Letter to the Editor: Remembering Josephine Abercrombie

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Josephine Abercrombie | Coady

DR. E.C. 'PUG' HART

When Clifford [Barry]'s number flashed on my screen [Wednesday] I had a gut wrenching feeling because I knew why he was calling. We both lamented that Mrs. A was in a better place and how it was “time.” She was one of a kind, a true horse woman, a philanthropist and all the other superlatives people will be mentioning. But for those of us who were fortunate enough to really know Mrs. A, there has never been, and I doubt there ever will be another one like her. When I listened to Terence Collier talk of her accomplishments at the Pin Oak dispersal last fall, I thought of all the stories I would like to share about Mrs. A, but that would take days and some of them aren't exactly appropriate for this publication.

The first time I met Mrs. A, she and her entourage came to Ocala to buy a stallion that we owned. After a few volleys back and forth with offers, she turned and said “aren't you from Texas?” I replied, “yes, M'am” and she said, “let's go in your office and cut this deal.” In less than five minutes we came out and she bought her first stallion Caller I.D. from me and that was done on a handshake. We sold her another stallion and she had fun with it and then said she wanted a good horse if I ever saw one. A year later I called about a horse I was managing for my longtime owner Morton Rosenthal. She and Clifford flew to Florida and once again–on a handshake–she bought Maria's Mon.

But more enjoyable are the Josephine stories that she loved to share when we got together. Here are just a few:

The time she left her dear friend on the tarmac because he was five minutes late to the plane to go to a dog show. He was running towards the plane and she instructed her pilot to take off as she waved to him. Every time we got together after hearing that story, we made sure we were 15 minutes early to any meeting with Mrs. A.

Then there's the one she enjoyed telling a story about how she was a much better skier than her instructor, but she always followed him down the slopes because she enjoyed the view.

And the tales of her travels all over the world were fascinating to hear. She once offended someone at a dinner party in a foreign country and her father sent the plane to pick her up the next morning. But that was Mrs. A, she was truly a lady, but she did it her way as Frank Sinatra would say (but that's another Mrs. A story better told by her than me).

Then there were all the Thanksgiving dinners in Virginia, the birthday parties in Kentucky and Ocala and all the memories of our visits to Pin Oak.

When Maria's Mon died, we sent Mrs. A ,and Clifford each a champagne flute and I still have her letter thanking me and suggesting that every New Year's Eve we would make a toast to Maria's Mon. Just the other evening we got out the flutes, but this time we raised our glasses to Mrs. A, and to Maria's Mon.

She used to ask me to stop addressing her as Mrs. A ,and just call her Josephine and I would almost always respond, “yes, Mrs. A” and we would laugh.

The last time I walked her up those long winding stairs after a dinner outing, I wondered how many more times I would be in her company.

Susie and I will always be grateful to Mrs. A, and we'll get out those Moët & Chandon flutes again and toast a very special lady.

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