Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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john dean.jim grahamHuntsman John Dean and the foxhounds of the Radnor Hunt   /  Jim Graham photo

John Howard Dean, III, huntsman of the Radnor Hunt (PA), died in Paoli Hospital on January 16, 2021. He was hospitalized fighting Covid-19 along with other issues over a period of weeks. According to the Masters’ announcement made the day following his death, John appeared at one point to be on the mend but his condition reversed.

The Masters went on to describe John as a “gregarious giant of a man who knew how to make sure everyone had a good time. He was just as comfortable talking to a group of Booster Club subscribers about hound conformation as he was chewing the fat with the farmer following hounds in his pick-up....All of us at Radnor are extremely grateful for John’s devotion to the hunt and we continue to be thankful for his son, James, who has continued to do double duty during John’s illness [hunting the Radnor hounds]. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Dean family. John Dean was fifty-five years old. He will be sorely missed.”

An obituary published on Facebook says John “loved riding horseback, dogs, fast cars, and fat cigars....John lived his fifty-five years on this earth to the fullest. He was made with just the right twist of charisma, jokes and wisdom. As much as he was jovial and carefree he had an uncanny ability to stir the desire to learn in others. Whether he was in the stables or speaking to a large crowd he could win you over with conversation.”

“John was an outdoorsman all his life. He could tell you six generations of any dog’s pedigree. John was the founder of Back Creek Beagles and Earleville Hounds. He loved trips to Maine with his uncle who was his best friend since childhood, Jeff Dean Sr. They ran the back roads of Pennsylvania together ripping the pavement in their souped-up classics. His nineteen-point buck was a favorite conversation piece. If it had fur or feathers he enjoyed the hunt. He loved an Italian Village hoagie and hated tight spaces. If you couldn’t find him outdoors he could be found lying in his bed watching Chicago PD. John was a loving man with a heart of gold, who enjoyed the simple things in life. He spent the last seven years continuing the family tradition of foxhunting—a third generation huntsman at Radnor.”

John Dean was well known to veteran foxhunters in Pennsylvania. Though he moved to Missouri where he hunted coyotes for seven years, he returned to Pennsylvania to whip-in to his father (also John) at Radnor for two seasons.

In 2013, the horn passed from father to son. On Radnor’s Opening Day of that season, Saturday, November 2nd, after a stirrup cup accompanied by the music of bagpipers, Radnor's new huntsman John Dean, III, took his pack of 15-1/2 couple of American foxhounds and led a field of fifty-six riders and a horde of car-followers to the first covert.

“Foxes were plentiful,” wrote Collin McNeil, MFH. “John Dean’s hounds accounted themselves well with one big, red Charlie speeding past the second field within just a yard or so.”

The customary hunt breakfast was held later at the clubhouse, where the  new huntsman was toasted and the day’s stories shared. John had seven sucessful seasons with Radnor from that time.

“John was a great, garrulous fellow who never met anyone that he didn’t like,” said McNeil. “He loved his Radnor family and they loved him. He was a genius with his hounds, always seeming to know where to make the right cast and always picking the best attributes to breed into the pack.”

Similar tributes were written on Facebook by those who knew him. “Amazing and kind man. Always a smile on his face.”

“Always offering a smile and a good belly laugh.”

“A kind, wonderful man who will not be forgotten!”

John’s service will be held tomorrow, Saturday January 23, 2021 at the Maclean-Chamberlain Funeral Home, Coatesville, PA, at 4:00 pm. Visitation will be from 3:00 pm until the service. Interment will be private.

Posted January 22, 2021

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