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Obituary - Chester (Chet) F. Collier


Chester F. Collier won seven Emmys and helped build Fox News into a world media power during a lifetime in television production, but he will also be well-remembered as the man who made the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show into the world's most famous dog show, with millions of viewers on live television and the Internet, a sold-out Madison Square Garden, and worldwide media attention.

Mr. Collier died on Wednesday, August 15 at his home in Wellington, FL, from complications of diabetes. He was 80.

"Chet's knowledge of the sport and his television background created a vision that helped to enhance and grow a unique event that continues to be the very best our sport has to offer," said Westminster President Peter R. Van Brunt. "He will live on in this wonderful legacy he has left for the club, its members, the sport, and the dog-loving public."

This past February, Mr. Collier, past president (1989-2001), show chairman (1978-1989) and longtime member (since 1973) of the Westminster Kennel Club, was honored as the first recipient of the club's Sensation Award, in recognition of his contribution to the club, to purebred dogs, and the sport of showing dogs.

"No individual in modern times has had a more positive influence on our sport than Chet Collier," said Westminster Show Chairman Thomas H. Bradley, 3d. "He single-handedly created live televised dog shows, embodied by his very own world-famous Westminster. Because of him, millions of people share in this annual celebration of the dog in our lives.

"Fortunately, he has left behind a number of protégées to carry on his vision. All of us at Westminster and indeed, all of us in the sport of dogs, are most sincerely in his debt."

A native of Boston, Mr. Collier became involved with purebred dogs in the 1960s, showing Bouviers des Flandres and enjoying great competitive success, with more than 50 Bests In Show. In addition to his Westminster roles, he served as an AKC delegate for a number of years and sat on the AKC's board of directors from 1986 to 1990. "His influence, wisdom and devotion to the sport are without comparison and many of the modern, positive changes at AKC can be traced directly to Chet Collier," said Dog News in 2000.

That was the year that Westminster accorded him the honor of judging Best In Show. He was also a past president of the American Bouvier des Flandres Club, and a member of the Westchester Kennel Club and Eastern Dog Club.

Mr. Collier is survived by his wife, Dorothy; three children: Ruth, Greg and Rich; and three grandchildren.