Dennis James Graham, age 55, died at home on Sunday morning 2 April 2006 surrounded by his partner of more than twenty years, Rob Bell, two of his beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and several friends.
Dennis, son of Dorothy Freeman Graham and Walter L. Graham, was born 13 August 1950 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended elementary and high school in Tipton. He studied two years at Muscatine Community College, and later attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City.For more than thirty years Dennis was in Fine Jewelry sales both in Iowa City & in San Francisco, where he moved in 1977. He worked for Ginsberg Jewelers, Sidney Mobell, Gump’s, Neiman-Marcus, Tiffany’s & finally Lang’s Estate Jewelry.
Dennis was a member and active participant at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. He served on the Congregation Council, Board of Trustees, Fabric Committee, Vocations Committee, was chair of the Stewardship Committee, convener of the Men of Grace, coordinator of the Lay Eucharist Ministry, and co-founder and Prior of the Canterbury Way—a lay Benedictine Community at the Cathedral. In addition he participated for more than fifteen years in the Benedictine Experience week at the Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, California. Dennis was an Oblate of New Camaldoli Monastery at Big Sur, California.
He was a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of San Francisco, the Order of Elks, Cavaliers of the West, and a supporter of Save Venice, Inc.
Dennis Graham was a man of many passions and interests ranging from bicycling, swimming, his Fiat Spyder, cigars, gardening, David Austin roses, garden fauns, carp, gourmet cooking, risotto asparagi, rack of lamb, Peter Rabbit, Scottish country dancing, chess, astronomy, oriental rugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Nell, India Pudding, progressive politics & economics, Paul Krugman, Molly Ivins, flags, literature, liturgical music, Vivaldi, Handel, J.S. Bach ’Cello Suites, theatre, ballet, & travel—most especially to Venezia – with his beloved Robbie. He lived his life with purpose, zest, humor, & exuberance.
Dennis died of complications from acquired immune deficiency syndrome. He was very grateful to Dr. Walford J. Fessel, his Kaiser physician for more than fifteen years, and to the Kaiser Home Hospice Program. He is survived by his partner Rob Bell, sister Christine Anderson, brother-in-law Larry Anderson of San Antonio, Texas, nephew James T. Anderson, niece Elizabeth Rose Anderson, his step-mother Evelyn Graham of Clarence, Iowa, and numerous step-relations, and Bell family in-laws. A Requiem Eucharist was celebrated at Grace Cathedral on 22 April 2006. Gifts in his memory may be made to Kaiser Hospice, Cavalier Rescue, Grace Cathedral Gardening Fund, or Save Venice, Inc.
Only after Dennis died, did I figure out the probable origin of his interest in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, particularly Blenheims. (He had been a member of the Cavalier Club for several years even before owning a dog.) Watching a DVD of the First Churchill’s, I learned that the Battle of Blenheim was fought in 1704 on August 13th – Dennis’ birthday!
For many centuries, small breeds of spaniels have been popular in the United Kingdom. Some centuries later, Toy Spaniels became popular as pets, especially as pets of the royal family. In fact, the King Charles Spaniel was so named because a Blenheim-coated spaniel was the children's pet in the household of Charles I. Such spaniels can be seen in many paintings of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. These early spaniels had longer, pointier snouts and thinner-boned limbs than today's.
Over time, the toy spaniels were replaced in popularity by short-snouted, dome-headed dogs of Asian descent, such as the Pug and Japanese Chin. The King Charles Spaniel was bred with these dogs, resulting in the similar-shaped head of today's English Toy Spaniel breed. The King Charles Spaniel remained popular at Blenheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, where the brown and white version was the most popular - resulting in the name Blenheim for that colour combination.
In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge offered twenty-five pounds as a prize for any King Charles Spaniel "of the old-fashioned type" with a longer nose, flat skull, and a lozenge (spot) in the middle of the crown of the head, sometimes called "the kiss of Buddha," "Blenheim Spot," "lozenge" or "Kissing Spot". So, the breed was developed by selective breeding of short-snouted Spaniels. The result was a dog that resembled the boyhood pet of Charles II of England ("Cavalier King Charles"), hence the name of the breed.
Images & Text:wikipedia.com
Today is also the birthday of Sylvie Prost Bell, my nephew Sheridan's wife. It is so wonderful to have her as part of the family! Sylvie and Sheridan brought me my new Blenheim puppy, Renzo, two years ago last June. Sheridan said it was good that they brought him when they did, because after having Renzo several days at their apartment in New York City, Sylvie wasn't sure she wanted to part with him. They now have a four story brick and brownstone townhouse in Jersey City, New Jersey. Sheridan brought Renzo's beautiful Blenheim mom, Bette, last December.
Joyeux anniversaire, Sylvie!