on April 13, 2019
Hi Sara, So sorry to hear your sad news, 102 is a good age. We met Katie when we visited BC with Chris & Mel way back in Dec 2007. We send you all our love, always, thinking of you, as we often do, I take great pleasure in reminding William & Rupert that they've got another grandmother in Canada. I am pleased they were both able to visit and meet Katie - we have a wonderful picture of you all from that visit. Love to all your family over in BC.
Denise & Roy Chandler x
Posted by Judith Gates on April 13, 2019
I met Katie when I travelled to Canadian Cavalier Club shows in the early 90’s just before the American Kennel Club enabled the breed to gain full recognition in the Toy Group. She and I corresponded from time to time over the years since then, and we shared litter brothers - Bobby Two and Bayberry - from Jeanie Montford (Elvenhome) . I was able to ask her about some of the early colorful UK Club members’ backgrounds and personalities. I treasure that I knew her personally. I am blessed.
Posted by Marian Mynott on April 13, 2019
My husband Steve and I were blessed to have met Katie on a few occasions. The most memorable time for us was during a very special holiday in Canada.  It was our Silver Wedding Anniversary in 1999 and we celebrated with this trip. We arranged to visit Katie at her home as we travelled through to Vancouver. We had lunch with her and spent a few hours chatting Cavaliers. She shared stories of her involvement with the breed and the history behind it. She possessed an incredible spirit of adventure, still longing to take a motor home and go travelling at that time, but accepting the concern this may give her loving family. She was so kind to us ‘novices’ in the breed and so generous with her time. We will always remember Katie for her warmth and all that she shared with us through the internet as well as in person. Rest in Peace Katie, reunited with your dogs, family and many friends who have gone before you. 
Marian and Steve Mynott xxx
Posted by Sue Miller on April 13, 2019
Sometimes in life there are people, icons really...that you think will live forever...Katie was one of those rare people. I will treasure meeting her at the National in Washington many years ago. Her love and dedication to our Cavaliers will go on. Thank you Katie and may you enjoy your loved ones on the other sidexxx
Posted by Brigitte Falch on April 13, 2019
We have lost a lady most devoted to the continued high standard of the Cavalier. I hope those who have predeceased her will be waiting to greet her at the Rainbow Bridge. Brigitte Falch-Munro
Posted by Shaune Eldred on April 12, 2019
My mother-in-law, Katie Eldred, at 102 departed this earth today to go play with all of her dogs on the Rainbow Bridge. I have many memories of Katie over the years. She was an incredibly strong woman, and headstrong, which I love her for. ;o) She knew what she wanted. She loved her dogs, her cats, and birds. She helped me through a difficult time with our dog, Sophie, when she developed Addison's Disease and guided me to a site that not only kept her alive but also where Sophie's experience was also able to help others. She gave me confidence when I decided to start dremeling Sophie's nails - little things. She was with us on my Mom's last vacation to Turks and Caicos. So many little things that mean so much. You will be missed more than you know, Katie.
Posted by Bonnie Sands on April 12, 2019
For many years she has guided us with everything related to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, her beloved breed. I had the pleasure of meeting Katie at the Cavalier Specialties and sharing stories and she was always kind and bestowed her knowledge to everyone she met. A great loss to everyone who knew her. Godspeed Katie, we will miss you dearly.
Posted by Stephanie Hart on April 12, 2019
I have known of "Katie" for 30 years but did not have the pleasure of speaking to her until 2009. At the youthful age of 92 she called me and sent many correspondence as she built an entire Cavalier Club Website. I helped only a tiny bit. Every detail as she wanted it. She is truly an inspiration. What an amazing life and an amazing woman.
Posted by Elin Becker on April 12, 2019
I met Katie at a Cavalier specialty 20 -30 years ago. When she stopped attending shows, I enjoyed reading her posts on the Cavalier list. Without her, the breed would not be where it is today.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by John Eldred on April 17, 2019
Katie was my aunt but I never met her. I wish I had because she might have disciplined our totally disobedient King Charles spaniel. He was called George acquired by my wife as a puppy from Harrods store in London. She adored him and spoilt him rotten. On walks he would go off sniffing into bushes, deaf to calls. I reasoned with Maril, my eventual wife, that calling and calling says we are here dear George. He once dived down a hole under an old tree in the woods and stayed there ignoring calls for so long that Maril had to leave us to fetch her daughter from school. I put my theory to the test and remained silent hiding below a bank. Sure enough he became concerned at our absence and came out, spied me and ran back to the hole but not fast enough, I caught his back legs. He lived to a fair age, had several small strokes and eventually didn’t come home. Next day I found his body in long grass and buried him in a quiet corner.
Posted by Chris Quinn on April 14, 2019
I had the honor of meeting Katie at my very first Cavalier show. Through the years I watched her show large breeds at all breed shows as well as our Cavaliers. I cherish the time that I was able to spend with her and learn about the early years of Cavaliers in England. We all knew that this day would eventually come it does for all of us but it does not make it easy. We have lost a true matriarch of our breed. She will live in our memories and our hearts. You will be missed Katie
Posted by Elspeth Davey on April 13, 2019
An amazing, feisty lady. Feel privileged to have known her. 102 is a great achievement; well done, Katie. You made an impact on my and many others' lives and will be missed. Sorry I didn’t win when I showed your dog... Remembered with love. Sympathy to Sara, Revett and Geoff.
her Life

