Rick Cooper

Rick Cooper is a good friend. We were classmates in veterinary school and shared four years of the good, the bad and the ugly of being a student. When I think of Rick, I reflect on how we all need to look at people’s strengths and sometimes exhibit a bit of patience. I don’t think Rick would mind if I share a story about him.

During our freshman year of school at Iowa State we were faced with many challenges. Not the least of which was a course load that most of us weren’t really anticipating. Anatomy alone introduced us to a number of new terms that was the equivalent of becoming fluent in three and one half foreign languages. We were also faced with professors with high expectations and varying degrees of patience. We had a histology professor who was especially demanding. He had written the textbook we were using and was known to be a challenge to say the least. In respect, I must add that he was tough but made us better students and prepared us well for our profession. Rick was balancing a young family in addition to his studies. As the semester wore on it became very obvious that he was in danger of flunking the course. We all studied together and he passed but just barely. Unfortunately, the school had a rule that our grade point had to exceed a certain level by the end of our sophomore year or you would be dismissed. Rick continued to work hard but was in danger of being below the required level as we approached the final exams of our sophomore year. We all studied very hard and much of the focus was on Rick’s performance. I will never forget walking over to school with him to check on our posted grades. We both celebrated when we saw he did great and was in no danger of being dropped.

After that year we entered into the more clinical part of our education. That meant that it was more practical in terms of what we would be doing the rest of our careers. At that point, the guy that had struggled for a couple of years suddenly became one of the best at everything. He had a way with animals of all sizes and shapes and was someone you could always count on for an answer.

Today Rick is a successful hospital owner in Iowa and treats his clients to great medical care for both farm animals and house pets. We still catch up from time to time and I often think of how the profession would have missed out if the sophomore exams hadn’t gone as well.

Congratulations to Rick on a wonderful career and I am proud to call you a friend.

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