Master National Icon Sallie P. Sullivan Dies

Sallie P. Sullivan, 86, of Thomasville, GA. was a former President, Handler of Year, of Master National Retriever Club

Sallie Sullivan, a name known to the entire Hunt Test community, passed away on the evening of December 19, 2023. She died peacefully surrounded by her family at her beloved Borderline Plantation. Sallie is survived by her daughter Kate Sullivan Scovil, son Tim (Wendy) Sullivan; grandchildren Megan (Brennan) Barker, Lexi Scovil, Emmett Scovil, Audrey (David Fullmer) Sullivan, Georgia Sullivan and May Sullivan; and great grandchildren Bria Barker and Charlie Fullmer. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Sallie was a charter member of The Master National Retriever Club and attended every Master National event since the beginning except one. She served on the MNRC Board of Directors for years and was President in 1999. Sallie bred, trained and handled her “Borderline” Retrievers for over 35 years. She began a long career in retrievers with her first lab, Cricket, in 1965, and continued competition and hunting through 14 generations. She was truly the Gold Standard of Excellence for our sport. Our deepest sympathies are extened to Sallie’s family and friends.

“The Master National Retriever Club expresses its condolences on the loss of former MNRC President Sallie Sullivan. Sallie’s dogs were her life. She trained and handled her dogs until recently when health issues sidelined her participation. Even when she was unable to handle her dogs, she was on the sidelines when she could make it, cheering them on under the direction of others. Most weekends throughout the South during winter and in Wisconsin in the summer, you could find Sallie entered and handling her dogs at the AKC hunt tests. Her goal was to keep up the training and qualify them for the national hunt test events. Sallie will be greatly missed by the Master National Retriever Club along with the rest of the hunt test community.”
Keith Kiesow, President Master National Retriever Club

“Like so many others, Sallie Sullivan was instrumental in bringing me into the Hunt Test world and into the Master National Retriever Club.  As a founding member of the Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club, and since 1992, Sallie hosted AKC Hunt Tests at her Borderline Plantation and the Training Pond became the focal point for all THRC training days. Her generosity to the hunt test community is unparalleled. I owe so much to Sallie, and will be forever grateful to her. I can’t put into words how much her presence will be missed by so many in our community. Over the years, I trained with Sallie and judged with her and learned what this game was all about. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family.”
Sam Ferguson, President, Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club.

“Sallie was a pioneer of the retriever hunt test sport. Sallie’s support and encouragement of amateur handlers, along with her generosity sharing her land for training and testing, have been instrumental in the success of many. Over the years, Sallie has been a mentor and role model for women handling their own dogs. Her legacy lives on in her beloved Labradors and the many people she has touched.”
Fred Nusbickel, President Master Amateur Retriever Club

“Sallie Sullivan was a remarkable woman her entire life.  In the Retriever Hunting Test Program she was an institution and will be missed by all of us.  Her dedication to our sport and all dogs was unquestionable.   We at the American Kennel Club give her the upmost credit for her contribution to our sport and the dogs she loved.  She will be missed by all of us.”
Doug Ljungren  Executive VP, Sports & Events
Caroline Murphy  Director, Performance Events
Russ Reavis  Field Director,  Retrievers

In 2019, Sallie was selected by the Master National Retriever Club Foundation as the recipient of the “Bill T. Teague Handler of the Year.” She became the first woman to earn the prestigious Handler of the Year award. Over 150 family, friends, and hunting retriever enthusiasts watched Sullivan received her award Saturday (March 7) at a Special Tailgate Celebration following the Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club Hunt Test in Thomasville.

Sallie has placed nine dogs in the Master National Retriever Club’s (MNRC) Hall of Fame. Her labs have over 1,000 qualifications at AKC Hunt Tests.

Sallie’s accomplishments in the AKC hunt test sport over the last 35 years will likely never be bested.  Every dog she has competed with has been her own Borderline breeding. She holds an astonishing 50 Master National event Plates, the most held by an Amateur Handler, and seven Master Amateur Crystal Plates as well as two Master Amateur Invitational Hall of Fame retrievers.

In 2003, Sallie hosted the Master National event at Borderline Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia. In addition to her success at the Master National event each year, Sullivan is an active member and past president of the Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club.

In addition to representing the highest standards in training and testing, Sullivan has bred Labrador retrievers for over 35 years, and holds the highest standards for furthering the Labrador retriever breed. She has bred ten Master National Hunter (MNH) AKC titled retrievers and 2 AKC Master Amateur Hunter retrievers.

She was also the first woman to receive the Master National Retriever Woman’s Challenge Trophy. She has won top honors at the 2019 Georgia/Florida Plantation Challenge.  An honor she has received several times.

In 2013, the Bird Dog Foundation, Inc., in Grand Junction, Tennessee also honored Sallie at the Field Trial Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in Sallie’s memory can be made to Tall Timbers Research Station or the Thomasville Humane Society. View Obiturary Allen & Allen Funeral Home

An icon of the sport, Sallie exemplifies what we are about. She will be truly missed by all.

First ever Master National Qualifiers. Sallie is bottom row 4th from the right.
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