DONNA JEAN THOMPSON
ONCE UPON A TIME. . . . .long ago in 1967, there were four or five cat lovers from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania who formed a cat club. They had their first show in Lebanon, PA on October 2 and 3, 1971. Several of us did not care for the association selected for this club. We broke away and formed Greater Lancaster Feline Fanciers, Inc. and joined the world's greatest association: CFA.
GLFF put on their first CFA show May 11 and 12, 1974 at the Guernsey Barn in Lancaster, PA. And, I must add a personal note, it was on May 11, 1974 that I met Ray Pinder and we became friends forever. Ray was showing his beautiful chinchilla silver female Persian, Holmark Cuddles, a gift from his life's partner, Joe "Dino" Sciorillo. Cuddles and Ray absolutely loved each other for the next 18 years.
However, it was GLFF's second annual CFA show held on May 10 and 11, 1975 that we remember and have talked about throughout the years. In those days we had four judging's, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Our esteemed judges for this show were two allbreed judges, Richard Koepp and Jane S. Martinke; and, two longhair/shorthair specialty judges, Richard Gebhardt and Adam Frecowski.
The theme for our show was Pennsylvania Dutch," and I was the show secretary as well as the publicity chair. Debby Haas, who is still a member of GLFF, was our entry clerk, and assisted me with information I had forgotten, to be able to write this article.
Back in those days, we gave out trophies for prizes as well as rosettes. Loretta Willwerth was an exhibitor at our first show and now at our second show Loretta Willwerth Baugh donated three trophies: for Best Premier, Third Best Cat in Premiership as well as Fifth Best Cat in Championship.
Mark Hannon was showing his beautiful female Havana Grand Champion Hallmarque's Dru II of Marcus, as well as clerking for Judge Richard Koepp. Diane Castor was clerking for Jane Martinke and showing her open brown tabby Persian female, Sarouk's Kara of Playwickey. Another Playwickey brown tabby Persian cat was also being shown in the premiership class, Ch. and Pr. Playwickey's Lila's Doll. It should be noted, at this time in CFA, we had novice, open, champion/premier and grand champion/grand premier classes. We also gave awards for Best and Best Opposite Sex in Novice, Open, Champion and Grand Champion classes.
Also, the GLFF kitten class had a Russian blue kitten, Velva's Bit O' Honey of Sa-Phy, bred by Diana Doernberg. Dino Sciorillo's Joedean's Earthquake, a seal point Himalayan kitten, who went all the way to stardom in CFA, was also being shown in the kitten class. Actually, Dino was showing a total of three kittens in the class.
Ch. Thaibok Sugar Blues, a blue point female Siamese as well as a seal point female Siamese, Ch. Singa Swinger, were being shown by Donna and Ed Davis. Also, in the champion seal point female Siamese class was Ch. Hutzler's Astarte of Le-Von, the breeder being Walter Hutzler.
Karol Molly, a novice black American shorthair was being shown. The sire was GC Shawnee Creditor of Karol and dam was Ch. Shawnee Doresca of Karol. Karol Molly was shown and became my first American shorthair Grand Champion in CFA. Creditor also sired a lovely female silver tabby, Karol Cleopatra, who was an open entry at this show and did become a CFA champion.
In addition, shown in the championship class, was a novice Persian cream male, Jeannel Gold Spice of Arahn bred by Donna Jean Thompson. The striking sire of this cat was Grand Champion Jeannel Old Spice and the dam was Ch. Jeannel Buttermint.
The show seemed to run smoothly on Saturday. However, one of our judges was bitten by a cat. And, sometime during the day on Saturday, Jane Martinke became ill. She had been breeding tabby Persians for the past 50 years under the name of Minqua cattery, and now was a CFA allbreed judge. GLFF was proud to have her return to judge our show again this year. Jane did complete her entire assignment Saturday, which included longhair kittens, shorthair kittens, and an Allbreed kitten final. Also, all the longhair classes with the exception of the tabby class which totaled 13 cats were judged by Jane. At the show, we had four specialties in Premiership. Jane did complete the longhair premiership class and had her final.
It was early Sunday morning, when Richard Gebhardt called to ask me to get to the hotel as soon as possible. It seemed that Jane would not come to the door for the judges, and Dick thought, perhaps, she would come to the door for me. I dressed immediately and drove down to the hotel. Jane did open the door for me and explained to me that she was very ill. She had called her husband, Tom, and he was on his way up from Newark, Delaware to pick her up. I offered her several services and options; all were refused.
After a long conversation with Dick Gebhardt, the President of CFA, we were on our way to the Guernsey Barn for the show. I was very worried and was trying to think of what I was going to tell the exhibitors.
Unbeknownst to us, at about the same time, driving down Route 30 to visit our CFA championship show, was a woman on the most beautiful white horse I ever did see. Traveling from Henryville, Pennsylvania, about 125 miles from our show hall, was Donna Jean Thompson.
As I drove into the parking lot, Dick Gebhardt shouted: "Stop!" I did. He jumped from the car to try to stop Donna Jean from entering the show hall and getting a catalog. At the same time, Dick was looking through his briefcase and handed me a contract; and, with some fast instructions from him, I was off to talk with our visitor who was an Allbreed CFA judge. Donna Jean listened to my tale of woe, was very kind, signed the contract, and was off to do something I have never, ever forgotten.
Can you just imagine taking over someone else's judging schedule? Can you just imagine judging all the shorthairs and then bringing back all the longhairs that were breed and second best of breed winners and champion wins from another judge's judging to put together an Allbreed final?
Furthermore, Diane Castor had informed the show committee that she would be unable to return on Sunday to clerk for Jane Martinke. Can you just imagine doing this without having the clerk return? I could not. This was and still is beyond my realm of comprehension. Several of us took turns clerking in Donna Jean's ring on Sunday. I did not know this at the time, but we did have a master judge at work in Ring 1, and what a superb job she did!
First of all, Donna judged all the shorthair premiers, and had her shorthair premiership final. The Persian tabby division class was called to her ring for judging. Remember, there were 13 cats which were not judged by Jane Martinke, as they were scheduled to be judged on Sunday. After completing that task, Donna Jean went through all the shorthair championship class which included the following: Abyssinian 9, American SH 12, Burmese 8, Color Point 4, Havana Brown 1, Korat 2, Manx 1, Rex 5, Russian Blue 9, Siamese 38 and AOV SH 1, which was a female champagne Burmese.
Now it was time for her to call back all the class winners which Jane had selected on Saturday, put her shorthairs in the mix; and, then to select and announce her allbreed final. I have no idea how Donna Jean did it. . .but she did do it. I can still hear the exhibitors applauding Donna Jean today. I thought it would not stop. It was a splendid performance! And, it was not only a marvelous moment for Greater Lancaster Feline Fanciers, Inc., but also a momentous moment for CFA. . . . .AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER!
Jane Martinke's last CFA judging assignment was completed on Saturday, May 10,
1974, for she was taken safely home into heaven the next week. The Greater
Lancaster Feline Fanciers, Inc. was proud to dedicate the third annual CFA
championship show, May 8 and 9, 1976, in memory of the "free spirit" of Jane