A class of their own: From self-described country-boy waiter turned USDA inspector, Dr. Daniel Skelton, to the only woman in her graduating class, Dr. Linda Peddle, these five veterinarians, and Cornell University alumni, all have a story to share. And Dr. Donald Smith, dean emeritus of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, captures them all as part of his Enduring Veterinary Legacy project.
While his father was upset he wanted to become a veterinarian, Clarence ‘Keeze’ Roberts threw himself into college life. He studied hard and after graduation opened a general practice in Morrisville, New York. Roberts later accepted a position with a milk company. He worked his way up to a management position, and by 1945 he was named president of the company. Roberts died at age 100 in 1999.
Dr. Marie Koenig Olson was the seventh woman to graduate from Cornell’s veterinary college where her father taught equine and ambulatory medicine. While her mother – a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s – wanted her to be a dancer, Olson instead followed her father’s path. After graduation, she worked for a small animal clinic before joining her father’s practice. Olson worked and took care of her two children while her husband later went to veterinary school. They eventually opened a small-animal veterinary hospital together.
The Olson family legacy in veterinary medicine lives on.
Daniel Skelton decided to become a veterinarian while working for the president of LeMoyne College in Memphis where Skelton was studying chemistry and biology. Following three rejections, Skelton was accepted to Cornell’s veterinary college. After graduation he joined the Bureau of Animal Industry and moved to Iowa. When he retired, he was the circuit supervisor responsible for the inspection of meat, poultry and packing plants for the Department of Agriculture in Kansas. An avid golfer, Skelton helped integrate city-owned golf courses in Wichita after World War II. He and his wife had two children.
At age 12, Clarence Bent and his mother moved to a poultry farm in New Hampshire further sparking his interest in animals. Bent attended both Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire before being admitted to New York State Veterinary College. He worked for an animal hospital after graduation before establishing his own practice in New Hampshire. Bent was deployed with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He retired in 1974.
Linda Dixon Reeve Peddie
Linda Dixon Reeve was the only female in her veterinary class. She married a classmate, James Peddie, and they moved to California. After James served in the Veterinary Corps., they partnered in the Conejo Valley Veterinary Clinic in Thousand Oaks. The two served as “veterinarians to the animal stars” caring for animals in television series like “Frazier” and “Full House,” and the film “Dances with Wolves.” Peddie retired in 2002.