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Dr. Sam Woods

College of Veterinary Medicine alumnus

Dr. Sam Woods, 91, graduated from Auburn's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1945. Today he lives in Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne, Fla. Dr. Woods distinguishes himself as the only veterinarian living to shake hands with Dr. Charles Allen Cary, the veterinary college's first dean and founder. Dr. Cary helped establish the Department of Physiology and Veterinary Science at Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1892, and in 1907 he established the College of Veterinary Medicine, was made state veterinarian and organized the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Cary extended veterinary medicine at Auburn to statewide programs affecting human and animal health including the prevention and control of animal diseases such as tuberculosis, Texas tick fever and rabies.

1. You earned your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1945. Did you remain in veterinary medicine throughout your career?

I have had two wonderful jobs in my life. I practiced in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with my father and with the military for 35 years. I joined the Tennessee National Guard as a private in 1937 and I retired as a colonel in 1981. I was the first veterinary officer in the Air National Guard in the United States to make colonel. When I was not on duty, I was practicing in Murfreesboro.

2. How did you get the opportunity to meet Dr. Cary?

My father, Dr. Sam Woods Sr. (Kansas City Veterinary College, 1913), trained race horses, specifically pacers, at the fairgrounds in Murfreesboro. One day I was with my father, around 1927, and he said to me, "Son, stay close to the stables today because we are going to have a very important person visit us." Later in the day, a stranger drove up and my father called me over to meet Dr. Charles Cary, dean of the vet school. I shook hands with Dr. Cary. I may be the only veterinarian living who has had the privilege of shaking hands with Dr. Cary.

3. What do you recall most about Dr. Cary?

What I remember about this meeting is Dr. Cary had a much nicer car than we did. I think he had a big Hudson and we had a Model-T Ford.

4. What is one of your favorite memories from your veterinary career?

One day I had a hard day at work and I went to bed early. About 11 p.m., the phone rang and a farmer about 20 miles from my home said he had a sick mule and asked if I would come to see the mule. Of course I said I would. When I got to the farm, four men met me and offered me a drink. I said, "Wait 'til I see the mule." One of the men said, "Doc, don't get mad at us. We don't have a sick mule. We bet you would not come up here at this time of night." Well, I cannot tell you what I said, but you can bet I had to have a drink after that.

5. Are there others in your family with Auburn ties?

I have been married to the most wonderful lady for 71 years and we have traveled the world. She was Dean (Zebulon) Judd's secretary (College of Education) in 1942-43. We have two wonderful children, both of whom went to Auburn, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Recently, I went to the first Auburn Club held at Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne. We had 14 Auburn fans and we plan to meet again in the fall by the time the snow birds are back.

June 25, 2012