Medicine from the Heart
A Talk with Dr. Eugene Williams
By Sherri L. Barclay, Barclays Arabians

Ahhh, retirement. Some of us picture sleeping in late, not punching a time clock anymore, spending quiet time with the family, etc. Heck, maybe even a trip to a sunny location to relax without a care in the world on some tropical beach spending your monthly Social Security check on things you want but don’t really need. Some of us picture retirement that can come as early as our 60’s and they say we will count down the days until that fateful day arrives.

Well, imagine if your retirement years were spent on late nights and early mornings. Phone calls at all hours of the day and night. Traveling for miles in all kinds of weather to see and treat sick animals. Dealing with patients that can’t tell you what is wrong with them? Working holidays if needed? Well, believe it or not this is what one mans day is like when most of us would hope to be enjoying retirement and all the spoils that go with it.

Dr. Eugene Williams, most recently living in Bandera, Texas, is an 85-year-old vet that still practices veterinarian medicine to this day! Yes, you heard me right; he is 85 years old and still going strong. He is the oldest practicing veterinarian in the state of Texas and quite possibly even the US. Blessed with 3 children (two daughters and a son), 5 grandchildren and one great grandson as well as a wife of over 57 years, Dr. Williams certainly has a full life.

Dr. Williams received his degree from Texas A&M University in 1957 and has been practicing veterinarian medicine for over 47 years. At one time Dr. Williams had a small and large animal clinic in Houston off of the Katy freeway. These days though his practice is strictly out of his mobile unit as he travels all over to see patients in the comfort of their own homes.

Dr. Williams explained to me that technology has changed a lot over the years since he graduated in veterinarian medicine. “It parallels human medical technology and vets now have access to digital radio graphs as well as MRI capabilities at select locations across the U.S. at this time”. Things, which are commonly used in our lifetimes, were not available at the beginning of Dr. Williams long and illustrious career.

At one point in Dr. Williams’s profession it was not unusual for him to work 80+ hours in a week. Now that he has gone to being strictly mobile, he limits his work to 40 hours a week. Some of us can’t handle 40 hours at half his age in jobs that are not as demanding as his. When I asked him about having any thoughts of retirement Dr. Williams replied “No. I enjoy my job too much”.

Veterinary medicine has always been a dream for Dr. Williams since he was just a boy. He has always had a strong desire to work with animals, especially horses. His mobile practice is now strictly large animals with most of his clients being horses. His current areas of service are in Bandera county and surrounding areas.

What makes being a vet so important to Dr. Williams is his love for animals. He also has a deep passion for the care and health of these animals especially the horses. It is not about the money however the love and commitment for his job as well as his clients. A trait we wish all individuals shared.

There are things that we all strive for and Dr. Williams is no exception to the rule. He strives to provide both his clients and his patients with a satisfactory service for both based on his education, knowledge & experience. There are difficulties that go along with his occupation as well as any job we may take on. The most challenging part of the job for Dr. Williams is trying to perform a service on an animal without the owner or other caretaker present for consultation.
Colic, as with most vets, is what Dr. Williams considers his most difficult cases. Colic cases that cannot be cured by routine medical procedures may require surgery. As most horse owners know, colic surgery can be an expensive procedure for the client and it is not always 100% successful.

I asked Dr. Williams to describe his most rewarding case and his answer was one we hope is shared by all in his profession. After speaking with him however his answer did not surprise me in the least. Dr. Williams simply said; “Every case that I treat that results in a positive outcome is rewarding to me. The emotional reaction of the owner in response to a successful treatment is more rewarding than any words could express”.

Being a vet is not always easy and days off are pretty well non-existent. Mrs. Williams did not care what her husband did as long as he was happy and enjoyed his work. She said it never ceased to amaze her that there seemed to be a colic case call every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Unfortunately horses don’t take a holiday off from getting ill. Haven’t you ever noticed that if horses are going to get hurt it is either on a Saturday afternoon RIGHT after the vet closed for the weekend? Or maybe on a holiday like Mrs. Williams recalled which either way added an emergency call expense to your bill.

There is one word that Dr. Williams says describes the way he feels about veterinarian medicine and that word is “Wonderful”. Treating his animal clients and having them recover means a lot to this seasoned professional. He is all heart and continues to be there for animal lovers as well as their beloved pets 24/7.

Where will you be at age 85? Retired? On a permanent vacation? In a foreign country taking in the local charm? Maybe, just maybe you will find a career that you love and have so much passion for that retirement is not an option. A career that you continue working until the day you finally say it’s time. You can then look back at your life and say; Man, that was a great 50+-year ride!

Finally for any of you that may be considering being a vet, the final question I asked was about any advise he would give to an individual looking for a degree in the veterinarian field. Dr. Williams simply replied to me, “Specialize in small animals”. Yes, folks he has a sense of humor and that was a joke!

If you would like to contact Dr. Williams his # is 830-796-3617.

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