Hawley Laurell Downy was born in Gilmore City, IA, January 20, 1917. The tall, skinny 17 year old hitchhiker was offered a ride by Elbert Vary, a well-known all-breed handler (and judge). He offered Larry a job and thus a career was born. Larry later apprenticed under Tom Gately in New York and Sadie Edmiston in Omaha.
Larry met Boxers and the Wagner’s while working for Jimmie Sullivan in Chicago. Jimmie handled the Mazelaine Boxers including Utz. Sullivan had a heart attack and died. Larry was asked by Mrs. Sullivan to stay on and manage the kennel. He later adopted Jimmie’s motto, “I Handle to Win”. It was during this period that he handled Utz at Morris & Essex. Larry took his first GI with Utz in 1940. He handled several other Mazelaine Boxers including Volante and Overture before the war interrupted his career.
During World War II Private Downey was in the Army. He was stationed in Vernon, California and visited Dr. & Mrs. Harris while there. Eventually he was posted to the ETO and was stationed in Germany during 1945. He took this opportunity to visit Frau Stockmann and look for Boxers to take home with him. He liberated some chain link fence that became paddocks at the Stockmann farm on his time off and picked out a 4 month old puppy, Zack von Dom, which he kept with him on the base. He also acquired the two year old bitch, Sonne von Dom. Larry brought Zack, Sonne and Karlo back on the boat with him in 1945.
Post-war Germany was in ruins and food was scarce for people, much less dogs. Reichssieger ICH Karlo vd Wolfsschlucht (FD-46) had twice been the top German Sieger (prewar) and his owners doubtless felt he would have a better home in the US. Karlo was co-owned with the Wagner’s but spent most of his time with Audrey Harridge (Clinaude) later Dobyns. Karlo was considered by some to be “old-style” and they doubted that he would finish at 7 years of age. Larry finished him in three shows. Karlo sired 5 US champions, 2 for Mazelaine, one with a CDX, CH EJB’s Lalla’s Butch for client EJ Barrett and CH Clinaude’s Count VD Karlo (FD-51), who was BOS at ABC in 1952, for Audrey.
Larry hadn’t been home very long when he went BOB at ABC with Wild Deuces of Mazelaine (BB-46) from the classes in 1946. CH Zack von Dom S50 also finished quickly and eventually was the sire of 31 champions. He was Larry’s house dog and died shortly after he and Alice married in 1949. Zack’s son CH Spark Plug S57 sired 11 champions and was BOB at ABC in 1954 under JP Wagner and Gr I at Westminster KC the next day.
In 1955 he handled Barrage of Quality Hill, owned by the Greiners of Kansas City to BOB at ABC from the classes and Best American-Bred in Show at the Garden under Bob Waters. Other early-day clients included the Styers (Francis Abercrombie – Styercrest), and May-Will Boxers.
He handled for many well-known breeders including:
• Mr. & Mrs. William Rankins (Huck Hill)
• Mr. & Mrs. Ed Garich (Jered)
• Mary Jackson (Marjack)
• Mrs. Hazel Cowie’s Ch. Evo-Wen’s Impressario SOM was BOB in 1961 at ABC
• William Keeley (Billini) – future ABC President
• Lorraine Meyer (My-R) – future ABC Secretary
• new-comers Dr. & Mrs. EA McClintock’s Sarazan’s Syncopator (FD-63)
• M/M Phillip Toohey (later Pat Harrah, sister-in-law of June Harrah Lord)
• He specialed Phyllis King’s brindle dog CH Canzonet’s Musical Matinee S72 (BD-63)
• Shirley & Gayle Kriv (Hargayle)
• M/M Lloyd Branstetter and
• Wendy Ness (Carlwen)
In the 1960’s he became what some jokingly referred to as “Salgray West”. He handled the Hamilburg’s Ch. Marquam Hill’s Flamingo D63 (BB-61) to several BIS wins and when the “F” litter was born finished the bitches Fanfare and Flaming Ember. The Hamilburg’s did not want Flying High to compete with his brother so Fashion Plate came to Larry as a puppy and remained until shortly before his death at over 9 years. Fashion Plate was a very fiery, intense showman. Larry’s talent was to control this fire without extinguishing it. Fashion Plate was BOB at ABC in 1965 & 66, top winning Boxer and Group I at the Garden. His won the ABC Most BOB, Gr I and BIS awards for those years. The 1968 ABC Parade of Champions saw all six of the F litter together for a photo op.
