The AVMA’s 107th president, Dr. D.L. Proctor Jr., died Nov. 8, 2009, at the age of 91. The Kentucky veterinarian practiced equine medicine in Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World, and gave much back to his profession through organized veterinary medicine.
“My father’s vocation was his avocation—equine veterinary medicine,” said Dr. D.L. Proctor III (OSU ‘74), one of his two sons who are veterinarians. “He always put the profession first. He participated in the administration of veterinary medicine at all levels—local, state, and national.”
Dr. Proctor received his DVM degree from Cornell University in 1942. From 1943-1946 he served in the Army Remount Service in the China-Burma-India theater, rising to the rank of captain in the Veterinary Corps.
After the war he began his association with the Del-Tor Clinic in Lexington, which was owned by his father, Dr. D.L. Proctor (OSU ’17). Most of his time, however, was spent at the equine practice of Proctor and Proctor, which he shared with his son. It was located at the family’s Fair Trail Farm near Lexington, where Dr. Proctor Jr. also bred Thoroughbreds and Jack Russell Terriers.
He was a member of the Thoroughbred Club of America and the Kentucky Farm Managers’ Club and served as an adviser to the Grayson Foundation.
His son said, “I graduated in 1974 and worked with him until 2009. He would always back me up, but the same was true whether it was me or a colleague somewhere across town. He was a veterinarian’s veterinarian.”
Dr. Proctor received the AVMA Award in 2004 for his distinguished contributions toward advancing veterinary medical organizations. His term as AVMA president was from 1985-1986. He said he was elected on a platform of communication, concern, and con-tinuing education. He called on the profession to seriously consider third-party payment as the answer to what he considered the most pressing need in veterinary practice—helping pet owners afford the best care. Dr. Proctor focused on the need to provide food animal veterinary students not only with a good medical curriculum but also with business and field experience. He worked toward reinforcing the concept of the AVMA as the umbrella over the allied groups. His other priorities included ensuring a unified profession that speaks with one voice, correcting animal abuse, increasing research to improve animal welfare, and educating the public about animal health research and proper animal care.
“My father’s primary focus was furthering the welfare of animals through public education,” Dr. Proctor said. “Many animals never see a veterinarian in a calendar year. That’s part of the message he wanted to get out: These animals need constant care. It doesn’t matter if it’s a horse or zebra in a zoo or a Shih Tzu or a goldfish.”
His leadership within the Association included serving on the Executive Board from 1979-1983 and chairing the Council on Veterinary Service and the ad hoc Committee on Drug Availability. He was an AVMA honor roll member.
Dr. Proctor was an equally prominent figure in the American Association of Equine Practitioners for nearly the entire history of that organization. After serving as AAEP president in 1969, he was active on committees for many years. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, he consulted worldwide especially in his interest areas of equine surgery and lameness. He was a contributing author to several books and many publications.
In 1992 the AAEP presented Dr. Proctor with distinguished life membership. He was also a member of the British Equine Veterinary Association. Dr. Proctor served on the organizing committee for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and was elected as one of the first group of distinguished practitioners in the National Academies of Practice.
He also led the Kentucky VMA as president in 1972 and before that, the Central Kentucky VMA. Kentucky colleagues named him Outstanding Veterinarian of the Year in 1968 and Veterinarian of the Year a year later. The KVMA also presented him with the Distinguished Service Award in 1983 and its highest honor, the LaBore Award, in 1991. Dr. Proctor was also cited for service to agriculture in the state and served on an advisory committee for the veterinary technology program at Morehead State University.
Dr. Proctor retired from Proctor and Proctor in 1999 but continued to manage the family farm. A computer devotee, he also fielded questions on an equine clinicians’ network and monitored veterinary advancements through equine e-mail lists.
His wife, Alice, survives him, along with daughters Mary Louise Semancik and Celeste Proctor Berry and sons D.L. Proctor III, Michael, Rick, and Patrick (AUB ’82), a small animal practitioner in Ahoskie, N.C.
Memorial donations designated for Veterinary Scholarships may be made to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Dept. 20-1122, P.O. Box 5940, Carol Stream, IL 60197-5940.