The Isabel S. Kurth Award was established by the Board of the Newfoundland Club of America in 1993 to honor an extraordinary woman whose service to the club, dedication to the principles on which it stands and devotion to the breed is legendary. This award recognizes that member who best captures the spirit and exemplifies the standards of excellence in service and devotion to the breed that Isabel Kurth had so tirelessly set.
1999 - Louise Esiason
At the Annual Meeting at the 1999 National Specialty, President Clyde Dunphy presented the Isabel S. Kurth Award to Louise Esiason. This award was established to recognize outstanding service to the Newfoundland Club of America. The recipient is chosen by the Board of Directors.
When Louise and Roy Esiason purchased their first Newf in 1964, neither of them had a clue as to what a profound impact this breed would have on their lives nor the impact they would have on the breed and its fanciers.
Parents of three small children at the time, they had discussions about getting the children a dog. Both agreed on the idea, but had no idea of what breed. The idea was put on hold while they spent a year in Norway. While on a family outing near Lillehammar, out of the woods came a large black dog hauling a fully loaded sled. The owner stopped to talk with the family and then came to the lodge where they were staying and gave the children rides. Louise turned to Roy and uttered the fateful words, "Now that's a DOG! That's what I want!"
From a litter by Ch. Little Bear's Thunder, UD and out of Dryad's Honeoye Laurelei, the Esiason's brought home Thunder's Karla. Karla was to be the children's pet, but the veterinarian that they chose was a Newf breeder himself, Donald Wirth. He more or less tricked them into attending a match show where they won a first prize. They were hooked. Karla finished her championship easily. Litters followed, the Esiason's moved to their beautiful mountain top home outside of Granville, New York, and Ebonewf Kennels was started.
Louise finished her degree in nursing and started working as a school nurse, raising three kids and taking care of Roy's father. The kennel expanded- at one time it was close to 25 dogs. Louise moved into nursing education and was an instructor at Castleton State College in Vermont. She later became dean of the department and retired from there a few years ago.
In addition to their family life and showing and breeding their Newfs, Louise and Roy both became active in the Newf world. They were members and office holders in the Glens Fall Kennel Club and the now defunct Granville Kennel Club. They joined the Newfoundland Club of America in the late '60's and have held continuous membership since. They joined the Northland Newfoundland Club a year after it was founded in 1970 and are still participating members. They have been members of the Newfoundland Club of New England and the Bear Mountain Newfoundland Club.
As regional club members, they have served in numerous capacities over the years. Both have served as president of Northland. They have held other offices and been on numerous committees for many years. They hosted the Northland fun match every year until the event outgrew their grounds and they continue to host many meetings and functions at their home. Louise was the show chair for Northland's 1978 National "Super" Specialty in Warrensburg, New York. In 1998, Northland recognized their years of service by awarding them honorary membership and saying a heartfelt thank you.
Roy was the first to serve on the NCA Board, from 1980 through 1982. In 1980 he served as Corresponding Secretary. Louise joined the NCA Board in 1983 and served through 1990. She served as Board President from 1988-1990. Louise also worked on many different NCA committees. The NCA awarded Louise the Gaines Medal for Sportsmanship in 1992, and Louise and Roy were voted honorary members of the NCA.
During Louise's tenure on the NCA Board, her ability to listen to all sides and her leadership skills brought the NCA back from the brink of destruction during the late '80's embezzlement, the resulting financial crisis and the aftermath. Her sense of fair play and diplomatic skills led the Board through many a heated discussion One could wonder where the NCA would be today without her moderating influence and consensus building skills.
Louise and Roy were also managing an active breeding and showing kennel. Health and soundness were and are of paramount importance. Louise is very proud of the fact that for some time all breeding stock was OFA-certified. She is ever vigilant against heart problems. Ebonewf dogs show up in many pedigrees across the country and figure prominently in some bloodlines. Louise has bred regional specialty winners, National Specialty placement winners and has finished many Newfs' championships. Ebonewf's Karla Bear earned her ROM. Ebonewf's Brown Bomber was a particular favorite of Louise and Roy and sired many beautiful browns and blacks. Ch. Topmast's Sasquatch was another very special dog to them, and they are now enjoying seeing Sassy's kids and grandkids doing well in the ring. Louise can still be seen in the ring today-doing her own handling and winning her fair share of the points on three lovely bitches and soon on a handsome puppy dog.
Another point that speaks most highly is the number of repeat puppy buyers that come back every 10 years or so and will only settle for an Ebonewf puppy. Louise is also known for taking beginners under her wings, helping and advising them while they experience the perils and pitfalls of this sport. And she is genuinely happy when these beginners succeed in the ring or the whelping box. Many people have benefitted greatly from her advice and counsel. She is a good and trusted friend to many, many people.
reprinted from Newf Tide 3Q 1999