In Memoriam

’45 Dr. William Paul Hayman, Jr. of Orlando died May 27, 2017. A rarity today, Dr. Hayman was a Florida native, born in Winter Haven, and grew up in Bartow. He was a fourth-generation Floridian and a descendent of a Peace River pioneer family whose ancestors first settled central Florida in 1888. Following graduation from Auburn, Dr. Hayman received a Master in Public Health from Tulane University in 1950. After briefly practicing veterinary medicine in Gainesville, Dr. Hayman joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, caring for the ceremonial horses in Fort Meyers, Va. During his remaining 21 years of service, he held a variety of responsibilities, including base veterinarian, troop food inspector, and oversight of the sentry dog program during the Vietnam era. He retired as Colonel from the U.S. Air Force in 1975, and later assumed full-time management responsibilities for the family ranch, Hayman’s 711 Ranch. During his tenure, he focused on improving the size and quality of the Brangus herd by acquiring top-grade genetics and utilizing progressive breeding techniques, such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer. In his 15-year career managing the ranch, Dr. Hayman also continued the work of his father by developing and expanding improved pastures and experimenting with various types of grasses, improving the nutritional characteristics of the available forage. He was a member of the Southeast Brangus Breeders Association, International Brangus Breeders Association, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and also was active in Florida’s citrus industry since the 1950s, having served on the board of directors for the Haines City Citrus Growers Association for 17 years. In 2005, the ranch was awarded the Florida Environmental Stewardship Award from the Florida Cattlemen’s Association for outstanding conservation practices in Florida’s unique environment. Dr. Hayman remained a steward of the land, and his love and personal toil created a legacy in Florida’s agricultural community. He is survived by his wife, Maude; two daughters; three grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters. 

’48 Dr. James A. Smith, 90, of Richfield, Minn., died Dec. 4, 2016. A small animal veterinarian, he practiced at Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Minneapolis for 33 years. Dr. Smith was a veteran of the Army. He is survived by his wife, Joan, a son, daughter and grandson. 

’51 Dr. Charles S. Otto, Jr., 96, of LaGrange, Ga., formerly of Valley, Ala., died Feb. 2, 2017. Dr. Otto received his economics degree at the University of Michigan with the intent to pursue a law degree but joined the Army Air Corps and spent much of his time as a war correspondent in Iceland. After his tour of duty, he changed his career path and attended API (Auburn University), where he earned a DVM in 1951. Soon after graduation, he began his large and small animal veterinary practice in Dadeville, Ala. In 1954, he moved his practice to Langdale. Dr. Otto continued to serve the community with veterinary care until his retirement in 1995. Dr. Otto served in various community activities, projects, and organizations, and was proud of his instrumental legislative role in Montgomery that resulted in the formation of the Chamber of Commerce. He also was involved with the study of communities which ultimately led to the formation of the city of Valley, and he was one of the key leaders in the development of the Chattahoochee Humane Society. Dr. Otto also served as a Boy Scout leader where he led many young men to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout Award; coached Little League; served as president of the PTO at Valley High School; was involved with the Painted Rock Art Society; an avid supporter of the H. Grady Bradshaw Library; Pilot Club; served many years as a volunteer with Chattahoochee Hospice; and was a member of the American and Alabama Veterinary Medical Associations; Chambers County Development Committee; Chambers County Health Council; and the East Alabama Veterinary Medicine Society. Dr. Otto loved writing and displayed his journalistic talents through his many Letters to the Editor in the Valley Times-News. Dr. Otto is survived by his wife, Ruth; four children; 16 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.

