Dick Lane sadly passed away on January 9, 2006. The field trial community has not only lost a true sportsman, but a good friend. His unique laugh and great sense of humor brought a smile to all who were there to hear it and the sparkle in his eyes brightened any room he entered. Mr. Lane will be truly missed.
Dick Lane was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 7, 1914, but his parents left for California when he was only six weeks old. He lived in parts of the Eastern United States for a few years after that, but the family settled back in Southern California and Dick has remained there since his early adolescence. He was married to his wife Sylvia for 62 years. They have one daughter, Linda, and a granddaughter, Lucy. Sylvia, always by his side at spaniel field events, passed away a few years ago. Dick has another daughter, Patricia, with whom he had lived with his last few years in Camarilla, CA.
Patricia tells us that Dick got his drivers license at age twelve, and bought his first car, a Model T Ford, with money he earned as a paperboy. Other than working in construction all over the world, the only other hobby that took Dick away from his dogs was his love for deep sea fishing. Patricia says, "He always loved boats and would navigate across the ocean to Catalina Island. When he was 18, he lived on the island learning his construction trade." Fishing was his early passion, and Dick still holds the record for catching the largest black sea bass since 1962, at 567 pounds!
Dick’s early mentors were Steve Studnicki and Paul Ruddick. Dick says, "Paul was the best dog trainer I’ve ever known - who never got the credit he deserved." Dick’s voice still beamed with pride as he spoke of his show bred springer named "Miss Twinkle". Around 1950, this springer was the high point puppy in the country. Dick mentioned that in those years, most of the springers competing in trials were from show lines. He recalled that it wasn’t until the Armours of Chicago imported field trial springers from England that field trial lines made their mark here in the United States. In the 1950’s,
the Lanes also owned an American cocker named FC Wild Acre Liberace, who was selected to be on Field & Stream’s "All American Cocker Team", which consisted of five dogs of each sporting breed chosen by the magazine and honored for their accomplishments. Other dogs that Dick owned and handled were:
- CNFC/FC Patchwood’s Trapper, handled to his 1985 Canadian National win by Dick Vermazen
- FC Fetchfeather’s Valiant, US High Point Open Dog in 1984, 2nd in 1985 Canadian National; also handled by Dick Vermazen
- FC Fetchfeather’s Apache Chief, son of 2x NFC Saighton’s Sizzler
- FC Fetchfeather’s Tom Tom, grandson of FC/NAFC Saighton’s Signal
- FC/AFC Fetchfeather’s Dove, half-sister to FC/NAFC BJ’s Copper Penny and FC/NAFC Gleangillen’s Flying Tiger
Dick had many long time friends, two of whom are still around today running dogs. Robert Sanchez, a professional trainer and field trial gun since the late 1940’s, met Dick in 1947 at Dick’s hunting club in Mexico, near the Rio Hardy. Bob says, "You will never find a kinder, more generous man, or better role model than Dick Lane. He is one classy guy." Larry Lawrence, another long time friend and field trialer wrote, "Over the years, one of the most remarkable phenomena about Dick Lane has been his willingness to accept each field trial as it comes without complaint. I do not recall him complaining,
as most of us do, about the judges, the guns, the field trial committee or even the banquet. Perhaps this attitude was influenced by his good friend and professional trainer/handler, Paul Ruddick, who said, ‘You pays your money and you takes your chances.’ Dick has devoted a major portion of his adult life to springer field trials and the breed... and they are better as a result."
In February, 2002, Mr. Richard M. Lane was inducted to the Bird Dog Hall of Fame for his contribution over six decades to English springer spaniel field trials. He was pivotal in starting and supporting many of the Southern California clubs, still in existence today. Dick was instrumental in bringing out quality judges and springer trainers to the west and, for 15 years, provided the Southern California Pheasant Club as the base for the San Fernando Valley English Springer Spaniel Club field trials, as well as for other area clubs to hold their events. Although he sold this property a few years back,
he continued to oversee the San Fernando Valley club and was campaigning Fetchfeather’s Dancer up until the season before he passed away.
Over the years, Dick judged many field trials. He was President of the NESSFTA (National) in 1985, served on countless field trial committees and provided many newcomers with the extraordinary history that he carried with him regarding the sporting spaniel. To quote Field Trial Hall of Famer Janet Christensen: "Dick exemplifies the true sportsmanship that we should always be striving for in our field trials. He is a complete gentleman."