Hall of fame honors beef and dairy veterinarian pioneers

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Two distinguished veterinarians – Don Williams, D.V.M., and Elmer Woelffer, D.V.M. – have been inducted into the Cattle Production Veterinarian Hall of Fame (CPVHOF), recognizing their exceptional contributions to the practice of veterinary medicine in the beef and dairy cattle industry.

CPVHOF was established in 2011 to recognize the rich traditions of production veterinary medicine and honor the distinguished individuals who have made lasting contributions to the profession. It is sponsored by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC), Bovine Veterinarian, Merck Animal Health and Osborn Barr.

“Drs. Williams and Woelffer are role models for all of us, and we are honored to induct them into the hall of fame,” said Rick Sibbel, D.V.M., director of beef technical services for Merck Animal Health, who served as emcee of the induction ceremony. “Their vision, standard of excellence and ability to make a difference in the beef and dairy veterinary community is something we can all aspire to.”  

The new inductees were honored at the AABP Annual Conference and were selected by their peers, including members of AABP and AVC.

Dr. Don Williams – Beef Inductee
Dr. Don Williams developed the first national preconditioning program and was instrumental in developing large-scale cattle health programs, training initiatives for feedyard personnel and science-based animal health management protocols. He also has been an independent cattleman throughout his career.

“I’m very grateful for this award, and nothing could mean more to a person who has spent his life in the beef cattle industry,” Dr. Williams said, who also reminisced about the growth and success of AABP since its first annual meeting in 1969. “It’s a special honor to be recognized by my peers, and especially meaningful when you get to be late in your years.”

His award was presented by Dee Griffin, D.V.M., of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, who noted that Dr. Williams was his father’s veterinarian. “Dr. Williams shaped my enthusiasm for beef cattle, and was the first person I knew to focus on beef cattle production management and the need for veterinary medicine.”

A Texas native, Dr. Williams received his veterinary medical degree from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. After 18 years of private practice in Texas and Oklahoma, he served as company veterinarian for Hitch Enterprises in Guymon, Okla., and later moved into feedyard management for the Henry C. Hitch Feedlot.

He served on the organizing board of directors and as president of AABP, was a founding member of AVC and served as president of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. During his career, Dr. Williams also received the AABP Award for Excellence in Beef Preventive Medicine and the Amstutz-Williams Award.

Dr. Williams is retired and lives in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Dr. Elmer Woelffer – Dairy Inductee
Honored posthumously, Dr. Woelffer was considered by many to be the father of bovine reproductive programs. He integrated sound scientific principles into reproductive programs and authored “Cowside Practice,” a herd-health column in Hoard’s Dairyman, for more than 30 years.

“Dr. Woelffer was a friend, colleague, mentor and truly a veterinarian’s veterinarian who had a great love of dairy cattle,” said Randy Pedersen, D.V.M., a private practitioner from Royal, Neb. “Our profession and the livestock industry have all benefited from his contributions. His legacy is truly remarkable and he has set the bar high for us to follow.”

Dr. Woelffer grew up on a family farm in rural Wisconsin and earned his veterinary medical degree from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, he worked as a farm manager and veterinarian for H.P. Hood & Sons and Pabst Farms. He then entered into private practice in Oconomowoc, Wis., focusing on theriogenology until his death in 1995. 

Dr. Woelffer was one of only 14 professionals to be named an honorary member of the Klussendorf Association, considered to be the hall of fame of dairy cattle exhibitors. He was an honorary lifetime member of AABP and received numerous awards during his career, including the AABP Award for Excellence in Dairy Preventive Medicine and the Amstutz-Williams Award.                                                                   

Greg Thomas, grandson of Dr. Woelffer from Beverly, Mass., shared memories of his grandfather during the awards event, noting that he had followed in his footsteps by also earning a degree from Cornell University. “I hope you are as inspired as I have been by Dr. Elmer A. Woelffer, affectionately known by family and friends as Daddy Doc,” said Thomas. “He lived a very rich and full life, advanced the field of veterinary medicine and, even in his 80’s and 90’s, inspired a boy who, now a man with his own family, hopes to pass on a bit of his legacy.”


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