Posted July 18, 2010
Dr. Charles R. Rigdon of Johns Creek, Ga., the AVMA’s 106th president, died May 30 after a short illness. He was 81. Dr. Rigdon brought his commitment to quality veterinary medicine, his passion for small animal practice, and his leadership experience to organized veterinary medicine.
For 38 years Dr. Rigdon owned DeKalb Animal Hospital in Tucker, Ga., founding the small animal hospital in 1958 and retiring in 1996. A 1951 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Rigdon began his veterinary career with a commission in the Air Force Veterinary Corps. After two years of military service, he entered practice in his hometown of Tifton, Ga., and then Lafayette, Tenn.
His colleagues showed their regard by naming him the American Animal Hospital Association Veterinary Practitioner of the Year in 1978 and the Georgia VMA Veterinarian of the Year in 1979.
An AVMA honor roll member, Dr. Rigdon represented Georgia in the AVMA House of Delegates from 1969-1977 as alternate delegate and then delegate. In 1979 he became president of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and from 1981-1982 he chaired the Executive Board during a term representing District III. His AVMA service culminated with his election as president, an office he held in 1984-1985.
As recommended in Dr. Rigdon’s presidential address to the House of Delegates, the Executive Board appointed an ad hoc committee to study two of the issues he raised: an AVMA redistricting proposal to address “a gross disparity of representation” in six of 11 districts and a line of ascendancy for AVMA elected officers. However, the ad hoc committee concluded that the AVMA should retain the existing election process, and the House of Delegates disapproved the redistricting proposal.
Dr. Rigdon and 2009-2010 AVMA President Larry R. Corry (GA ’66) of Buford, Ga., were the two AVMA presidents who hailed from Georgia. Dr. Corry remembered his friend and colleague. “A man of integrity, honesty, kindness, innovativeness, outstanding leadership ability, and, above all—class—are just a few descriptions of Dr. Charlie Rigdon. He was a role model for me as I followed him as a GVMA director and president, AVMA delegate, AVMA Executive Board member, and AVMA president. He was a giant in the veterinary profession, his community, and family life. He will be greatly missed.”
Committed to giving back to his profession, Dr. Rigdon served on dozens of other professional boards and organizations, including terms as president of the Greater Atlanta VMS and in 1970 the Georgia VMA.
Dr. Rigdon had a fierce allegiance to his alma mater and was once president of the UGA Veterinary Alumni Association. An ardent Georgia Bulldog fan, he was elected to the University of Georgia Gridiron Secret Society in 1968, considered by many to be the highest honor bestowed on a UGA alum. The veterinary college named him Veterinary Alumnus of the Year in 1974 and recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in 1979.
Dr. David P. Anderson (WSU ’61) of Winterville, Ga., said, “I was the dean of the vet school here in Georgia for 20-some years, so I got to know Charlie real well. He was a tremendous supporter of veterinary education and particularly of the Georgia college. He was on our alumni board for a number of years, and, of course, he was very active in the state association. We all supported him when he ran for the AVMA presidency and were quite proud of him for doing that. He was a good personal friend, he and his wife both.
“Charlie was somebody that you could sit down and talk to about problems we were having at the college. He knew the background of about everything going on in the state of Georgia in veterinary medicine. He was a real gentleman.”
Among his other honors were the Distinguished Service Award from the Greater Atlanta VMS in 1988 and the A.M. Mills Award from Lambda Chapter of Alpha Psi in 1980.
Dr. Rigdon’s willingness to serve extended to numerous civic organizations. In Tucker he served as president of the Community Association, Business Association, and Kiwanis Club, and he was a board member of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. He was a deacon of Briarlake Baptist Church and an avid supporter of the Boy Scouts, which initiated him into the Order of the Arrow for his contributions to scouting.
Dr. Rigdon met his wife of 57 years, Rose Williams, while they were college students. She survives him, along with their three children—Sharon McCullough, Charles R. Rigdon Jr., and Robin Rider—and 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Building Fund, 501 D. W. Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602, or to Eagle Ranch, P. O. Box 7200, Chestnut Mountain, GA 30502.
Dr. William F. Jackson (MSU ’47) of Lakeland, Fla., AVMA president in 1979-1980, said, “Charlie and I have been friends for 60 years. I have never known a finer man.”