It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of three great foxhunters: Carol Easter, MFH, Farmington Hunt (VA); Tommy Jackson, MFH and former huntsman, Mission Valley Hunt Club (KS); and Fred Cockerill, former longtime huntsman, Red Mountain (NC). All were examples of the best of our sport.
Carol Easter passed away November 3rd. She participated in many equestrian disciplines, including showing, foxhunting, and distance riding. She was Master at Farmington Hunt from 1995 until her death, and had served as MFHA District Director for Virginia from 2006-2012. She also served as president of the Virginia Trail Riders Association for more than 20 years, having won 50 and 100 mile rides and tirelessly promoted their events.
Patients at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville enjoyed visits from Carol and her genial Labrador Retrievers, certified as therapy dogs. She is universally remembered as "always smiling" and welcoming to every member and guest, mounted or on foot, at the meet. A memorial service and reception in her honor will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, December 19, 2015, at the Easters' Springhaven Farm just outside Charlottesville.
In lieu of flowers, the Easter family has requested donations to the Hunt Staff Benefit Foundation.
No professional huntsmen gave more of himself to the sport than Tommy Jackson, who died Oct. 21st. No one had more influence or success in mentoring new huntsmen and improving the overall quality of hunting hounds in the Midwest. He set an example for all of us.
The following tribute to Fred Cockerill was submitted by Peter Howe, ex-huntsman at Red Mountain Hounds:
Fred Cockerill, 95, died October 29, 2015 at his home in Bahama, North Carolina. He was former huntsman and still an avid follower of Red Mountain Hounds.
Fred (known to all as Mr. Fred) was born 200 yards from the old Goathland Kennels in North Yorkshire. As a young boy, Fred spent all the time he could get away from school at the kennels running terriers, etc.
His brother Tom was whipper-in there at the time. Tom went on to become huntsman/kennel huntsman to the Dumfriesshire Foxhounds. On leaving school at 14, Fred was taken on as kennel boy at the Staintondale. He sometimes rode second horse for the huntsman. He then went with the Master to the Ludlow as second whip and also worked in stables under a great stud groom, Harry Evans. He did one last season as single handed whip to the Wheatland, before war broke out.
Fred served in the RAF for the duration of World War II. Colour blindness kept him on the ground as Ground Crew. After Fred was de-mobbed in 1946, he went to the Four Barrow in Cornwall, where he found the stone faced banks quite an experience and challenge. From there he went to the Cattistock, where he whipped in two days a week to the Master and two days to the huntsman. He always said it was a tough country, and as the Master would not have a motor vehicle on the premises, twelve to fourteen mile hacks to the meets were not uncommon.
After the Cattistock, Fred went to the Chiddingford & Leconfield where he whipped in to the great huntsman, Ted Vickers. He was then made huntsman to the Southdown. There he had a staff of eight, four in kennels and four in stables. He said it was a well foxed country, especially on the Downs. With the main roads and electric railways, it was becoming a headache for a huntsman.
In 1967, Fred moved to the USA as huntsman to the Triangle Hunt in North Carolina. The hunt was a drag hunt but changed to live hunting then. After some Master changes, Fred was appointed as the first huntsman to the newly formed Red Mountain Hunt in 1969. He remained in this post until his retirement in 1990 at the age of 70. This was not the end for Fred, as he acted as Road Whip for the Red Mountain until just last season. His little grey Mazda pickup truck was a familiar sight on hunting days around the hunt country.