By    Bonnie Bolen

Hello everyone! 

Welcome to articles entitled "Breeder Profiles" and "Judge's Corner Profiles".  I have to confess, I volunteered for this assignment and Gary Mohr was intelligent enough to see the potential of my interviewing exhibitors and profiling them for the "Illinois News" and on the I.R.B.A. web page. If you would like to be profiled, contact me at a show, by phone (815) 998-2168, or by e-mail at and I will add you to my list.

Now, sit back, relax, and try to enjoy my interviews with those people thus far.   



Meet Bill Bolen

December 8, 2004

Hello fellow Champagne breeders,

When Wayne visited with me in Rhode Island at the National Convention, he asked me to write a biography about my husband, William “Bill” Bolen. This is going to be quite a surprise for him. I thought this would be easy but find myself having trouble writing about this quiet, gentle man.

Bill was the firstborn child of John Jr. and Bertha Bolen (both now deceased) of rural Odell. He was born in Pontiac, Illinois on April 24, 1949. His parents had little interest in rabbits but did allow Bill to raise them for meat and for his 4-H project. When they saw he was determined to continue with this hobby, Bill was allowed to attend some sanctioned shows.

A wonderful man named Art Wiehle, he will be familiar to some of you “older” breeders, was kind enough to take Bill under his wing and take him along to shows. Now, if you knew Art, you knew he always had to be the first one at a show so that meant Bill had to get up very early in order to catch his ride. I know that Bill still speaks kindly of Art and that may be one of the reasons Bill is so interested in helping youth get started with raising and exhibiting quality show rabbits.

We were married on July 30, 1972 and started out with some nice crossbred rabbits to be used mostly for food. As our family grew and our children expressed interest in the rabbits we purchased some quality show animals. When our eldest son, Billy, started 4-H in 1983, Bill began helping out at the Livingston County 4-H fair in the rabbit division. With the exception of a one year sabbatical, Bill remains a rabbit superintendent at the fair. He has enjoyed this immensely and knows all the youth by name. To this day he can tell you the names of kids he has helped with their rabbit project over 20 years ago.

Although Bill’s love is for the Champagne he was generous enough to allow his children to show whatever breed they chose. Billy (1974) exhibited Dutch until he took a fancy to Mini Lops and stayed with them for 16 years. Wendy (1976) loved her New Zealand blacks. Joe Thomas (1978) exhibited a Californian/Cal Satin cross for a few years then decided he was more of a chicken type person. Robert (1980) exhibited Crème D’Argents until he convinced his dad to give him a trio of Champagnes. After that, there was no turning back. He, like his father, was a die hard fan of the beautiful Champagne D’Argent.

When Bill found out a friends daughter was interested in going to sanctioned shows he didn’t hesitate to offer her a ride. For those of you who know her, I am speaking of Erika Thorson. Erika, under Bill’s tutelage and watchful eye exhibited some of the nicest Silver Martens we had seen in the youth in a long time. She and Robert attended many, many shows with us in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin. We went to several National shows together and of course the State Conventions in Illinois and Missouri. Bill treated her as though she were his own child. He helped her improve her herd and encouraged her to become a registrar. I am proud to say she succeeded in her goals. Erika placed first in judging at a National out of a group of 99 entrants. I know it was partially because Bill worked with her and encouraged her to strive for perfection in her breeding program. That is just one example of how he has helped a youth. I could easily give you more.

Bill has been very generous to not only the youth but also any adult breeder who took a fancy to the Champs. He has given away more rabbits than he has sold. He is always trying to improve his herd. He is the first one to congratulate a winner at a show. He has won one Best in Show and like he says-they can’t ever take that away from me. Even when his breeding program slips and he finds himself searching for a quality rabbit in a litter of eight, I have never heard him say he was going to quit showing his beloved Champagnes.

