This I Believe

Dr. Russell - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Entered on May 18, 2006
Age Group: 65+

THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE

I believe the best decision I ever made during my life was to become a veterinarian.

Pinpointing the exact point in time that the decision was made would be difficult as there were so many contributing factors. Being raised on a central Illinois farm and being active in the 4-H and FFA organizations, I developed an intense love of farm animals. I made pets out of a lot of the animals which I cared for. As much as I enjoyed working with farm animals, it should have followed that I would have wanted to become a livestock farmer. Such was not the case, however as I had made a firm resolve never to become a farmer of any sort. The trauma endured by the Anthony family as a result of the loss of the family farm during the Great Depression served only to increase that resolve.

I developed a hero worship for our farm veterinarian as he was such a great guy. That hero worship increased each time he would save my pet Jersey cow from dying with milk fever. I think between his and my dad’s encouragement, I had my mind made up to become a veterinarian by the time I graduated from high school in May, 1942.

Accomplishing my goal had to be put on hold while I served in the military during World War II. I enlisted in the Army Air Corps on June 19,1942 and served for 41 months as an engineer top turret gunner on a B-26 medium bomber. I flew 31 combat missions over France, Germany and Northern Italy.

My long military service put me in a good position towards accomplishing my goal to becoming a veterinarian. I doubt whether I could have afforded the expense of completing my education had it not been for government’s GI Bill of Rights. I received most of the monetary assistance necessary to complete 4 years of pre-veterinary study in

Animal Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana and 4 years of professional study at Iowa State University, Ames.

When I received my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in June of 1953, I felt I knew all there was to know about veteranary medicine. After all I was armed with my Merck Manual and had just completed 8 years of valuable college training.

What a rude awakening I received when I got into a 4 partner practice at Mt. Carroll, IL. My lack of experience and being the youngest member of the partnership meant that I was relegated to pulling caves and castrating hogs and calves. After being in practice for awhile, however my partners had more faith in me and I got to practice more vetertinary medicine.

I was given the opportunity to go to Cedar Rapids, Iowa and work in a small animal practice with a classmate of mine. I fit in very well as I loved the animals as well as my clients and they responded very well to my care of their pets.

I can honestly say that my career as a veterinarian has been very successful through the years. Now that I am retired, I believe becoming a veterinarian was the best decision I ever made.