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When Charlie Durbin was a young boy living on his parents’ farm, he knew that he wanted to be a veterinarian. He also knew that he especially wanted to work with cattle.
Last Tuesday evening, Dr. Charlie R. Durbin hosted a community cookout in St.Peter City Park in celebration of 25 years in St. Peter doing just what that little 8-year-old boy dreamed of … and more.
He has served all of Fayette County, including serving 15 years on the Fayette County Fair Board and as the county fair veterinarian, a position he still holds.
Although he has retained his down-home, friendly manner, his name, abilities and reputation are well-respected among his peers – fair officials, livestock judges and handlers, 4-H club members and all who know him as their “vet.”
He is a friend, neighbor and employer, not only county-wide, but also statewide.
A bonus at the cookout was the opportunity for people to meet Olivia Ruolthi, his new associate in the vet clinic, who has had a lot of equine experience.
Meet “Doc” Durbin & Family
Charlie Durbin was at the end of the line, passing out napkins and spoons to his friends and associates who were present to help him celebrate.
Just down the assembly line, serving baked beans, chips, hamburgers and hot dogs were his wife of twenty-three years, Nancy, and their son, Clifton.
He explained his place at the far end of the line, Their daughter, Chelsea, was unable to be there.
Durbin was reared around cows and other animals on his parents’ farm.
Explaining the choice of his life’s work, Durbin said, “I just always wanted to be a vet, from the time I was 8 or 10 years old.
“It was back in 1983, when I started up with Dr. Slingerland in Altamont. Then I opened up in St. Peter in the summer of 1984. They (St. Peter) liked me and I got along good with them, and they wanted me to stay here. I’ve worked a lot with the 4-H clubs in the county.”
“My practice has kind of expanded over the past five years,” he said. “I’ve picked up a lot more feedlots in Southern Illinois, taking care of feedlots as far south as Dongola these days.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with everyone. My favorite animal to work with is cattle,” he said. “Cattle have always been my favorite.
But over the years, a vet’s life has changed, because the livestock numbers have declined in Fayette and surrounding counties, so your number of dairy farms have declined, and the number of swine operations have declined.
“However, the beef cattle have continued to stay about the same. We do have a lot of people that buy cattle, vaccinate them, put them on pasture here in Illinois and then in the fall, they ship them to Nebraska to finish them.”
About the 4-H, the County Fair, changes in general and the future…
“The kids are our future,” he said. “I think the 4-H is going real good, and I think the Fayette County Fair is going good for having the new grandstand.
I’m no longer on the board – 15 years were enough for me. I still am the fair veterinarian.
“The biggest change is the decline in the number of farm animals, simply due to the economy and the fact that people can make a better living doing something else,” he said.
“You’ve seen consolidation of numbers, because you have to raise more to make more money to survive on.
“I don’t think we’ll ever bring livestock back to the way it was, where it was on every farm location. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to that.
“I think we’ll have to kind of look at the future and try to produce livestock, etc., as efficiently as we can, so producers can continue to be successful making money,” he said.
“There are still a few people who have the family milk cow, but not as many as there used to be.”
However, there will always be cattle and other farm animals, thus there will always be a need for Charlie Durbin’s expertise, care and concern for the them and for people’s pets, not only in Fayette County, but beyond.
As he is a busy vet, he is sincerely hoping that his new associate, Dr. Olivia Ruolthi, will stay around for a long time.