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Kim Everett-Hirsch plans going out with one last giant cat show

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kim Everett-Hirsch and her husband Fred Hirsch are the proud owners of cat show champion Starpawz. Kim and Fred have become great Lake Oswego boosters in recent years.

If you want to meet somebody who has lived life to the fullest, meet Kim Everett-Hirsch.

“If I checked out tomorrow I haven’t missed much,” she said.

Everett-Hirsch is not prone to such understatement, because if you have lived a remarkable life and have a golden gift of gab, why hide your light under a bushel basket? Everett-Hirsch doesn’t. If you experience Everett-Hirsch, make sure you have lots of time. You won’t regret it.

Right now, she and her husband, Fred Hirsch, are still experiencing their new home of Lake Oswego. Of course, she has overwhelming enthusiasm for LO.

“Nothing is going to pull us out of here,” Everett-Hirsch said. “We love Lake Oswego. The trees, the beauty and all of the littleness to it.”

Everett-Hirsch deserves a biographer like Henry Fielding or Jonathan Swift, great authors who get the big picture yet immerse themselves in lots of colorful details.

Her life’s journey includes being an ice skater, hardball pitcher (“We beat everybody.”), competitive horsewoman in several styles of riding, champion dog breeder, political campaigner (she got her start in the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign of 1960), a world traveler who has racked up 8 million air miles, etc. When she has to be a high society lady she can do it with style and aplomb, with the requisite jewelry and stylish evening gowns. For the most part, though, she much prefers dressing in her gardening togs.

The topper in Everett-Hirsch’s life of fun, risk and adventure came when at age 62 she decided to become a body builder. Her proclamation of this ambition initially met with heavy skepticism. “You got a lot of work ahead of you,” her trainer Joe Pratt told her in a flat voice. But in a couple of years she was striding runways in a teeny weeny bikini, tanned, sparkly and flexing her magnificent muscles to applauding crowds.

“I was 98 pounds, and I was ripped!” Everett-Hirsch said.

In a life lived with such passion, perhaps the most impressive thing about Everett-Hirsch might be her huge well of compassion. She recently expressed the wish to adopt the child of a Latin American family trying to cross over into the US. Or taking a returning American soldier from the wars in the Middle East into her home and helping him adjust to his life back in the US.

Fortunately for cats, they are the primary targets for Everett-Hirsch’s caring. The best example of that is the upcoming 51st Annual Oregon Cats Classic, sponsored by Oregon Cats, Inc., on Aug. 16 and 17 in Portland, one of the greatest cat extravaganzas in the Northwest. Amazingly, Everett-Hirsch founded the event 51 years ago when she was only 26 years old. This will be that last time the big cat show will ever be held in Portland. Next year, it will be held in Japan (although it will still be called the Oregon Cats Classic), and Everett-Hirsch is finally calling it quits as show president.

“It’s time to give it up,” Everett-Hirsch said.

But she plans to go out with a big bang.

“We’ll be draining our treasury,” Everett-Hirsch said. “We’ll make sure the organizations get their money. I’m the president, I’m the founder, so that’s the way it’s going to be. This is going to be quite a show. We put on fantastic shows for the whole family.”

The beneficiary of half of the money raised in the Oregon Cat Classic will be Lake Oswego’s own Oregon Cats Project, led by founder and director Dana Lionel.

“In the past we’ve been able to give Dana $1,000,” Everett-Hirsch said. “This year we hope to raise $3,000 or $4,000.”

It is doubtful that anyone else in the world can put on a better cat show than Everett-Hirsch. She was a cat show judge for 43 years in countries all over the world — Russia, China, Australia, Argentina, Venezuela, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Belgium, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada, England. Her natural knack for show biz made her perhaps the most entertaining and knowledgeable cat show judge ever. With her ultra-fancy tuxedo and glittering cummerbund that would make Liberace blush, she had loads of style.

“They called me the Michael Jackson of cat judging,” Everett-Hirsch said.

Best of all, Everett-Hirsch could pick up a cat and seemingly turn it into giant piece of elastic. Cats would seemingly turn into putty in her hands as she walked into awed crowds, twisting, stretching and turning the cat, all the while talking about its qualities and history. This kind of stuff made Everett-Hirsch a celebrity in the cat-crazy nation of Japan.

“They called me Kim-San,” she said. “They would bow to me and I would bow to them.”

The cat-loving Japanese people were so fond of Everett-Hirsch that they gave her a nickname — Motor Mouse.

“They have a hard time saying the word mouth,” Everett-Hirsch explained.

Everett-Hirsch’s great love for cats started in the kind of offhand way that has often ignited her greatest enthusiasms, although her love for cats came relatively late in her animal love parade. She loved dogs, horses and other animals before becoming a friend to all felines. One day she was merely leaving some horse stables in Portland and was driving home when she noticed a sign advertising a cat show stuck on a telephone pole.

“I thought, ‘A cat show? You must be kidding,’” Everett-Hirsch said.

But being even more curious than a cat, Everett-Hirsch called the number on the sign, and immediately her life began following a cat-like direction. Her cat mentor Betty Denny latched onto Everett-Hirsch, and she soon found herself as show secretary and entry clerk for the Willamette Valley Cat Club. The rest is cat-fancying history.

Yes, Everett-Hirsch is stepping down as director of the Oregon Cats Classic. And at age 77 she admits she probably cannot pursue her latest ambition of becoming a cage fighter. But Everett-Hirsch is not turning quiet or lazy all of a sudden. She will surely have an impact on life in Lake Oswego in the years ahead.

“I’m a handful,” Everett-Hirsch said. “I’m Irish to the core.”

The Oregon Cats Classic will be held at the Portland Expo Center, 2060 N Marine Drive. Entry deadline is noon on Aug. 12. For more information, go to the website fliers.cfanorthwest.org/OCI or call show manager Linda Humpage at 503-550-1545.

Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for veterans and seniors, students and the disabled. There is a $10 rate for families.

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