The early days

Katie was born Kathleen Jean Kirkby on February 22, 1917, in Northampton, UK.  At age 20 she married John Eldred and bore him three children: Sara Virginia, Revett Alexander, and Gervase (Geoff) Willington.  She and John divorced in 1948 and she then raised all three kids on her own, in post-war Britain complete with rationing and nothing more than a secretary's salary.  She was a powerful role model for her offspring.

Known back then as Jean, Katie was always a dog person, but became particularly interested in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels through her sister, Daphne, already a breeder in her teens.

Turnworth Cavaliers

Katie started selectively breeding Cavaliers even before she gave birth to her first child.  She operated under the name Turnworth Kennels, later Turnworth Cavaliers, the name being derived from a time when she lived in the village of Turnworth, Dorset.   She quickly developed a positive reputation, becoming known as a champion of the breed and, along the way, developing strong and occasionally controversial opinions about desirable characteristics.

She selected potential owners of her puppies as carefully as she selected breeding pairs.

America

After two of Katie's three children left home, she and Geoff moved in 1961 from Newbury to the Isle of Wight.  But wanderlust soon got the better of her and she and Geoff followed Sara's example and emigrated to the United States in 1963.  Sara had originally emigrated to New York where she worked for Time-Life publications, but an English accent, a pretty demeanour, and a sense of humour led her to enroll with PanAm as an 'air hostess', so she moved across the country to San Francisco.  Katie decided to go straight west, bypassing the East Coast, and found both a home and employment in Novato, a small town near San Rafael north of San Francisco.  She started her career with McGraw Hill publishing company.

It was after an ill-fated love affair with a co-worker that Katie transferred to McGraw Hill's southern California office in Glendale, near Los Angeles.  There she found a home in Agua Dulce in the Mojave Desert, a locale that she came to love beyond every other place she had lived.  She lived in Agua Dulce quietly and happily, surrounded by dogs and goats, daily commuting 80 Km each way in a Ford Pinto - which never once exploded! - until her retirement in the late 1970s.

Recent stories

A wonderful lady

Shared by Annie Lewis on March 9, 2020
It seems that Katie was my late grandmother Daphne's sister. My late mother, Jane, told me many wonderful dog related stories when I was growing up and, indeed, we had Cavaliers of our own, who lived for many years and brought much joy. Katie seems like a wonderfully feisty and interesting woman and I am only sorry not to have known her. It seems she is remembered with much love and affection. 