I have included a photo of Bill as a young man of 16 with two trophies and a Champagne D’Argent. Wayne promised me he would keep it safe and return it to me as it is the only photo I have of Bill as a young person with his favorite breed. I wanted to share it with you as Bill has only been exhibiting in sanctioned shows again for the last seven years or so. He is not new to this hobby but took a very long sabbatical in order to allow his children the joy of exhibiting their rabbits. Our children still have their trophies but most of all, they have memories of a dad who took the time to teach them, travel with them and instill a love of showing rabbits!

I am very proud of Bill and I would like to thank Wayne for asking for this biography. Please visit with Bill if you see him at a show. He is a little shy and very quiet when I’m around. Rumor has it that he is very talkative when I’m not there hogging the lime light!!! He has a wealth of knowledge to share. Bill is what one might call “a good man” and that, my friends, is quite a legacy to leave for his children, grandchildren and friends.

Bonnie Bolen (wife and friend)


   Meet Marv Wunderlin

     Hello readers!  I would like to introduce Marv Wunderlin to you.  Marv and his wife, Carol are the parents of 5 children; Joanne (John), Jane (Bob), Janet (Paul), Jeff (Bev), and Jill (Brian).  Marv and Carol are very family oriented.

     Marv got his start in rabbits, like most parents, through 4-H.  He started out in 1969 with some New Zealand reds purchased from Leo Eisle.  His first sanctioned show was in Peoria and the judge was Fibber McGeehee.  Marv told me he put his rabbits on the table and couldn't get to the other end fast enough to take them off the table!  He swore he'd NEVER go to another rabbit show.

     His next purchase was a New Zealand white doe from Jim Morgan.  Marv said she was the scrawniest looking rabbit he had ever laid eyes on!  This doe gave him many Best of Breeds and his first Best in Show.  To this day, Marv decides what rabbits will be his brood animals by what they produce and not how they look.

     In 1970, Marv joined the Livingston County Rabbit Breeders, Inc. and is still actively involved in the club.  He was given an honorary Lifetime membership a few years ago.

     Marv didn't start showing in Open until his youngest daughter, Jill, stopped showing.  This was around 1987.  He exhibited his N.Z. whites and Jill's Florida Whites.

     Marv was employed by Gardner Sales & Service (a John Deere dealership) in Pontiac for 31 years.  He decided to become a rabbit judge so he would have a part-time job upon retirement.  Marv became a judge in 1986 at the National Convention in Columbus, Ohio.  His "part-time" job has taken him to Bermuda, Canada, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas and all over the state of Ilinois!!  Not bad for a part-time job.

     Presently, Marv raises Californians and Florida Whites.  One of his favorite memories, over the years, is when he won BOB at the 1995 ARBA National convention.  He had put a nice little Florida White junior doe up for the sale BEFORE the breed was exhibited.  Imagine his surprise when she took BOB!  The breed chairman said he would understand if Marv wanted to put a replacement doe up for sale but Marv wanted to keep his word.  She brought $400.00.  Luckily, Marv had the parents at home and they gave him some winners.

     I asked Marv what he enjoyed most about being a judge.  Without hesitation and in his own gruff way, Marv responded with "the rabbit people".  He has made many friends and probably a few enemies along the way (Carol added that Marv has a few "girlfriends" also as witnessed by the hugs he receives when he shows up to judge).  He enjoys traveling and knows all of the good places to stop for supper.  A hint from Marv, if there aren't very many cars in the parking lot-Keep Going-the food probably isn't very good.

     Marv appears stern and gruff, but visit with him sometime.  When he is behind the table, he is usually all business but away from the judging table he has a great sense of humor.  I'm proud to call him my friend and I know he LOVES Mini Lops!!  After all, he offered to take one to Ohio for me once.  If you want to get him going, ask him about it.

     I hope you enjoyed reading about Marv Wunderlin.  If you are a judge and would like to be included in a ”Judge’s Corner”  profile article, please contact me at or see me at a show.  

 This article is a reprint from a 2001 interview.

  Bonnie Bolen, Reporter



Remember to look me up if you would like to share something about yourself with others through an article. I hope you enjoy reading the profiles, and getting to know a little more about the people showing around you.  I'd like to 'Thank' each of these people for taking the time to speak with me.             
Bonnie Bolen,  Reporter