Courtesy the Bailey Family
ROSEBURG, Ore. — Don Bailey, a long-time veterinarian and rancher in Douglas County, died at his ranch home March 20.
He would have been 92 on April 30. He died of age-related, natural causes.
It was appropriate that there was a flock of sheep in a nearby pasture on his Bar None Ranch because Bailey spent much of his 65-year career as a veterinarian and rancher working with that animal. After he and his wife, Betty, moved to Roseburg to serve an internship after he graduated in 1950 with a degree in veterinary medicine from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., most all of his work dealt with sheep and cattle.
The couple opened Bailey Veterinary Clinic in Roseburg in 1951. In addition to helping with the care of livestock throughout Douglas County, Bailey also got involved in numerous agricultural, veterinary and civic organizations and activities at the local, state and national level.
Bailey retired from his clinic in 1991 after a 40-year career and he retired as a rancher a couple of years ago. He had both a cattle and sheep operation, and at one time had about 2,000 ewes.
“He was young, ambitious and a really good veterinarian who was very good with sheep,” said Bob Hall, who owns and operates a ranch east of Roseburg. “He knew a lot about them and when he came out to the ranch, he would tell you how to do things so you wouldn’t have to call him the next time you needed help with the same problem.”
Eugene Holcomb and his sons, Richard and Roger, also learned from Bailey when the veterinarian visited their cattle and sheep operation near Elkton, Ore.
“He was really good at sharing the practical things he had learned over the years,” Richard Holcomb said. “He didn’t hesitate to try to bring our skill level up so we could do a lot of things we had previously called him out to do. I had such admiration for him. He was such a mentoring type of man, a man filled with a lot of graciousness.”
Rex Heard, a sheep rancher near Lookingglass, Ore., said he was impressed by Bailey’s eagerness to continue to learn.
“He was well into his 80s and he was still sitting in the front row at meetings and conferences, with a tablet and pencil, taking notes,” Heard said. “I learned from him that when you take notes, you’re forced to be attentive and it helps you learn. When I talk to 4-H and FFA groups, I tell them that is something I learned from a local veterinarian. You have to apply yourself.”
Bailey shared his knowledge beyond his own practice. Recognizing a need in small ruminant medicine, both in colleges of veterinary medicine and in food animal science, he helped organize the American Association of Sheep and Goat Practitioners (now the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners) in 1968. He served as the organization’s second president, secretary-treasurer and executive director.
The Roseburg veterinarian also held positions in other organizations: A member of the board of directors of the Intermountain Veterinary Medical Association, chairman of the Health Committee of the National Wool Growers Association, a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association House Advisory Committee, president of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and the Oregon Sheep Growers Association, the OSGA’s delegate to the National Wool Growers Association and one of the founders of the Douglas County Soil and Water Committee.
In 1974, while Bailey was president of the OVMA, he was an advocate of increasing the opportunities for Oregonians to study veterinary medicine. The School of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University was established later in the 1970s and a veterinary teaching facility was constructed at the school in 1980. Bailey became a member of the Oregon State University President’s Committee on Agriculture Education.
Since 1976, he was a frequent keynote speaker at state, national and international meetings.
On his ranch, Bailey and his wife, Betty, hosted hundreds of grade-school students for many years during lambing season so the kids could get that agricultural experience.
Glenn Kolb, the executive director of the OVMA, knew Bailey for the past 30 years. He described the veterinarian as “one of those generational leaders.”
“Over the years, he mentored countless veterinarians,” Kolb said. “He would tell them, ‘This is what I know, this is what I’ve learned over the years and if it can help you, great.’ He was a leader who felt it was important to give back.
“I’m thankful for the many years I was associated with him,” Kolb said. “He helped advance the veterinary profession as well as organized veterinary medicine.”
In 1982, Bailey began writing an animal health column for Sheep magazine. It was a regular feature in the magazine for about 30 years. He was also a contributing author to Current Veterinary Therapy-Food Animal Practice, Large Animal Internal Medicine and Practice of Large Animal Surgery.
In 1981, Bailey received the Degree of Honorary American Farmer Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with the FFA students and he was recognized locally with the 2012 Roseburg First Citizen Award.
Dave Jackson, a Roseburg-area cattle rancher, said Bailey was a “well respected man who was probably one of the most knowledgeable sheep experts on the West Coast.
“He didn’t mind getting his hands dirty,” Jackson said. “He taught me so much, I haven’t had to call on a vet in years. He’s been a dandy one for ranchers.”
“He was a barnyard type of veterinarian,” Hall said. “He’d always come up with a remedy, how to fix a problem with an animal. He was on the rancher’s side of everything.”
A celebration of life for Bailey is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 31 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Roseburg.