’52 Dr. Warren Wright Kent, Sr., 94, of Birmingham died Jan. 17, 2017. He was a graduate of Thompson High School in Birmingham. “Hoss” served in the United States Air Force in World War II as a B24 tail gunner. He graduated from Auburn in 1952, earning his DVM, and practiced veterinary medicine for 51 years. He served as president of the Alabama VMA, was a member of the Auburn Veterinary Alumni Advisory Council for more than 20 years, and served as the first veterinarian for the Birmingham Zoo. He was a member of the Downtown Rotary Club and was a devoted member of Mountain Brook Baptist Church. He is survived by his son, Jim, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

’53 Dr. Henry “Hank” Herman Hayes died Jan. 25, 2017. Dr. Hayes graduated from Evergreen High School and planned to attend Flight School at the Pensacola Naval Base, but Pearl Harbor was attacked and he joined the Navy to defend his country. He was a Navy medic who fought and served with the Marines in the Guadalcanal Theater. He was wounded twice and received the Purple Heart medal. After rehabilitation at the San Francisco Naval Hospital, he enrolled at San Francisco State University in 1947. He was a member of the International House and worked on air for the university radio station. He attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University) Veterinary School, graduating in 1953. He practiced veterinary medicine in California, Oregon and Alabama. He was a lifelong Baptist, Rotarian and Mason. He retired from practice in Talladega and worked for the Green track in Eutaw for 10 years while subbing for vacationing veterinarians. Dr. Hayes is remembered for his love of animals, people, food, adventure and learning new things. Survivors include five children; three grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. 

’57 Dr. Benjamin Thomas (B.T.) Robertson, 91, of Auburn, Ala., died April 13, 2017. He served in WWII in General Patton’s Third Army, which turned northward to perform the famous Relief of Bastogne and established a supply line for the trapped 101st Airborne Division, and then entered Germany. During the fighting, he was wounded but refused to be evacuated, not wanting to leave his buddies and risk separation from the friends he had fought beside since landing in Europe. He fought on and crossed the Reine River with Patton. He survived the horrors of battle only to experience trauma from witnessing the suffering of the prisoners at the concentration camp at Ohrdorf, which his company liberated. For his actions, Dr. Robertson received the Combat Infantry Badge, a Bronze Star, and other awards. Upon discharge, he entered the University of Kentucky, earned his degree in agriculture, and was accepted to the School of Veterinary Medicine at API (Auburn University), where he earned the DVM in 1957. In 1962, he earned his master’s degree from Auburn University. He taught courses at the college, including clinics with the electrocardiographic diagnostic service and consulting. His patients included tigers, elephants, the Budweiser Clydesdales, and a chimpanzee that politely kept handing back the electrodes. He was approved for graduate teaching in 1965 and taught courses in cardiology, surgical techniques, cardiovascular anatomy, and human physiology. He served on 24 graduate committees and taught both interns and residents. His research with Pugs on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) helped explore the causality of SIDS in humans. Dr. Robertson taught a total of 23 postgraduate courses to veterinarians and served as a consultant to veterinary clinics and practicing veterinarians. Dr. Robertson received the 1993 Special Award for Excellent Teaching and Dedication in veterinary physiology, along with establishing long-term professional relationships with many students. Dr. Robertson belonged to numerous honor societies and received special awards: Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Zeta, Sigma Xi, OTS (national president), and Marquis’ Who’s Who. His administrative experience included: assistant department head, graduate student coordinator and Admissions and Standards committee; and his clinical and departmental responsibilities included teaching, research, and diagnostic services. In progressing the state of veterinary cardiology, he authored two manuals, Canine Cardiology and Canine Electrocardiograms, in addition to many peer-reviewed articles and dozens of presentations at professional meetings. Dr. Robertson also continued to consult, receiving regular EKGs from veterinarians across the U.S. and reporting his diagnosis, until his death. Outside of his academic career, Dr. Robertson cared for the Auburn community and participated in many civic organizations such as Auburn Lions Club, Lee (Lee-Scott) Academy Board of Directors, Little League baseball (coach), instructor in civil defense, and emergency amateur radio. He was an avid boater and gardener. He was also a dedicated Auburn fan, often ringing his Auburn bell whenever the Tigers triumphed. He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann, a daughter and extended family. 

’59 Dr. A.L. Duckworth, Jr., 83, of Greeneville, Tenn., died Dec. 19, 2016. Following graduation, Dr. Duckworth returned to Greeneville, where he practiced mixed animal medicine for 45 years at Duckworth Animal Hospital, a practice he established with his father, Dr. Ancel Duckworth, Sr. in 1935. Dr. Duckworth also helped his father operate Grassy Valley Angus Farm. In 2009, the Greene County Partnership honored him with the J.W. Massengill Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. Dr. Duckworth is survived by his wife, Nancy, a son and a daughter, and five grandchildren. 

