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Helen Bole Jones

A Tribute
by jonathan jeffrey kimes

Helen Bole Jones’ name is known on some level by every serious Cardigan fancier.  I was fortunate to come to know her quite well for a period of time and during that time I developed a great love for her that will last in my heart forever.  In thinking about Helen, I find I cannot just issue little descriptive epithets because she was a very complex person and there is no simple attribute that I can use to describe her that would be entirely accurate.  That, of course, is the fascination of Helen.

Helen was a member of a famous Cleveland family and her pedigree was as prestigious as any dog she might have owned.  Her mother, the former Nancy Adams, was the daughter of a renowned Boston surgeon, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston Adams, who was educated at both MIT and Harvard and was himself the son of a renowned physician of the same name.  He served as an instructor at Harvard between 1918 and 1924 and was President of the American Orthopedic Association.  He was noted for his love of nature including birds and flowers and this was passed onto Helen’s mother who had a great passion for flowers and maintained a beautiful greenhouse on the family estate, Hanging Rock.  Helen told me her mother, at quite an advanced age, enjoyed such far flung activities as floating through the Amazon River with her like-minded companions studying the plant life. 

It was of great interest to me to read this description of her maternal grandfather, “ [He] was a typical New Englander, with strong, uncompromising convictions which had come down by inheritance from the rugged character of the early Puritans.  He had an innate sense of justice and was intolerant of anything which suggested insincerity, and he never temporized in his dealings with what he felt to be right.  This made him strong in his dislikes and generous and loyal to his friends.  These characteristics made themselves evident by an outspoken frankness and directness, which, although not always tactful, was the expression of his firm convictions and rather endeared him to his friends, who recognized in this trait an evidence of his integrity and honest thinking.”  I think Helen inherited a great deal of her personality from this man.

On her father’s side, Helen was the great-granddaughter of noted attorney and businessman, Liberty Holden, who made his fortune in silver mining.  Helen’s great-grandmother, Delia, was one of the founders of what would become the Cleveland Institute of Art.  One of their sons, Alfred F. Holden, obtained his degree in mineralogy from Harvard and soon amassed a mining corporation so vast it was at one time recognized as the second largest in the world.  Alfred Holden even had a mineral named after him called holdenite and a flower called the Alfred F Holden lilac.  The Holden side of the family was also nature loving, and Alfred established a trust before his death for an arboretum.  It was, in fact, Alfred’s sister, Roberta Holden Bole, who donated the first 100 acres to establish the arboretum in 1931.  Through careful management and significant support through the decades, the Holden Arboretum is one of the largest in the nation and today spans more than 3,500 acres and is one of Cleveland’s major attractions.   The arboretum is co-located next to the Hanging Rock estate as it was originally part of that property.

Also of interest was a coin collection which was begun by Liberty Holden and passed down to his son, Alfred, and through his descendents.  This coin collection, which became known as the Norweb Collection, was sold by Helen’s second cousin in the late 1980’s for over $10 million.

Helen’s grand-mother, Robert Holden Bole, is, of course, a very familiar name to any student of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi for she is the person who imported the first members of the breed to the United States.  Liberty Holden purchased a newspaper, the New Dealer, and Helen’s grandfather, Benjamin Patterson Bole, an attorney who passed the bar in 1899, became president of the publishing parent of the Plain Dealer in 1929 as well as publisher of The News in 1932 when their combined value was the equivalent of over $100 million in today’s currency. Benjamin Patterson Bole was also president of the Hollenden Hotel Company and was a director of several other corporations.

Helen’s father, Professor Benjamin Patterson Bole, Jr. was their only child and inherited the pedagogical bent in the family and most certainly the family’s love of nature.  He served as a curator for several years at the Cleveland Museum after his graduation from Harvard and became well known for his nature walks.   After receiving his masters degree he became a professor at Western Reserve.  He died in 1980 after reportedly suffering for over eight months from Lou Gehrig’s disease, the same disease which affected his mother and, ultimately, his daughter.  Helen became afflicted with ALS in her late fifties and it is this disease which is responsible for losing her so prematurely.

I know that shortly after Helen’s graduation from college she went to England to learn more about Cardigans and visited some of the major kennels at that time, bringing home a companion from Kentwood.  Although certainly “in dogs” for the whole of her life, I gathered the Bole approach was a somewhat more casual affair than what one normally associates with serious dog breeders.  For instance, Helen told me how trips to dog shows involved loading up the dogs loose in the car and off they went!  Although the mansion which originally stood on the Hanging Rock estate was destroyed by fire, Helen and I once walked through some of woods near where the house stood and located some of the original dog houses which were used by her grandmother to house the early Cardigans.  These were typical of the English-style dog houses which were small buildings but large enough for one to stand up in them and they were connected to small yards.  The much photographed pond by the original house always held a bitter memory for me as Helen told me at least one of the dogs fell through the ice and drowned there. 

