Memorials

Memorials are a special way to honor the special bond that many of our members have shared with their Springers and with ESRA. Families often encourage gifts to ESRA in their loved one's memory. The family will be notified of each contribution as marked on the donation form.

Marie Devaney Conyers

February 9, 1951 – December 21, 2021

ESRA shares, with great sadness, the passing of a wonderful woman and friend, Marie Devaney Conyers of Magnolia, Texas.

Marie had been a long-time member of ESRA and one of its original volunteers. Sharing friendships with Jan Flagg, Judy Manley and others who were instrumental in the development of English Springer Rescue America, Inc., Marie volunteered much of her time and dedication to the Springer breed for close to 20 years, until she was afflicted with a terminal illness the last couple of years of her life.

Having fostered many English Springer Spaniels for ESRA and Australian Shephards for another rescue, Marie developed a passion for training dogs, and made it her mission to learn as much as possible about professional dog training. She studied the profession for many years and opened her own business, The Fundamental Dog, in 2007. Through the years, she had assisted hundreds of clients and friends with the knowledge she had gained as a trainer, and was always willing to share helpful tips and advice to better enhance the lives of the canines her associates came to love. Marie’s vision is still ever-present in the continuation of her business today.

We extend our deepest sympathy to her loving family, including husband J.C. Conyers, daughters Stephanie Morrison and V.C. Devaney, several siblings, and countless rescue friends and associates in the canine training community. Marie’s passing has left a huge hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved her, and we are honored to share this tribute to her life.

At the family’s request, donations in Marie’s memory may be made to English Springer Rescue America, Inc.

You may make a gift to ESRA in Marie Devaney Conyer's memory using our
online donation form.

Martin Kvidera

December 30, 1949 – November 28, 2020

ESRA is saddened to learn of the passing of a very special friend – Martin “Marty” Kvidera.

Martin was born on a farm in central Iowa. His love for animals came early on for him. His parents, Roy and Betty, raised purebred German shepherds, and through the years of raising and loving those puppies and then the adult dogs, Martin knew he would need the love and companionship of a dog in his life. Of course, college came first. He was a graduate with honors from the University of Northern Iowa, and he later received an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

While working for the state of Minnesota, Martin was able to purchase his first home. The next most important purchase was that of his best friend, an English Springer Spaniel puppy named Tucker. Martin loved everything about Tucker, and together they made their house a home. They enjoyed playtime, walks in the neighborhood, time at the dog park, and, of course, road trips to Iowa to see family and friends.

Martin and Tucker shared a very special bond and enjoyed many good years together, but when his friend passed away, Martin was devastated. After the sadness began to ease, he knew he needed another new “best friend,” so the search began for his next Springer. He loved the loyalty, friendliness, and unconditional love and devotion that this breed of dog gives. In the years that followed, Martin rescued two more English Springer Spaniels, Toby and Bo. His dogs were his family, and he loved each one with all his heart. Prior to his passing, Martin made his wishes known that he wanted to be buried with the cremains of Tucker, Toby, and Bo. A dear friend adopted his most recent companion, Beau.

Martin was very generous throughout his life, and he believed that all animals were deserving of a chance at a good life and a happy home. With his passing, he provided generous funds for three charities: The Nature Conservancy of Minnesota, Safe Hands Animal Rescue of Minneapolis, and English Springer Rescue America, Inc. (ESRA). ESRA is grateful for this very generous bequest to help with the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of Marty’s favorite breed, the English Springer Spaniel.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Martin’s family -- his mother Betty, his sister Paula (Bob) Goecke, his brother, Mike (Jan) Kvidera, his niece, Lynn Goecke, his nephew, Craig Goecke, and his uncle Lester (Vicky) Taylor.

You may make a gift to ESRA in Martin Kvidera's memory using our
online donation form.

William J. (Bill) Sterling

December 19, 1943 – October 24, 2021

The rescue community mourns the loss of a dear friend and rescue volunteer, Bill Sterling. Bill leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth (Gay) Sterling, daughter Tina, step-daughter Summer (and her husband, Brad), and granddaughter Everly along with Bill’s extended family.

Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, Bill served as a police officer there in the motorcycle division. He had met Gay in high school as a young teen, and they reconnected many years later. They were wed in 1988. Eventually, the couple set off on their adventure together out West, where they took up residence in San Jacinto, California, living there for almost 20 years.

Bill and Gay have been pillars of the rescue community in their Southern California home for over 16 years. They have fostered 136 dogs, including two sets of puppies (three in each litter) and eight sets of bonded pairs. Oh, how they loved fostering! They continued to do this vital work until just a few years ago, when Bill’s health started to decline. Through the years, Bill also conducted hundreds of adoption interviews, and he loved talking to the people who were interested in adopting his and Gay’s fosters. He wanted nothing but the best for each of these dogs, and he felt that by participating in the interview process, he would really get to know the applicants. He could then make the best match possible for “his” pups. Bill stayed in touch with many of his adopters over the years, checking to make sure that all was well with the dogs and their families. He was also an effective fundraiser for ESRA, bringing in many generous donations which helped to secure the welfare of generations of dogs.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Bill’s loving wife and his entire family. We also share our sincere gratitude for all that Bill and Gay have done to help ESRA and so many dogs in need. Without a doubt, they have not only touched the lives of their fosters but also the lives of all the families that they have selected along the way to provide loving, caring homes for all of these special Springers.

You may make a gift to ESRA in Bill Sterling's memory using our
online donation form.

Michael Douglas Via, Sr.

July 25, 1956 – October 3, 2020

ESRA is very sorry to share the passing of Michael Douglas Via, Sr. Michael was very well-known to the rescue community in the Midwest and particularly in Michigan, having served this organization for over 15 years with his wife of 40 years, Geralyn (Geri).

As a volunteer, Michael, along with Geri, fostered many Springers of various ages and temperament. Three of them never left their sides, as they formally adopted Special Needs dogs Quinn, Buddy and Brady. There were many more that barely made it to adoption, because Michael had such a soft spot for many of them and wanted to adopt even more! His wife Geri reports that her kind-hearted husband was her “weak link” when it came to fostering. He loved spoiling all of them and enjoyed having them spend time on the couch with him watching sports and dishing out tasty treats. In addition to fostering, the Vias have done many long-distance transports and even helped to whelp a litter of seven puppies that were born to a foster Springer under their care.

As a member of the Ortonville, Michigan, community, Michael was a Program Sales Manager with Toyoda Gosei. One of his true passions, however, was that of portraying Santa Claus. At the time of his passing, Michael had been attending Santa School in Frankenmuth, Mich. A University of Virginia Alumnus and an announcer for the Brandon Blackhawks Football team, he was also a former coach of BGO soccer and T-ball.

Michael’s sudden passing has come as a shock to all who have known and loved this special man who was so very generous with his time and his heart.

Michael is survived by his wife, Geralyn, children Christina and Michael (Theresa), father Marvin Lee, sister Vicki and brothers Timothy and Dennis. The family has shared that memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or English Springer Rescue America, Inc.

You may make a gift to ESRA in Michael Via's memory using our
online donation form.
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