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Thank You, Margaret, for the Lessons and the Memories

My Mother-In-Law, Margaret Neumann

My Mother-In-Law, Margaret Neumann

My mother-in-law, Margaret Neumann, passed away on Monday night at the age of 96. She was a beautiful, elegant lady who taught me a lot about life and family. Until a few months ago, Margaret had lived in her own apartment a few blocks from our home, maintaining the independent life she had lived since my father-in-law passed away 26 years earlier. Margaret was a wise woman. Here are just a few of things she taught me after my marriage to Brenda.

  1. Always speak the truth. In the 50 years I knew Margaret, I never knew her to embellish the facts or mislead anyone.
  2. Put family first. She was fiercely protective of her children even in her later years. In a time when parents never took the side of their children against school teachers or other adults, Margaret was the exception.
  3. Take pride in your appearance. She kept a fastidious home and cleaned her own apartment until just recently. She was equally attentive to her own appearance, rarely forgoing makeup and always dressed in something nice. Margaret had a level of confidence rare for women in the 1960s.

One of the earliest posts I wrote for Dog Show Poop was Dog Show Life Lessons, in which I talked about how important the older members of our fancy are to our sport. From the first day I stepped into a show hall, I have sought out the company of those older than I. I am fond of using the Oscar Wilde quote, “I am not young enough to know everything.” These days, it is a little harder to find fellow fanciers older than I, but there are a few out there. The good news is that there are now some exhibitors younger than I from whom I can learn something. When you go to a show, see if you can find one of these people and ask them about their breed or the state of our sport in general. I promise you will get information you can’t find on Wikipedia or by Google. And that’s today’s Back Story. Thanks for the memories, Margaret.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Susan Chaney
    Susan Chaney March 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    We are both so lucky, Billy, to have mothers-in-law who helped us grow as people. Mine, fortunately, is still an inspiration to me. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost yours. And there’s no way I’d be working with all of you on Best In Show Daily if I hadn’t been mentored by great journalists and editors along the way…

  • Sylvie McGee March 17, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    What a lovely picture of your mother-in-law, Billy, and what a lovely tribute you have written of her. Your love for her really shines through! I am sorry for your loss…

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