The LRCP Celebrates The Memory of
Martha Lee Voshell
Charter Member and Breed Icon
(January 31, 1931 - March 15, 2006)
Martha Lee gave so much to our wonderful breed - her accomplishments as a breeder, trainer, exhibitor, handler and competitor in the arenas of field, obedience and conformation are legendary and well documented. But there were the special qualities unique to Martha Lee, dear friend and mentor, that have given me memories to treasure for a lifetime.
Our friendship began in the early '80s as we met once a year in Leesburg at the Potomac specialty. I was struck instantly then by martha Lee's patience and willingness to share a wealth of knowledge and experience, her forthright character and sense of fair play, and the amazing energy she gave to everything she did. As the years passed and friendship grew into frequent collaboration, nothing ever happened to change my initial impressions of this remarkable lady. Rather, my respect for her many enviable talents only continued to grow. Martha lee's ability to speak her mind or share an opinion when asked was well known but she always delivered her words of wisdom with a smile or a chuckle in such a way that even the most sensitive person could not take offense. her opinions and dry wit were often flavored with favorite expressions reminiscent of her native and genteel Virginia upbringing. My favorite was uttered on day when Martha Lee and I were sitting ringside watching a bitch class and as they moved down and back, one bitch in particular caught our attention and Martha Lee declared that she did indeed appear to have "a hitch in her gitalong!"
She was the ultimate sportswoman, win or lose, and always accepted the decision with grace and good humor. Generous with her time and support, and always willing to lend a hand, "no" was not a word often found in the vocabulary at the Voshell residence. I often marveled at Buddy's patience and tolerance as martha lee, ever the night owl, could be found chatting away on the phone many an evening after 10pm. NASCAR and country music were favorite passions and friends knew better that to distract martha Lee on Sunday afternoon if the races were on TV.
There are so many images that come to mind when I reflect on the times spent in her company: Martha Lee zipping around the pasture at home on her four-wheeler with dogs racing beside her; dining with Martha Lee and Buddy at their favorite watering holes both at home and away at shows; and Martha Lee's delight and newfound pleasure with all the upscale features of her motorized scooter.
Many Broad Reach labradors found their way to my doorstep over the years and likewise, you will find many others who grace pedigrees from the east to west coasts or simply enjoy life as beloved family pets. Labradors were Martha Lee's world and she refused to retire even when her failing health kept her from enjoying first hand the many activities that had defined her life with labradors. She bested the odds on two occasions - the first being her accident in 1981 and the second her diagnosis of cancer almost 4 years ago - no doubt, in large part, to her indomitable spirit and positive attitude. The labrador community has truly lost an icon and I, friend.
A special thank you to Carol Quaif for writing this special rememberance of Martha Lee.