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Happy Trails with Dawni O'Bryan: My Uncle, Dr. Richard Fell


By Dawni O'Bryan

January 19, 2024

In the ranching and rodeo world, one thing you can be sure of is the love and compassion that the men and women in this industry have for their animals. For one, these animals can be worth a lot of money and it behooves them to take great care of them. Secondly, there is often a sentimental fondness for such animals, as well. That being said, a veterinarian becomes a very close and trusted friend to ranchers and rodeo folks, alike. Veterinarians take many after-hours calls and do a lot of listening to clients that are distraught with an animal situation.

On January 5th, southeast Colorado and western Kansas horse owners lost a trusted friend and expert horse veterinarian. On January 15th, a wonderful tribute to the life of Dr. Richard Fell was held at the United Methodist Church in Holly followed by luncheon at the Holly Community Center. Despite horrible cold and snow, over 200 people came to pay their respects.

Dr. Fell was born in Cheyenne Wells and grew up north of Kit Carson. He attended Lamar Community College on a music scholarship and received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University. He was encouraged to attend vet school by my dad and then was employed at Eaton Veterinary Clinic after his graduation. The two brothers-in-law became great colleagues and friends. He married Judy Kuharic and graduated from K State the same day. Talk about packing it in. Dr. Fell and Judy went out on their own in 1976 by setting up practice in Holly, close to the thriving Gateway Downs. He worked the racetrack circuit in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and New Mexico, while taking care of his clients at the Holly headquarters in the off season. His children, Monica, Mia, and Harrison put together a slide show and spoke of their dad at the service that saw not one dry eye in the place.

My Uncle, Dr. Richard Fell

He was a depiction of Grandpa Harrison that I never got to meet
His half of Grandma Ruth was probably what made him so sweet
He loved his three sisters Marilyn, Vera, and Donna
Growing up as a teen in the Hugoton, KS sauna
Later he married Judy and had nearly 52 years of wedded lovin’
Through this union, came three buns in the oven
Monica, Mia, and Harrison were the apples of his eye
This kind of love he had for his family, one cannot buy
Uncle Richard was a sports guy and loved watching them all
This faithful Wildcat fan lit up when the Salisbury and Eaton boys would touch the ball
Following his grandkids in their activities brought him much joy
Family was always important, amplified when he lost his dad as a young boy
He was loved at the racetracks by jockey, owner, and trainer
In this area, we barrel racers were the gainer
Of his knowledge, compassion, and expertise
The lameness puzzle he put together piece by piece
He was often accused of being a workaholic
“Judy, I know it is nine at night, but I have to check the colic.”
With Candy by his side, they picked up a hoof or two
Making time, squeezing in, the equine friends for me and you
Hammes was his running mate, Dr. Dwain was his pal
Everyone so loved him and Judy was his gal
I hate this day is here, but Jesus has wide open arms
He is now the honorary vet at heaven’s horse farms
We don’t say good-bye, but we’ll see you later
I can still hear his jovial laugh that I never saw greater.

Happy Trails.

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