Larry advised many breeders on what bitches to breed to the dogs at stud in his facility to produce their next champion and helped sort puppies. He was willing to talk to anyone and show them the dogs. One of these was Mike Millan who bred his Flying High daughter to Fashion Plate and got Fashion Hint (WD ABC68) whom Larry finished. Although Fashion Plate sired many champions he sired only one producer – ICH Millan’s Fashion Hint S71 LOM, sire of 12 Sires & Dams of Merit.
In 1967, with Fashion Plate retired, Salgray brought out a new puppy at ABC. Ambush (daughter Jane’s special Boxer) S71 LOM went Grand Futurity and BOB from the 9-12 class. He repeated the BOB win in 1968. Larry campaigned him extensively in the Midwest garnering many BIS and awards. CH Salgray’s Ambush S71 LOM attained Legion of Merit status with 7 Sires & Dams of Merit. Ch. Salgray’s Ovation S70 LOM was the next special for the Hamilburg’s.
Larry had a photographic memory when it came to Boxers. He could look at a Boxer and tell you the pedigree – having seen almost all of the greats of the breed from the beginning. He knew all of the judges and what to take to them. He and Jane Kamp had “magic hands” that they would run over a Boxer and it went from Backyard Bozo to Ch. Greatdog. He trained them to move with animation and with rubber balls (as did Nate Levine) to “look” and stop like they owned the ring (usually they did too). Larry handled many top Boxers and estimated that he had taken 90 of them to BIS. He had the BOB winner at ABC 9 times and won G I at Westminster KC three time. He received many awards including the Gaines Handler of the Year (52) and the Ken-L-Ration award twice (with Fashion Plate & Ovation).
Larry retired from handling in early 1971 and became a judge, doing ABC in 1972 where he gave CH Scher-Khoun’s Shadrack S72 LOM. BOS went to CH Regency’s Nite Life. He eventually had the Working and Sporting groups and about half of Hounds. He passed away in March 8, 1973 – a victim of cancer.
Alice and Larry joined ABC in 1956. Alice was a Life member and well-known Group judge in her own right. They operated a large kennel in Libertyville, Ill. for many years and were well known in Schnauzer circles as well. He also started the Dog Handlers Guild. Both Stan Flowers and Clay Cody worked for him when they were starting out.
The American Boxer Club’s Larry Downey Award was a bronze Boxer head medallion created by June Harrah Lord (sculptor of the Ideal Boxer for John Wagner). Pat Harrah had 25 of the medal cast and finished and gave them to the ABC for this award. The last one was given in 2001. The Board chose the recipient of this is a service award. The list of recipients is published in the front of the ABC catalog. The first recipient of the award was Alice Downey in 1979.
Alice Downey Obit
Alice Downey of Mundelein Funeral services for Alice Downey, 78, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, at Burnett-Dane Funeral Home, 120 W. Park Ave. (Route 176), Libertyville. Born Feb. 3, 1923, in Kansas City, Kan., she passed away Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002, at Northwood’s Care Center in Belvidere. Interment will be in Willow Lawn Memorial Park, Vernon Hills. Mrs. Downey had been a Libertyville-Mundelein resident for the past 50 years. She was a professional dog handler and dog show judge, and was the former owner of the Larry Downey Boarding Kennel in Libertyville. Surviving are her sister, Arbutus Solas of Kansas City, Mo.; and dear friend, Cindy Meyer of Belvidere. She was preceded in death by her husband, Larry, in 1978. Visitation will be from 5:30 p.m. until the time of services Friday, at the funeral home. Family and friends are invited to sign the guest book at dailyherald.com/obits. For information, (847)362-3009.
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Jan. 24, 2002
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