American Field

January 15, 1934—August 28, 2021

Rheta Cartmell — Devoted to the Brittany

Oct 13, 2021
Rheta Cartmell

The Brittany breed has lost a lifetime supporter and promoter with the passing of Rheta Cartmell at age 87 on August 28, 2021. Rheta, along with her husband Bill, who passed on August 23, 2016, worked for years to promote and improve the breed. Rheta’s influence and dedication went far beyond that of most members.

Rheta was born in Lucedale, Miss. She passed away peacefully at home on August 28 after living with her son Jim during the last period of her life.  Rheta suffered a cerebrovascular incident prior to her passing.

Rheta met Bill while at “Ole Miss” in Oxford, Miss., and they were married in 1954. After Bill completed his education, they moved to New York where he began a 36-year career with IBM. After Bill retired in April 1994, they purchased property at the breakaway on the national championship grounds in Booneville Ark., and were permanent residents.

Rheta had an impact on the Brittany breed since she first joined the ABC in 1961. In the 1960s and 1970s, she and Bill were active in trialing on the East Coast and principals in the running of the Upper New York Club’s field trials. In those days the upper New York Club trial was the premier event on the East Coast.

Their Tyoga's Teddy Bear was a winning hour dog and was campaigned and handled by Loyd Budd. He was named champion (40 starters) in the 1989 prestigious United States Open Brittany Championship. Tyoga’s Miss Judy Judy was also campaigned by them.

Rheta and Bill were strong advocates of one-hour stakes and promoted the International Brittany Championship held on Dr. Walker Heap's grounds near Watertown, N.Y.  (Dr. Heap was also an influential figure in the Brittany world. His S'No Fun Mack racked up thirty wins in a sparkling career (1966-1975), most of his wins in one-hour stakes.)

The Cartmells also became involved in the United States Open Brittany Championship at Ardmore, Okla.

Over the years they compiled statistics, wrote articles and pushed for endurance Brittany stakes. They set up computer record keeping for the ABC to coordinate records and produce charts of wins for Brittanys, which led to her becoming the ABC statistician. All of this was done to help the owners, breeders and the breed.

In 1981 Rheta became editor of the American Brittany magazine and held the job for five years. She was one of a group of individuals who worked to finish the Book of the American Brittany that Nicky Bissell could not complete because of her health. After researching and assembling information, Rheta wrote the Book of the American Brittany, 1980s edition.

Over the years, she served the ABC as the National Field Trial Secretary and served on the National Show Committee, National Field Trial Committee and the Trophy Committee.

Rheta and Bill were a driving force behind the creation and formation of the Brittany Field Trial Hall of Fame and museum located at the Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tenn. They managed this organization for many years, conducting the nomination process, balloting, election and the induction ceremonies. This organization gathers and preserves the history of the Brittany in the museum, starting from their introduction into the United States in the 1930s and continuing up to the present day. Both Rheta and Bill are members of this Hall of Fame.

There will be a celebration of Rheta’s life later in the year and arrangements will be announced. Donations in her memory should be sent to the Bird Dog Foundation, Brittany Fund, at Bird Dog Foundation, 505 Highway 57W, Grand Junction, TN 38039.

To many oldtimers, not enough can be said about the impact Rheta and Bill Cartmell had on the Brittany breed, field trialing and the Hall of Fame.


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