Drawing by Betsy Dickenson
"Once we have been graced by the
richness of another's heart
We come to know the divine capacity of the human spirit." Flavia
Dale: Her Life and Love of Skye Terriers (PDF) by Michael J.
Following the untimely passing of Donna C. Dale on
March 10, 2001, remembrances were published in the Summer, 2001
issue of the Skye Terrier Club of America Bulletin -
My den walls are devoted to my Skyes, my cherished friends.
These Skye photos also include many of my most treasured
two-legged Skye friends. Donna is certainly among them. She was
my mentor in a way, my first Skye friend who I met for the first
time almost 30 years ago at Asheville Kennel Club when I went
specifically to meet her. It was the first dog show I'd ever
been to. She helped me to find my first show Skye. She helped me
evaluate the litters as they came along, gave me some of my
proudest wins and taught me many invaluable lessons - "Follow
your instincts", "Would you take that dog home?", "Only breed
the best to the best", "If it's not good enough to show, it's
not good enough to breed."
Without her help, I would never have had my best friend,
Bigun (Ch. Buffalo Drumnacoub), my beautiful Blossom (Ch.
Buffalo Blackberry Blossom). When she asked to breed to their
son Ch. Buffalo Broom O'Cowdenknowes, I was on cloud nine!!! She
and Ben could never really have known what that meant to me. The
really wonderful thing about Donna is that my story is certainly
not unique! There are so many, many who can tell the same story.
Her willingness and ability to take a rank novice and educate
and inspire them was a most important attribute. So was her
thoughtfulness - my adult daughters still treasure the books
she sent them when they were small - and her unquestionable love
of dogs, Skyes in particular.
Her sharing of her knowledge of Skyes and guidance inspired
me to love and enjoy Skyes, which will continue always, whether
in the ring or now on the farm. I think of Donna and I see her
smiling face... hear her speaking softly to the dogs as she pets
them... and understand that God needed some help with the Skyes.
They were being rowdy and rude and getting out of hand. He knew
who could help him most.
Betty Y. Dickenson,
Donna Dale has always been my idea of what a dog person
should be....gracious, patient, good with puppies, knowledgeable
and smiling. I always think of her with that wonderful smile.
Roger and I made it a point to bring our young Wheaten puppies
to her because we knew it would be a good experience for them. I
only wish I had taken the time to tell her how much I respected
I also remember the trip to the Skye Specialty at Great
Western that I was included in. We stayed by the harbor and I
introduced everyone to In-N-Out Burgers. What a fun trip!!! I am
happy to have been her friend and will always be grateful for
her inviting Roger and me into the Skye World and so many new
God bless you Donna----we miss you!!!
Candy Way & Roger Cotton
Bantry Bay Wheatens
My Tribute to Donna Dale
by Yvonne Roadarmel
Where do you begin when you've lost a very dear and special
friend? My friendship with Donna goes back 26 years when I met
her and her husband Ben at a dog show near my home. I knew right
away that Donna was a very special person, and felt an instant
bonding with her. A short time later, I purchased my first show
Skye from her and Ben (Ch. Gleanntan Glamour Girl), and a
wonderful friendship began! Donna became a very close friend.
She was so very kind and thoughtful and was always there to
comfort and stand by me through many rough times in my life. She
was there for me when my own family wasn't. Because of Donna,
I've been blessed with many other delightful Gleanntan Skyes who
have brought so much joy and happiness into our lives throughout
the years. A lot of wonderful memories fill my mind when I think
of Donna. Her wonderful smile. Her soft voice. Her comforting
words when I needed someone to talk to. Her endless help and
support when I had a question about grooming the Skyes or other
Skye-related questions. Her love and devotion to the Skye breed.
The cute face she would make when she was imitating and telling
a story about one of her Skyes. All the wonderful times I spent
with her and Ben. Everywhere I look in our home, I see something
that reminds me of Donna. Her beautiful needlework, and all the
wonderful T-shirts and sweatshirts that she made for me. The
beautiful Skye wreath that adorns our sunroom. Several Skye
prints and figurines throughout our home. Many photographs of
Donna, and other items too numerous to mention, but definitely a
reminder of dear Donna. Even though she is no longer with us,
she will always be very close to my heart. I refuse to let her
memory die! I feel that I was truly blessed to have had Donna in
my life! I love you and miss you, Donna.