Louise Pearce's Story

Shared by Louise Pearce on April 24, 2019

TRIBUTE TO KATIE ELDRED

1917 – 2019

As everyone already knows the history of Katie Eldred and her Turnworth Cavaliers

dating back to her involvement in England, the U.S. and Canada, I won’t repeat it, but

would like to talk about the Katie Eldred I knew and what she has accomplished in

British Columbia for the love of Cavaliers.

I met Katie approximately 35 years ago. She was one of the first people to bring

Cavaliers to British Columbia. My mother, Olivia Darbyshire moved from Alberta to

British Columbia in 1984 with her Cavaliers and Pekingese. Katie and her became

very good friends as well as friendly rivals in the dog show ring. When I moved to

British Columbia in 1985 with the rest of our dogs my mother sold her house and it was

Katie who found us a home with acreage. From there we travelled to dog shows

together in British Columbia as well as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, U.S.A.

shows. My mother and Katie would sit at ringside and critique all the Cavaliers.

Neither of them was shy about saying exactly what they thought. You learned very

quickly if you didn’t want to hear the truth about your dog then don’t ask for their

opinion.

Katie was very involved in an organization called FIDO which would promote breeds in

malls and exhibition venues as well as people could phone the members and ask

questions about the breeds and where to purchase them. It was formed to educate the

public as well as protect the breeds from Pet Shops and Puppy Mills.

In 1986 Katie and my mother decided to form a British Columbia Cavalier Club. They

worked tirelessly holding functions to raise money and get the very small Cavalier

community to join. In 1988 they sent in the Application for Recognition of a Club to

the Canadian Kennel Club. There were 13 members of which Katie was the President.

February 1st, 1989 The Canadian Kennel Club approved the application. The first

Specialty Show was October 7th, 1992 in which Jane Lilley of West Sussex, England

was the Judge. The entry was 38 which was very surprising, for at that time there

were not many Cavaliers in the area.

On October 8th, 2016 the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of BC held its 25th

Specialty. It was decided for this milestone event that we should honor our founding

members. Katie’s daughter, Sara brought Katie. She was 99-1/2 years old. (See

photo)

Katie Eldred was indeed an ambassador to the Cavalier and will be thought of fondly

for years to come.

Louise Pearce


Geoff's story

Shared by Revett Eldred on April 23, 2019

I have sparse and scattered memories involving Ma (as we called her – solely because she told us decades ago “call me whatever you want except don’t call me ‘Ma’”. So of course being Eldreds ….!)

The earliest I can recall is being in a child seat on the back of her bike (which I remember as being some HUGE cast iron affair!) being ridden up Berrybarn Lane in West Wittering to go to primary school, often finding when I got there that I had forgotten my packed lunch and Ma would have to cycle back for it. I would have been about five.

A later memory is at Woodspeen Lodge near Newbury, she would be taking the dogs for a walk to the village of Speen and would ask if I wanted to come along. Often I would decline, and then sometimes a few minutes after her departure I would secretly ‘track’ her across the countryside, thinking what a clever undercover tracker I was. If ever I lost the trail, a quick stand upright would show me this tall regal woman striding across the countryside with a pack of anywhere between three and six dogs running all around her. Eventually I would get close enough and jump up, yelling “gotcha” and catching her ‘by surprise’. I never did know whether she was taken in by my furtive tracking or whether she knew I was behind her every time I did it.

Another Woodspeen memory is her occasionally suddenly hustling us kids out the front door of the house, ‘shushing’ us and telling us not to make a sound; turns out she had spied the local vicar coming to the back door and she wanted to avoid any discussion with him about attending church or some village fete or whatever, preferring instead for us all to hide in the spinney behind the house. Or the local bobby came to tell her that her donkey and goat had escaped the paddock and were last seen roaming the village of Stockcross and would she please arrange to recapture them – NOW!

And when we later moved to the Isle of Wight Katie had a go at running a Bed & Breakfast in Seaview, but after one season I think she found it way too much work constantly being nice to complete strangers and catering to these humans’ every whim. And of course the inevitable dogs running around the establishment probably did not endear her lodgings to some of the guests! Now, if she had been operating a kennel …..