When Helen moved back to the Cleveland area from living a number of years at the other family out posting in Maine, the garage attached to the greenhouse which still stands at Hanging Rock was used to house her dogs while she lived in a rented apartment in town.  There is a chauffeur’s apartment above the garage which I believe the late David Serrat once lived in, but I never saw it.  Before she left Maine, Helen ordered a prebuilt home from a builder in the northeast but it seemed to me to be quite some time before the current house was actually constructed.  Until such time, I thought it must be a miserable existence for Helen who had to drive out to the farm each day to care for the dogs.  Of course, my visits to Cleveland have rarely been unaccompanied by lake-effect snow so it was always cold and sloppy and I couldn’t imagine it.  The hardship never seemed to bother Helen in the least.

Helen and I originally had a very similar eye for a Cardigan as both she and I were great fans of the Pantyblaidd bloodline.  In fact, in the late 1960’s Helen imported a couple of Pantyblaidd dogs:  Bambi who was a top winner at the national specialty, and Bun, a beautiful bitch who was, in fact, Ice Anchor’s maternal great-grand dam.   I first met Helen in my early teens when she would come to Kansas City in the spring to support the famous gathering that Norma Chandler organized each year.  In those days the entry at the benched Heart of America dog show was one of the largest breed entries in the country.  Despite her glamorous looks replete with long, wavy hair and a mink coat slung over her arm, Helen never acted like these modest gatherings were anything but pure pleasure to her – she so loved the breed.

When I was in the quest for a stud dog, I almost had reached agreement with the Phillips who, at the time, were having very good success with their breeding program based on Twinroc bloodlines.  In the event, the Phillips chose to retain this dog.  (Although they soon stopped their Cardigan breeding program, the Phillips are today one of the country’s leading breeders of Chartreaux cats.)  Soon after, Norma Chandler mentioned Helen had a litter of older puppies sired by Ch Talbot’s Pilot Programme.  I contacted Helen and was pleasantly surprised to learn she had the whole litter and I told her what I was looking for.  She promised me photographs.  I waited.  Nothing.  Patience is not my best attribute, and I contacted her again and I am sure she could sense I was somewhat perturbed.  Helen informed me photographing the dogs was no easy manner but eventually I received photos of what she thought was the best dog puppy in the litter.  It was quintessential Helen – she had the proof contact sheet printed and sent me these which were the size of the original negatives.  These little photos were a message she would not be pushed and I suppose she was waiting to see what my response would be.  I have a perverse appreciation for eccentricity and they didn’t bother me in the least – I simply bought a magnifying glass and thanked her for the lovely photos!  Despite her slight orneriness, I will never forget Helen’s profound generosity and the fact she asked barely a pet price for him.  Make no mistake, Helen didn’t let Ice Anchor “get away” from her – she purposely sent me the best she could.  I always appreciated that Helen would give you roses and you just had to not mind the occasional thorn that came with them.

I did come to believe Helen when she said getting photos of “Link” was difficult.  Indeed, when he arrived at my house at one year of age, he had never had a lead on and I do not believe he had ever been behind a fence.  He had a very difficult time understanding a fence was there to contain him.  He also had poor eating habits, and, of course, knew nothing of nail trimming.  I believe he and his siblings led a free and grand time running at will in Maine. 

Helen enjoyed learning and seemed to me to always have a keen desire to do great things with dog breeding.  I encouraged her to read Raymond Oppenheimer’s books and she devoured them.  She loved the idea of breed improvement and certainly over the years she has made some very excellent strides toward improving the breed.  Helen took great joy in her dogs and I will always remember her almost girl-like laugh when something delighted her.  She had a great sense of humor.

Certainly besides breeding Ice Anchor the next most significant accomplishment Helen achieved was the bringing of Eng Ch Joseter Joson to America.  It struck me as oddly preposterous, this  big winning but little used dog making a significant life change at 10 years of age.  But over he came and Joson made a huge impact on American breeding programs. 

Over the years Helen seemed to constantly reinvent herself.  While living in Chicago, she was a wife of Samuel Jones, an attorney, and mother of two children, Sam and Nancy.  While living in Maine she had a relatively brief marriage to David Weir, a man she knew in college.  She told me he had once asked her to marry him while they were in college and I said, “What did you say?”  “Well, I don’t think I spoke to him anymore,” she said.  Years later he turned up in her driveway and they were soon married.  It seemed impetuous!  David was very “active” and I would hear reports of Helen hiking and rafting and off doing heaven knows what.  She also had a relationship with Mark Mooty, an AKC official, and she spent much time in New York City during that period of her life.  Helen bought a pedigree service and had an enormous quantity of stud books and gained significant pedigree knowledge because of it.  And, of course, the almost twenty-year marriage to Bob Caldwell, whom she had known from her earliest days in the breed, must have been a wonderful time in her life.    Helen also maintained a very close relationship with Peter and Anne Clifton for many years who’s Joseter breeding program has been one of the world’s most accomplished efforts and whom I believe she respected enormously. 

Throughout her adult life, Helen provided significant service to the breed beginning with her serving as President of the CWCCA while in her early thirties.  Helen chaired the breed standard revision committee, and was also largely responsible for the current illustrated breed standard illustrations much of which I suspect she underwrote.

This remembrance can only be a mere glimpse of someone who lived a full and interesting life.  I am not a religious person, but I am a deeply spiritual person, and I know Helen can still share in the joys we experience with the great breed that she loved so much.  I will think of her and talk with her often and I know she would appreciate hearing from you on occasion as well.  











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