Club History

Sightmasters Guide Dog Club was formed in September 1980 through Washington County 4-H. Two enthusiastic junior high students wanted to raise guide dog puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Susan Urben received Jova, a Golden Retriever, and Mike Kroon received Elvis, a Yellow Labrador. Susan and Mike took their puppies on many outings and interest spread to other 4-H youth. The club needed an adult leader so Susan's mother, Charlotte Urben, stepped forward.

For the next 20 years, the club grew to one of the largest in Oregon. In 1998, Charlotte started grooming Nancy Prewitt as the new leader of Sightmasters. Nancy took over full leadership in 1999; Charlotte continued in a supporting role. At this time Nancy had one assistant, George Blanton, but asked a new raiser, Michele Hall, to also assist in running the club.

After many years of faithful service, Charlotte formerly retired from leading and raising guide dog puppies June 2001. As she would say, she was hanging up her leash for good.

Under Charlotte’s and Nancy’s leadership, Sightmasters became so large that the club needed to split. In 1999 Karen Corsini and Chris Bell agreed and trained to become leaders for a new group, Sightmasters South. They made their base of operations in Clackamas County, near Wilsonville. Their group started small, but has grown. The current leader is Lori Rydman-Marsh.

As Nancy continued leading, the club became more diverse in its make-up. Sightmasters has as many adult raisers as youth raisers. Again in 2001, Sightmasters was so large that the club needed to split for a second time in its history. Nancy and her assistant Michele asked Barbara Surber to train and become a leader for a new club. Barbara agreed and became the leader of Paws for a Cause in the summer of 2001. Her club was located west of Aloha in Washington County.

Even after two splits, Sightmasters remains one of the largest clubs in Oregon. Our mission and that of Guide Dogs for the Blind is so compelling that people seek us out to raise puppies. We continue drawing people from Beaverton, Aloha, Tigard, and NW Portland.

As of 2011, Nancy Prewitt continues as the primary leader.