Baltimore County KC - 1996 - L to
R: Donna, Judy Davis, Carol Simonds
Maureen Cartledge, and Sandi Smiley
I am in shock about the death of Donna Dale. I had no idea
Donna was sick and feel badly that I haven't kept in closer
contact with them. I am no longer active in Skyes but did talk
to Ben and Donna maybe once a year. I sold Ben and Donna their
first Skye Terrier, Ch. JoJac's Rise and Shine. Not only did
they purchase Kelly but also our house and kennel on Warfield
Road where they lived for many years until they retired. Donna
fell in love with the Skye Terrier at first sight and was hooked
from then on. She was eager to learn all she could and the
record speaks for itself on hers and Bens accomplishments.
Donna's Skyes were like her own children. They were her children
and her gentle way with them was a treat to watch. Her
contributions to the breed are enormous and the standard of
excellence she has set should be the goal of all who breed and
exhibit the Skye Terrier. I think the thing I remember the most
is her smile which was always present regardless of
circumstances at the time. She always had a smile for everyone.
She was an exceptional lady.
I first knew Donna as an exemplary Librarian/Media Specialist
with one of the first, and then as they became more common, one
of the best, TV programs in the elementary school system. Her
students learned to write, direct, produce, run cameras and
sound and everything else needed to televise a daily news
program for DuFief Elementary School. They were good! Several of
her former students now are professional TV producers and
directors and give her full credit for their career choice.
I then became even better acquainted with Donna in her role
as the Director of Evaluation and Selection in the Montgomery
(MD) County Public Schools. Her counsel and wisdom helped many
young, and some not so young, new librarians learn the daily
craft of their professions without going crazy. She had been
there, done that, and could suggest different ways of doing
their jobs without imposing her own style. Many a frantic phone
call to Donna resulted in that person realizing that the problem
was really solvable, not insurmountable, and calm would prevail.
MCPS mourned her retirement from their ranks for many years. No
one else quite had the "Donna Touch" of solving problems and
making everyone like the solution, all at the same time.
I then knew Donna as a quilter and crafter whose love of
color and design, and expertise in putting everything together,
made an impression on everyone she came into contact with. Donna
and I both loved to start projects; it was the completion of
them that sometimes was bothersome. We both tended to finish
things for other people before we would finish projects for
ourselves. We would travel to different quilt shows and I grew
to cherish her company and insights in yet another way. Donna
was the perfect traveling companion, always willing to explore
new places, new restaurants, new roads. She had an unerring
sense of direction and a wonderful memory for roads and how they
connected. When traveling with anyone else, I make sure I have
maps, guides, etc. With Donna, I relaxed.
Once we combined a visit to her mother-in-law with a trip to
the outlets of North and South Carolina. Donna remembered roads,
and outlets, from 10 or 20 years before. We may have taken a
wrong turn once or twice, but we always got where we were headed
in a timely fashion, and had a wonderful time doing it. I am
greatly saddened that I will not have another 20 years of
memories with Donna, but I am grateful for the 20 years of
memories that I do have. Her friendship greatly enhanced my
Danee A. Wilson
It isn't really necessary to tell all of you who knew Donna
that she was a dear person--truly sweet, gentle, and caring. Her
face and eyes reflected her kind and loving nature. I first came
to know Donna and Ben through their excellent dog "Skippy." The
friendship between them and my husband Dwight and me survived
the test of time.
Two of the many memories I have of Donna are as follows: We
were exhibitors at what I believe was the first show where she
judged Cairns. My parents especially wanted me to take them to
support the entry because they liked and respected Donna so
much. I have two photos from that day that serve as happy
It was rare for Donna and me to travel together, but we had
one unforgettable trip back from New York late at night after
the Terrier Group at Westminster. There was an awful snow and
ice storm in progress, and we witnessed many 18-wheelers
jack-knifed on the NJ Turnpike. Being the conscientious person
that she was, Donna was determined to press on because she was
scheduled to teach the following morning. It was a slow,
nerve-wracking trip, at the end of which she had to drop me off
two blocks from our house since no snow plows had penetrated our
neighborhood. However, we both were thankful we'd been together
and had arrived safely. Needless to say, school was cancelled
For myself, I'll never again be able to participate in The
Columbia Terrier Association of Maryland shows each April
without feeling Donna's spirit there with us. Her creative
touches are everywhere - such a blessing from the Lord!
