The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 27, 2009


Rachel Page Elliott

Writer, researcher and world authority on dogs

Rachel Page (Webster) Elliott, 96, passed away at River Road Farm in Carlisle on March 20, 2009, after a 16-month battle with cancer. “Pagey” was born on February 27, 1913, in Lexington, Massachusetts, to Hollis and Helen (Noyes) Webster. She grew up in a large family, the youngest of six children, surrounded by much beloved dogs and horses.

In 1935, she graduated from Radcliffe College (now Harvard University) and served as class president. Several years later, she met a young dentist in Boston, Dr. Mark Elliott. On September 9, 1939, they married at the Unitarian Church in Lexington. During World War II, Pagey and Mark moved several times with his service in the Army Air Force Dental Corps. After the war, they moved back to the Greater Boston area and bought the 1701 farm along the Concord River in Carlisle in 1946.

River Road Farm became the focus for Pagey and Mark as they raised three children, golden retrievers and Connemara ponies. The Elliotts established their Featherquest Kennel with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and raised more than 50 litters of golden retrievers over the next four decades. Success in the show ring and field trials prompted Pagey’s continuing curiosity about accurate dog breed standards and proper canine structure and movement. Her ground-breaking research into canine movement eventually led to a 30-year career as a researcher, author, videographer and international lecturer.

In 1973, she wrote and illustrated Dogsteps, a book on canine anatomy and movement. The following year, this book was recognized by the Dog Writers Association of America as the Best Dog Book of the Year. She was also honored in 1974 with the Gaines Award for Dog Woman of the Year. In 1983, an updated book, The New Dogsteps, highlighted her new research in bone and joint motion through the use of cineradiography (moving x-rays) at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Anatomy. She also made a Dogsteps video featuring over 70 different breeds and a DVD, Canine Cineradiography. A nationally and internationally popular lecturer, she became one of the world’s most widely respected authorities on canine structure and movement.

After retiring from the lecture circuit, Pagey focused on two new passions: dog agility training and cutting wooden jigsaw puzzles. She quickly learned to handle her dogs through a timed obstacle course. For the past 12 years, the local ARFF (Agility is Really Fun for Fido) Agility Club has conducted agility training in one of Pagey’s pastures. Thoroughly enjoying the fun and challenges, Pagey competed in agility events until she was 91 and even participated in an event for veteran dogs last summer.

From childhood, Pagey loved assembling wooden jigsaw puzzles. In 1988, she learned to cut them and started creating her own designs. Over the next 20 years, she cut over 1,500 puzzles for friends and family as well as for customers of Pagemark Puzzles. She generously offered her hand-cut puzzles to fundraising events such as auctions for the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue Association and WGBH Channel 2. In 2005, Pagey donated one of her puzzles for auction at the national meeting of the Golden Retriever Club of America in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The $27,000 winning bid for Pagey’s jigsaw puzzle is now recognized by the Guinness World Records as the highest price paid at a charitable auction for a hand-cut jigsaw puzzle.

Although her interests and talents gave her a worldwide network of friends, Pagey remained an active resident of Carlisle. In 1998, she received the Old Home Day Honored Citizen Award for her extensive work as an “active member of the community, helping form the structure, the activities and the character of the town.”

Reflecting on her rich, varied life, Pagey wrote her memoirs, From Hoofbeats to Dogsteps: A Life of Listening to and Learning from Animals. Her book was officially released at the Golden Retriever Club of America’s National Specialty in September 2008 to great acclaim. In February 2009, Pagey Elliott was inducted into the Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame, in New York City.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Dr. Mark Elliott, her parents, Hollis and Helen Webster; her brothers, Hollis Jr. and Albert; and her sisters, Priscilla, Fordham and Deborah.

She is survived by her daughters, Elizabeth (Maris) Platais of Carlisle and Ruth (Sidney) Holmes of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; son, Mark (Carol) Elliott, Jr, of Bozeman, Montana; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, her devoted companion Alberta White and many other loving friends.

