In Memory of Jo Anne Statler
May 16, 1930 – June 23, 2004
The Lionhead world lost a very special person, in the passing of Josephine Anne Statler, of Britt, Minnesota, at 8:30a.m.on June 23, 2004 at the age of 74. Jo Anne, as she was known to all of us, was at a rabbit show, surrounded by her many friends, and enjoying what she loved most ~ showing her rabbits.
Jo Anne loved animals and spent her early life showing champion Quarter Horses, where she had a keen eye for fitting and exhibiting. She was a judge for many stock shows, taught riding lessons, and exhibited sheep and dairy goats. She exhibited and judged dog obedience and showed Dachshunds. She began her rabbit showing with the Dutch and Netherland Dwarf breeds. She was a rabbit promoter in her local area, working to provide rabbits shows for the youth and was active in her county fair. She started, encouraged and shared her expertise with everyone interested, especially the youth.
While attending the famous Crufts Dog Show in England, in 2000, Jo Anne was shown a magazine with a Lionhead rabbit on the cover. She immediately made arrangements to have Lionheads shipped to her rabbitry upon her return. This was the beginning of the Lionhead breed in the United States. Jo Anne introduced America to this popular breed with the shipment of these original rabbits. She started many individuals throughout the country, in the adventure they would have with the little maned rabbits she so adored. A staunch supporter of the Lionheads, she looked to the future when ARBA would recognize them.
Jo Anne wanted to obtain a Certificate of Development and to get the Lionheads recognized by the ARBA, but several factors held her back, including her health. She made the decision that this task was too much of an undertaking to do alone. She would leave that up to others, but her love for this breed never ended and those who had the privilege of knowing Jo Anne were lucky to have seen her determination and fortitude in going forward to promote the Lionheads.
Jo Anne had no immediate family, other than her dear friend of 50 years, Jean Jasinsky, who she considered her sister and who shared in her passion of animals. She considered her huge circle of friends in the rabbit world her family and she was loved by everyone. She will be missed by many and we give her thanks for introducing the Lionhead to all of us. We now continue her passion to see them passed into breed status by ARBA.
In Jo Anne’s honor, her longtime friend, Jean Jasinsky, set up a traveling award that was presented to the North American Lionhead Rabbit Club, in 2005. The Statler Memorial Class consists of 4 animals from the same sire or dam and is judged at the Lionhead National Show each year. This prestigious plaque is awarded to the breeder who wins the class on overall consistency and quality of the 4 animals presented. Jo Anne will always be remembered as the first importer of this fancy little rabbit into the United States and the woman who started us all on this journey.