’67 Dr. C. Wayne Roberts, 76, of Enterprise, Ala., passed away Jan. 31, 2017. In 1969, Dr. Roberts established his long-time practice, West Gate Veterinary Hospital, and practiced veterinary medicine for more than 45 years. During his long and distinguished career, Dr. Roberts served on many local veterinary boards, the Alabama Executive Board, and numerous state committees, before holding state offices such as president of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Roberts was appointed by Gov. Guy Hunt to serve on Alabama’s State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and appointed to a second term by Gov. Fob James. Because of his dedication, Dr. Roberts was selected Alabama Veterinarian of the Year in 1995 and was awarded the Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Auburn Alumni Award in 2003. Dr. Roberts was a devoted member of the Rotary Club and has served on almost every local and district Rotary committee and as president in 1975-76. He was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow and became Area 7 assistant governor while serving in the Rotary Club. Dr. Roberts was a faithful member of First Baptist Church in Enterprise where he served as a deacon for many years. He is survived by his wife, Mary, two daughters, five grandchildren, and extended family. 

’71 Dr. William V. Wellnitz, 69, of Pewee Valley, Ky., died Oct. 26, 2016. Primarily a small animal veterinarian, he most recently worked at Chenoweth Lane Pet Clinic in Louisville. Dr. Wellnitz began his career as a captain in the U.S. Air Force. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Cynthiana, Ky., for two years. He went on to own Plantation Animal Clinic in Louisville, Ky., for several years. He is survived by his wife, Sue, two children and a grandchild. 

’72 Dr. Max Murray Cooper, 79, died March 11, 2017. He served four years in the United States Air Force before graduating from the University of Tennessee and Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. He settled in Savannah, Ga., in 1974, where he started The Island Veterinary Clinic on Wilmington Island. Having grown up on a dairy farm, “Doc” joked that he’d had enough of cows, and thus focused his practice primarily on small animals. He had a successful career by being an honest hard-working man with a passion for animals. He was loved and highly respected by his colleagues, clients and patients. If he was not on one end of the island treating his patients, he could be found at the other end of the island playing golf with friends. He is survived by a son and five grandchildren. 

’73 Dr. Theodore L. Bellhorn, 69, of Oviedo, Fla., died Dec. 5, 2016. A Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Dr. Bellhorn began his career in small animal practice in Lakeland, Fla. He subsequently owned Seminole Veterinary Hospital in Sanford, Fla. He later taught at the University of Tennessee, worked in California, and served as an associate clinical professor at the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2002, Dr. Bellhorn received the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Auburn. He co-founded the Central Florida Academy of Veterinary Medicine and was a member of the Florida VMA. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn, two sons, and four grandchildren. 

’74 Dr. John Wesley Ratliff, Jr., 69, died March 21, 2017. He grew up in Bakersfield and Tupelo, also attending a military academy in Tennessee, before graduating from Tupelo High School. He attended the Jefferson Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Mississippi State University before earning a DVM from Auburn University. He opened a practice in Wiggins, Miss., and later assumed full ownership of the practice, tending to large and small animals for Stone County residents for nearly 40 years. Dr. Ratliff retired from active practice in 2014. In addition to his love for animals, he was well known in the state through his work with 4-H and the Mississippi High School Rodeo Association. He also contributed his time and effort to the formation of the Stone County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He is survived by two children and three grandchildren. 

’79 Dr. Donna L. Dutton, 62, of Lawrenceburg, Ky., died Dec. 20, 2016. She owned a small animal practice in Kentucky’s Anderson County for several years. She is survived by her husband, Clayton Weber, two daughters and a son, and a grandchild. 

’87 Dr. Michael Patrick Stitzel, 57, of Melbourne, Fla., died June 3, 2017. Dr. Stitzel earned an undergraduate degree in animal science from the University of Florida and the DVM from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation, Dr. Stitzel established the Melbourne Animal Hospital and practiced there until 2000. He fought a courageous battle with a chronic medical issue for nearly 20 years. He is survived by his wife, Susan; two daughters; his parents; and extended family.