In its ten years of existence, LIR has been blessed with many enthusiastic volunteers who bring a wealth of varied experience and interest to the organization. Fred Born is a perfect example. As charter members, he and his wife Joyce are familiar faces at many presentations, but Fred is just as likely to be behind the podium as in the audience. He may be officially described as a retired veterinarian, but Joyce has been known to wonder when he will really retire.
Fred was born in Sheboygan and raised on a dairy farm in Cleveland, WI. Early in childhood the interest that would carry him through life became evident. He combined his love of horses with a natural talent for art and learned to draw them at the age of seven. As a new veterinarian, he combined the seemingly disparate interests of animals and art to create three successful publications that gained international recognition as valuable assets to every veterinarian. Young Fred’s love of horses was further fueled when an uncle who carved merry-go-round horses created on just for him. It pivoted around a pole in his back yard, and Fred recalls that his task every night was to remove the tail of the horse and bring it in the garage for safekeeping.
Fred’s father died when he was ten, and his mother remarried two years later. His stepfather, who also loved horses, bough him his first live one, a trained trick horse, when Fred was 15. Within tow years, the family had 15 horses and Fred set up a summer business by offering saddle rides to patrons of a nearby resort using the seven or eight mounts deemed safe for novice riders.
The Korean War ended his college deferment; Fred served in the Air Force for 1952 to 1956 and was stationed in England for two of those years. In 1956 he enrolled in the pre-veterinary program at Michigan State University (Wisconsin did not have a veterinary school at that time) and received his DVM degree in 1962, during his third year of veterinary school, Fred asked the family farm’s veterinarian if he could work as a “go-fer” during the summer. When this friend, who was a veterinarian in a neighboring town, was recovering from surgery, Fred was called on to perform additional tasks that gave him hands-on experience, over a six-week period. This experience gave Fred a definite edge over classmates in veterinary school. Fred’s first position was in a small animal practice in Greendale. In 1964 he struck out on his own in Fond du Lac, eventually starting a solo mixed practice. Joyce and he built a clinic that by 1973 included six veterinarians treating large and small animals. But that is only part of the story.
Fred has been active in professional and civic organizations throughout his life, and has garnered numerous awards along the way. One of his proudest accomplishments is authoring the three veterinary textbooks mentioned earlier. As a junior vet student, in 1960, Fred conceived the idea of creating a wall chart on the anatomy of the dog for use in examining rooms. It consisted of successive acetate overlay showing in turn a view of the muscles, internal organs, and skeleton of the dog. The large visual aids assisted veterinarians in explaining the anatomy and medical conditions of the dog to the pet’s owner. As successful as it was, the large chart proved unwieldy and fragile, so Fred hit on the idea of reproducing it as a 9x11” spiral booklet that could be stored in a drawer in the exam room.
The first book, THE CANINE was issued in 1967, with a first printing of 5000 copies. Everyone who saw it loved the idea, but it turned out that the printing on acetate was so expensive that there was no money left for advertising. Fred suggested that the publisher simply give a copy of the book to each new graduate of the 18 veterinary schools in the country. Orders quickly began to come in from employers of those new graduates once they saw how much this visual aid helped clients. A similar book, THE FELIN, was produced in 1968, followed by THE HORSE, in 1971. In 1992, EL PERRO was released as the Spanish edition of THE CANINE. In all, over 110,000 copies of the books were sold, some orders coming from as far away as Japan and France. In 1971, Fred received the Veterinarian of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association in recognition of the success of the first two books and hi involvement in state veterinary committees and additional state projects.
Looking over the long list of accomplishments both professional and community-related, the natural question arises: “How did you do it all?” Fred is quick to reply, “Late nights and an understanding wife and family.”
Joyce and Fred were married in June of 1958; they have two daughters and five grandchildren. It soon becomes clear that the family offered more than moral support. With the clinic next to their home, Joyce was often called to help out in late night and weekend emergencies. Though neither daughter followed him into his profession both took part in it. Fred chuckled as he recalled doing a number of emergency Caesarean sections on dogs late at night or over the weekends. Joyce and both girls, who were in grade school at the time, were called on to wipe down the puppies as they appeared. One time, they reported the incident at Show and Tell the next day, and the teacher and their classmates were amazed. The girls also inherited his artistic talent, and a young age. When he was having difficulty getting the correct angle for the drawing of the dog’s toenail for THE CANINE book, the six-year-old daughter sat on his lap and drew it for him. On daughter now lives near Omaha, NE# and the other in Austin, TX, giving Fred and Joyce the opportunity for travel to visit them.
Fortunately for LIR, Fred’s full time retirement coincided with its formation. He saw a notice of an organizational meeting and joined the approximately 100 people who met to create the program. He and Joyce became members in 1997. Fred chaired the curriculum committee for three semesters and remains an active member of the group today. In 2001 he received the LIR Volunteer of the Year award. True to his nature as a Renaissance man, Fred has done ten presentations for LIR and some ranged far from his veterinary experience. For example, he and Gloria Lin did three presentations on the subject of Designing and Creating Your Own Christmas Cards. His early interest in drawing remains, though he has recently ventured into digital photography and PowerPoint. One of his latest LIR sessions, “The History of the Horse Doctor – A Brief Summary of 4000 Years of Veterinary History,” led to an invitation to present the talk to the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention in Washington, DC, this past July. Fred is quick to point out that the beauty of LIR is that you can take a topic you are passionate about, explore it, and then share it.
With all he has accomplished and his plans for future projects, Fred is quick to give credit to Joyce and his family. In response to the question, “What is the one thing you’d like to have included in this profile?” he said, “The realization that ideas can be developed into reality, especially with the confidence, encouragement, and support of a wife and family.”