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.
Age and circumstance kept me from having much of a sibling relationship with Pete. I was only eight years old when our family moved from Denver back to New England. Pete stayed behind, working his way, without parental assistance, through Colorado State University. There he met Jody as an undergraduate and then stayed as a young married man working his way through vet school shoeing horses and working at a dog track.
Before he was married, Pete worked summers at the Bosler ranch north of Laramie. He got paid in Black Angus cattle which multiplied and formed the beginning of his Milliron Land & Cattle Company. The clinic was named after it. A true self-made man. I admired that about Pete.
When I was 13, I was given the opportunity to work on the same ranch. I was a real screw-up compared to Pete. Mr. Bosler made that pretty clear to me!
Later, when Pete moved to Athens, I had the privilege in my early 20s of spending vacation time now and then with the family. I accompanied Pete on his large animal house calls in his veterinary truck with its hot water heated by the exhaust system. I watched Pete do everything from Caesarian section on a cow in some pasture to castrating a horse – I nearly fainted at the horse incident.
I admired Pete tremendously for his independence, his success, his risk-taking, his everything. Despite my limited exposure to him, I can say he was a role model, although I hardly turned out anything like him.
I rarely saw Pete in recent decades, but I always made a point to call him on his birthday, June 16th. The last time we spoke was on Pete and Jody’s 50th wedding anniversary last September. Ironically, my only pet is a parrot, and Pete wasn’t trained in that part of the animal kingdom. But many may not know that Pete’s first pet was a crow that he named “Pliny.” That was Pete’s middle name, and he hated it, I’m told, so he gave it to the crow. “Pete” was a nickname, not his middle name. My parrot is named Flower, which tells you how different we are. I’ll miss him.