A Personal Tribute to Elizabeth Gilardi Richards(1958- 2020)
Some of you didn’t know Betsy and I am sorry for that. She was the heart and soul of the Berger Picard Club of America.
Without Betsy this club wouldn’t have become a reality when it did or become as cohesive a group of Picard fanciers as we are.
When she saw the movie “Because of Winn Dixie,” she fell head-over-heels in love with that dog!
She saw it with one of her sons. I saw it with my daughter.
We didn’t know each other when we started our individual quests to France to bring back a puppy. it seems odd now but the only way folks found each other back then was on the international Yahoo group.
Via Yahoo, Betsy gathered several of us together to create a club dedicated to honoring and protecting this wonderful French breed. Along the way, she added knowlegeable breeders, judges, veterinarians, herding breed mentors, etc. to help us. Her long time friend, Ellen Hannan, always said Betsy never met a stranger—and that is so true.
Betsy worked hard and long to make sure our dogs were registered in the UKC and the AKC – long before the AKC recognized Berger Picards. She participated in Meet the Breed events, organized breed education seminars, judges’ training events, and encouraged so many of us to learn to show our dogs.
She personally drove to AKC headquarters to present application book when we moved into the Foundation Stock Service and ultimately achieved full recognition.
One of the highlights was our first trip to Westminster. Naturally we toasted each other and cried together. Of course we did—those of you who knew Betsy, know she was definitely a crier!
Betsy was a master of the gift of gab and could talk for hours about the breed she was so passionate about. She touched so may people who will never forget her. Her dogs are part of the foundation of the breed in this country and her three sons will do their best to carry on for her, as will many of us.
This last year was a hard fought one for Betsy and a battle she could not win. I miss her voice, her laugh, her support, her drive to make this a well-run club based on preserving and protecting this breed we all adore so very much. I’m not the only one who misses her.
I hope that you all will come to our 2020/2021 National Specialty. Even if you don’t normally show your dogs, bring them if you can, for Betsy. Our show will be dedicated to her memory with special events geared toward that end.