According to my records, Ben, Donna and I joined the Skye
Terrier Club of America at about the same time in 1969 and since
that time they and Walt and I shared many pleasant occasions
together on both Coasts (and some in the middle!)
Donna and I both served in various capacities on the STCA
Board of Directors through the years, as well as being on the
Video Committee and, likewise, were strong competitors in the
breed ring. Through all these contacts, we became good friends
and I will truly miss her, as will many in the Skye World.
Sharing of some our memories of Donna C. Dale brings tears of
laughter, joy and sadness.
It is almost 30 years ago that I started on the quest of
owning my first Skye Terrier, and after many letters and
telephone conversations with Donna & Ben, Gleanntan Going North
(aka Mardi) was finally mine. A Gleanntan Skye Terrier coming to
Canada!! And thus began our love affair with Skyes and a
friendship that has lasted throughout the years.
Donna and Ben were always there for me. They both became my
"forever people" - there for me through good times and there for
me in sad times.
We had so many wonderful visiting trips, from the celebration
of our son Brad's birthday at Roy's Place, to meeting them for a
weekend dinner in Seattle when they were both judging. And, no
matter where we were or where we met, Donna always made sure
that I was "shopped out" by the time I went home. And if I
wasn't she would call and ask me if she could send me any of the
things I forgot, or didn't have room to take home.
On one of their trips to visit us, (I had my addiction to
Werthers and could not get them in Canada) half of a suitcase
arrived full of Werthers candies. A supply that lasted for
almost a year! So thoughtful and humorous for this to be
In another conversation I mentioned that I was learning to
cross-stitch and could not get all of the colors her (Donna
managed to send me every color that was available) literally
hundreds of scanes of thread arrived!
One of our most favorite trips was our Hawaiian spur of the
moment vacation. We have been back several times since, but have
never had so much fun. As usual we had a shopping spree, and as
usual Donna loaded up on her quilting fabrics. We had such fun
as the men went up for a helicopter ride to celebrate Ben's
birthday and we kept our feet planted on the ground and waved
gleefully as they departed. Oh free to shop alone at last!! We
toured the macadamia nut plant, ate well, told stories and of
While in Hawaii we shared a very special event with Donna and
Ben. Our first granddaughter was born on Ben's birthday. Donna
was so excited for us. So many memories, I could be writing for
hours upon hours. Thank you Donna for letting us into your life,
for always being there, for your kindness and loving gentle
manner and your quiet sense of humor. Thank you for so many
years of friendship, we were not ready to say Good bye! Thank
you for the wonderful Skyes we have had over the years. Thank
you for taking such good care of the breed. Thank you for being
there over the years when we lost some of our beloved friends,
and especially when we lost Louanne last year and THANK YOU for
sending us your precious Julie. We feel truly blessed to have
her to love.
Most of all THANK YOU for just being you! We miss you dearly
and always will. You will remain in our hearts until we meet
again dear friend. May you always walk in sunshine with your
Jan & Ernie Kowalec
Donna & Emily
When I first moved to Maryland for my first job, Donna was
the librarian at the same school. As was her way she befriended
me and taught me much about children and teaching. Then before I
knew it I was babysitting the dogs at Gleanntan Kennels. She and
Ben made me feel like family as well as providing me with my
first very own dog, Dusty (Ch. Gleanntan Feather Duster). Over
the years our paths went separate ways but I always knew she
would be there to offer advice and council. My association with
Donna certainly changed and improved my life. She will be missed
Inviting a nineteen year-old college student to her home to
share with him part of her life's work. Driving eight hours on
the day before Christmas to deliver a puppy to an anxious owner.
Staying up many night until two in the morning to "talk dogs"
with an eager student. Choosing to stand next to a young
beginner at a national specialty so that he could learn more
rather than critiquing ringside with her peers. E-mail, phone
calls, and letters of encouragement. Long drives in the country
offering counsel to a young friend on career, love, and family.
Shared tears at a setback and laughter at a success. Finishing a
champion when its young, but hopeful, owner couldn't afford to
travel to shows. Allowing a friend to take her pick of the
litter so that he might begin his own work with a good one.