A memorial service, “A Celebration of Her Golden Life,” will be held at 2 o’clock on Friday, March 27, 2009 at the First Parish Church in Concord.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rachel Page Elliott Educational Fund and sent to the Golden Retriever Foundation, P.O. Box 3462, Omaha, NE 68103 or to the charity of one’s choice. The fund was established in 2005 to honor Pagey Elliott’s lifelong work in the golden retriever community and to support the foundation’s educational mission. (

Arrangements are under the care of Charles W. Dee and Susan M. Dee, Funeral Directors, Dee Funeral Home of Concord. For online guest book visit


Astrid Kay Nigrovic

Murray and Kay Edelberg of Berry Corner Road joyfully announce the birth of their new granddaughter, Astrid Kay, born on March 12 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her proud parents are Peter and Lise (Edelberg) Nigrovic of Brookline. Astrid was welcomed home by Sophie and Ben (6) and Gabriel (3).

Heather Amy and Megan Elizabeth Ritz

Kara and John Ritz of Durham, Maine, are happy to announce the arrival of twin daughters, Heather Amy and Megan Elizabeth, born on March 6 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, Maine. Delighted grandparents and uncle are the Terry Ritz family of Orchard Acres Drive, Barbara Ritz of Groton, and Barbara and Bill Murphy of Plymouth.


• Alex Moskowitz of East Street, a Concord Academy sophomore, recently donated an original painting to Emmaus, Inc., a nonprofit in Haverhill dedicated to helping the homeless. His contribution was recognized at a recent ceremony. Alex’s decision to donate the painting was inspired by his participation in the Crossroads Foundation Youth in Philanthropy program, which teaches teens how to make philanthropic decisions.

• Carlisle Town Counsel Paul DeRensis has been appointed by Governor Deval Patrick as one of 32 officials from across the state to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Local Government Advisory Commission (LGAC). The LGAC meets regularly throughout the year with Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, and senior members of the administration to discuss issues facing cities and towns. Paul DeRensis and other LGAC members were administered the oath of office by Governor Deval Patrick personally on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 in his Executive Offices in the State House, Boston. Mr. DeRensis was recently elected a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and is serving as Town Counsel for Carlisle.

“I am honored by the opportunity to serve as a member of this important Commission, and will do my best to offer ideas and input to the Governor and his team that will help Carlisle and all of the communities of Massachusetts,” said Paul DeRensis.

• Jessica Li of Maple Street, a junior at CCHS, was one of 25 outstanding high school juniors chosen in an international leadership competition by Bentley University. The university has named 25 outstanding high school juniors to be the 2009 Bentley Tomorrow25. Chosen from hundreds of nominations from around the world, the winners will receive national recognition and interact with high-profile leaders on April 16 at the annual Bentley Leadership Forum.

Anthony (Tony) Mariano of Page Brook Road has been honored by the International Board of Mineralogy by having a new mineral, discovered by Mariano in the Prairie Lake region of Canada, named after him. The new mineral will be called Marianoite in recognition of his many contributions to the study of alkaline rocks and carbonatites.

Mariano, a well-known geologist, is the son of Italian immigrants. He received a Ph.D. in geology from Boston University, followed by a long distinguished career, enriched by his travels throughout the world. He has long been involved in Carlisle water issues.

Leslie Wagner of Kimball Road is shown in a rehearsal photo for her part as Mrs. Graves in the Quannapowitt Players production of Enchanted April. Performances of the play will be held April 3 to 18 at the QP Playhouse, 55 Hopkins Street, Reading, Massachusetts. For more information, visit the QP web page, or call 1-781-942-2212.

David Dawson of Autumn Lane was named to the Dean’s List at Brandeis University.

Lauren LaLiberte of Craigie Circle, a freshman at Northeastern University, has been named to the Dean’s List for the fall semester. Lauren is a student in the Bouve College of Health Sciences.

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito