Monday, March 11, 2019

Milliron Monday: Remembering Dempsey Sharp 3 11 19

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

Ted Nugent, the rock and roll icon writes, "It's the guy that goes to his grave with the most powerful memories that wins." After meeting Dempsey Sharp, I believe he had the most powerful memories. He lived successfully. A man of many talents, Dempsey was a writer, botanist, photographer, and historian. A friend to Dr. Smith, Dempsey was one of those people you like to hang out with who weaves intriguing tales, bringing you into his world, caring about your journey into the nooks and crannies of his story. 

It was March 9, 2013, when I met Dempsey Sharp for the first time. We met at the Athens County Public Library. We talked about Dempsey's adventures with Dr. Smith. Here is an excerpt from Dempsey's interview...

     Dempsey Sharp worked for Pete for a very long time, especially on the sawmill. “Pete and I just seemed to click. We were very close friends,” Dempsey explains. “I was looking for a veterinarian to take care of my dog and my cats. Somebody mentioned the Milliron Clinic. I took my dog to Pete for shots and that’s how we got acquainted. I don’t know whether you know it or not, but on my bill he always wrote No Charge. Pete worked with all animals, large and small, but I believe he especially favored racehorses. Once he expressed an interest in a medication that I was using for a breathing problem. Advair had just come on the market and it had made a marked difference in my life, especially in the control of asthma. He investigated the possibility of using Advair with racehorses but decided it presented too much of a problem to administer an effective dose. He was thinking that if he could keep the airways more open and relaxed, they would have more stamina. Pete said, ‘The difference between a winner and a loser is the small fraction of a second.’ I would like to believe that he considered me to be on the right side of that fraction. I know he was.
      “I found out that Pete was interested in trees,” Dempsey continues. “He was as interested in trees as he was horses. I believe that horses were his real love of life. But he loved trees, too. He said that he had some trees that I could come over and look at, and I did. He knew I was fascinated with wildflowers. Then this thing came up about the sawmill. That sawmill he had! We had a lot of conversations about how to strengthen certain things, how much stress/weight he could put on certain things, and what kind of timbers he would need to build the sawmill. I did a lot of that figuring for him. I was an engineer in the war. So, we got started. I didn’t do the measurements. I did the computations for the strength requirements.”
      In the spring of the year, on non-clinic days, Pete and Dempsey would set out on wildflower tours. They would get an early start and make their rounds through the State Nature Preserves. “We went into the woodland where the wildflowers were,” Dempsey says. “Pete was pretty good about recognizing wildflowers. He was interested in botany. Occasionally we’d run into some unusual flowers and we would talk about them. I gave Pete a few wildflower pictures that I had taken. He hung them on the wall of the second floor of the sawmill.
      “Pete would take a trip with me back home to visit my kin people in West Virginia,” Dempsey smiles. “From the clinic, we would take Route 50 through Parkersburg to Clarksburg. Then we would take Route 79 South and cut off when we got to a certain place and take the country roads to my home. Honest to God, I could be driving along at 70 mph and I would see a flower appear on a hillside and I knew exactly what that flower was; most of the time from their color. When Pete and I went, we were out from early morning to late. When you start looking at flowers, and really look at them, you take your time and don’t look at anything else. Pete loved all wildflowers. We would never pick them. Well, once in a while we’d pick violets.”

Sincere condolences to the family of Dempsey Sharp.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

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