Big Daddy

Stuart Jones left us October 14, 2015. Born in Richmond in 1931, he graduated from Glen Allen High School and served in the Navy during the Korean War. After that he attended the University of Virginia, made the Dean’s list and improved all the many clubs of which he was a member. This experience inculcated in him a great fondness for UVA sports. Football, however, usually let him down.

Those of us at Oak Ridge who hunted with him over the decades often heard about the latest defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory.

Few who saw him in the field would believe that he didn’t take up riding until his sixties. He found Karen Osborne who worked with him and it didn’t take Stuart long to find his way to the hunt field. It helped that he was a natural athlete and not given to excessive fear. Of course, there were times when he put the fear of God in us.

His service in the Navy, he really did see the world, either gave him or brought out in him a flexibility, a curiosity about other cultures. Stuart could work with anyone. He listened and he was respectful of differences. He was a man who learned from life and we were all the better for it.

He was a lifetime member of the Sons of the American Revolution, as was my father and we would often talk about history, what our forefathers and foremothers in endured, built and hoped for, and perhaps we represented their hopes. We had a lot to live up to and he did.

Boy Scout, Stuart’s horse, had his number. Early on, when these two were getting acquainted, Boy Scout stopped, refusing to move. This irritated Big Daddy who expanded his vocabulary of abuse. The field moved on and there was Stuart trying every way to move Boy Scout forward. No sooner was everyone out of view than Boy Scout, ears pricked up, watched as a healthy red fox emerged from the woods, trotted across the pasture, walked, no trotting, walked in front of Stuart and his horse. Stuart had to admit that Boy Scout knew more than he did and an accord was reached. Lavish offerings of apples and carrots cemented this accord. Boy Scout loved Big Daddy.

Mustard also loved him. Mustard was born in 2013 by Archie out of Moxy. Slight, mustard colored, she’d come out for her walks, see Stuart and run in wild circles until she calmed down. He had to praise her then she would behave herself. Stuart walked and worked hounds with me for years. Emily Schilling, Maria Johnson, Mary Shriver, John Morris, Toot Morris, along with Sonia Johnson, worked puppies and hounds in the off-season. We work harder in the off-season than actual hunting. If I’ve forgotten one of our regulars forgive me.

He loved hounds and they returned the affection but Mustard was just besotted with him. He’d also walk and hunt the bassets with me on foot, enjoying the music from those deep voices.

As years flew by, his whipping-in finally landed him at the utmost perimeter. He didn’t feel he could run full out, plus Boy Scout was so good at knowing where the fox was, he viewed more than if he was flying along. During the last year of his life, he became a wheel whipper-in where he, John and Toot could watch, listen, and delight in tormenting one another.

He didn’t want to leave us. Stuart loved life and would have lived to two hundred, if there was a way.

Our relationship grew over the years. He never could resist teasing me over feminism. I would return the favor. Back and forth, how we would laugh. His good humor touched us all and you really could talk to this wonderful man about anything and everything. Much as he teased me and vice versa, Stuart gave me and everyone else a fair hearing.

As he began to fail, I would call him after the hunts to give a full report. Not long before he died I called, he still had his voice, and told him Mustard had been naughty.

“Well, what are you going to do about it?” He wanted to know.

“Blame you.” I fired back.

That essentially encapsulates our friendship: devilment, laughter, a lot of love.

Oak Ridge is especially grateful to Karen, Pete, Hayley, and Lindsay Osborne for their kindness to Stuart. Karen would carry him to appointments; pick up what he and Cushman (his wife) needed with the assistance of her family.

At the very end, Karen recalled to Stuart a glorious hunt they had been on in prior years and it made him happy.

He asked that donations be made to the hounds in his honor. When staff heard of this final wish, it was difficult not to just fall apart.

As one should, I told Boy Scout that Big Daddy was gone. He dropped his head, put his forehead on mine and we stood that way for a bit.

Then I told Mustard. Sweet little thing, it took her over a month to come back to herself. She’d get off the trailer and look for Big Daddy.

Anyone who thinks we anthropomorphize animal emotions doesn’t live with them. They know and they loved him as did we all.

I am sorry it took me so long to write this. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

 

Rita Mae Brown, MFH

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