Hugs, wisdom, and love...... These are but a few of the gifts
that I received from Donna. I love her for so many things and
can't help but feel that we have all lost something very
special. As a mentor, guide, "adopted godmother" and friend, I
wish everyone the luck to be taught and guided by someone like
Donna Dale. She is missed by me.
Although originally meant as a tribute to Donna and as a
condolence letter to Ben, the following piece of correspondence
offers an intimate portrait of a lady who considered herself to
be "the grandmother of all Skyes". It was written by one who
knew her well, her 14 1/2 month old granddaughter, "Gleanntan
Graceunderfire". Unfortunately, it was to be the last of a
series of letters that the two had enjoyed over a period of
Dear Grandmommy Dale,
Hel....loo...ooo! Can you hear me? Mommy says you have a new
email address. It is "heaven.com". But since I can't reach you
there, I'll try your old address. At least, for one last time.
Maybe, someone will forward your mail to you...wherever you are.
Mommy and Daddy say you have "passed on". I really don't know
what that means. I only know what they tell me it means. They
say I won't be able to see you again. Or to sit on your lap. Or
to lick your face again, ever! And that you have moved to a new
"Big House". I hope it's a big house! That means there will be
lots of Skyes in your new place. They will keep you company. I
want to visit you there, too, some day. But Mommy says, "NO!";
that I will have to be much older to visit you now. Of course,
what I want to know most is, "Why did you leave us?" If I had
licked you more, or loved you more, or played with you more,
would you have stayed? I will miss you, Grandmommy! I will miss
your smile and your lap and your laughter and your love. BTW, if
you should receive this letter, please know how much I loved
you. And if you are so close to my heart, Grandmommy, how can
you be so far away? Licks, Your little "Gracie" (a.k.a.
Donna was a classy lady with great intelligence, who could
magically and effortlessly produce a humor and a coolness that
transcended all parameters right in the midst of turmoil. Joe,
Peter and I will miss her presence, her moral strength, her
empathy, optimism and generosity always. Knowing her these past
30+ years was a gift. Her leaving has left a great void.
Eady, Joe, Leslie, Ken, Wendy and, of course, Peter
If memory serves me right, Joan and I would have met Ben and
Donna sometime in the mid to late '60s when I was showing Ch.
Gemini Sir Bruce and Ch. Cromlech Miss Muffin for the late Major
& Mrs. Leo J. Sullivan. At that time we ALL made the Cherry
Blossom Circuit, the Bucks County/Trenton, Westchester and
Montgomery weekends and so would see one another probably a half
dozen times a year. To be sure, we were all keen competitors and
all valued the quality of their own exhibits.
Probably one of my fondest memories of Donna was in the very
early '70s when she was judging The Skye Terrier National at the
sadly now defunct Associated Terriers Clubs Show (ATC) in New
York City on the day before Westminster. I had 10 year old
"Bruce" (Ch. Gemini Sire Bruce) entered in the Veterans class
and when I put him on the table, Donna having never met a Skye
that she did not love, said to the dog - "You've been a great
old man for this breed" and bent over and kissed the top of his
head. With my now near closed throat, due to the very large lump
in it, I squeezed out, "Donna don't do this to me," wiped my
eyes and proceeded to parade the full-dentitioned and heavily
coated "Bruce" the length of the ring to great applause. When I
returned Donna had tears running down her beaming face. It is a
picture that I have never forgotten. May God bless her, grant
Eternal Peace and let her walk in His garden among the Skyes
which have preceeded her. Rest in Peace Dear Lady.
The memories I have of Donna are endless. When I first met
her in 1980 I was in awe of her. Her warmth drew me to her
immediately. Little did I know then that she was teaching me
from the very beginning. I always loved showing my Skyes to her
because of her gentle touch and her unspoken words saying I Love
You to each Skye. As I write this with my two beautiful Skyes at
my feet I am reminded of the tremendous influence she had in my
life. Donna will live forever in my heart and her spirit lives
in all her gifted artwork and mementos that surround me in my
home. Perhaps James Taylor said it best - -
"I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days I thought would never end
I've seen lonely days when I could not find a friend
But I always thought I would see you again"