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The Chronicle of the Horse - In the Country

Erskine Lott Bedford, the popular and respected jt.-MFH of the Piedmont Fox Hounds (Va.), died of head injuries on Dec. 6 after his horse collapsed beneath him on a run. He was 65.

Although Mr. Bedford was a stockbroker and farmer, his life's passion was foxhunting. He joined the late Mrs. A.C. Randolph as joint master in 1979, and many regarded him as one of the finest fieldmasters in the world. "He had a wonderful sense of the country and what was going on with hounds," said Gail Wofford, a former Piedmont jt.-MFH. "He was a gentleman, he was kind, he was a mentor to children. Everyone loved him."

Mr. Bedford majored in agricultural science at Cornell University (N.Y.), and in 1961 he purchased the 385-acre "Old Welbourne," near Bluemont, Virginia. He was twice named Farmer of the Year in Loudoun County.

Mr. Bedford was a former treasurer of the U.S. Combined Training Association, a co-trustee for the Glenwood Park race course, and a trustee of Morven Park, where he helped found the Museum of Hounds and Hunting. He was also a life member of the U.S. Pony Clubs, which his parents, Dean and Louise Bedford, had co-founded, and a board member of many local farming and conservation organizations.

Daughter Cricket Whitner, of Bluemont, Va., said her father was intimately familiar with Piedmont's 85,000-acre territory. "You could have dropped him blindfolded out of a plane in Piedmont country, and in 15 seconds he could identify every panel, every hole, every gate, every covert," she said.

Mr. Bedford took pains to spend time with landowners, counseling them on farming practices and urging them to keep their land productive and open. He was always ready to scoop up a piece of trash or a rock, build a coop, lower a fence rail, settle the field with a joke, offer a discourse on the Civil War history of the land over which they were hunting, or to simply exclaim over its beauty.

Whitner said her father's 16-year-old Thoroughbred suffered an aneurysm and was dead within seconds. A rider in the field summoned an ambulance with a cellular phone, and he was evacuated by medical helicopter. He died that evening without regaining consciousness.

"In many ways, we couldn't have written a better ending. He went down doing what he loved," said Whitner.

He was buried in the family cemetery at Old Welbourne on Dec. 10. Andrew Barclay, huntsman of the Green Spring Valley Hounds (Md.), blew "gone away" as Randy Waterman, Piedmont's jt.-MFH and huntsman, and the Piedmont hounds paraded past the graveyard in silence and then galloped over the hill in full cry.

In addition to Whitner, Mr. Bedford is survived by his children: Lily L. Raines of Baltimore; Daphne Wooten of Camden, S.C.; and Dean E. Bedford of Charlottesville, Va.; brother Dean Bedford Jr. of Metamora, Mich.; sister Daphne Dennehy of Lake Forest, Ill.; and partner Karen Ewbank and her daughters, Charlotte and Maureen.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Glenwood Park Trust or the Piedmont Fox Hounds.

D.F. & P.W.

© Copyright 1998 The Chronicle of the Horse