Southern Indiana Living

NOV-DEC 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Nov/Dec 2018 • 44 A Thoughtful Gift Artist honors veterinarian with handmade plaques D orrel Harrison didn't know Dr. Bill McDonald and his family, but when the Scottsburg artisan learned about the extraordinary life and tragic death of the Hardinsburg veterinarian, he knew he wanted to do something for the McDonald family. After Dr. Bill, 47, died Jan. 29 in an ac- cident at his home, there was an outpour- ing of accounts of the doctor's selfless ser- vice to his community and family. When a friend related some of these stories to Harrison, he was moved to reach out to the McDonalds. That is when he thought about the Luke family and what he had done for them. "Two years ago, I was a Santa Claus to the Lukes in East Hoosick, New York," said Harrison. "Burt Luke, a longtime neighbor in upstate New York, died in the spring of that year. The Lukes had six children and I had all of them in my health classes." Harrison, formerly of Hoosick, retired in 2000 after 33 years teaching and moved to Indiana with his wife, Kathy, to be closer to their son, a UPS pilot. When he heard that his former students had lost their father, Harrison wanted to do something for them — and he knew just the thing. "Shortly after moving to Indiana, I had begun crafting three-di- mensional barn plaques out of recycled wood," he said. That, he decided, would be something the Lukes — a farm family — would like. He created six framed plaques with the siblings' memories of their farm and barn. And just before Christmas, his son took the gifts to New York on a UPS flight. "It was such a blessing to extend my love," Harrison said. So when he was looking for something to do for the McDonald family, Harrison remembered these earlier gifts. "Even though I didn't know the McDon- alds, from what I had heard about them, I decided they would appreciate plaques in Dr. Bill's memory," he said. On May 16, Dorrel and Kathy Harrison met with the McDonalds, and in an infor- mal ceremony, presented plaques that pic- ture the veterinarian clinic, which opened in 1995, shortly after Bill McDonald grad- uated from Purdue University. "Even without knowing him," Harrison said, he realized from stories of Dr. Bill's dedication to his patients and their own- ers that "the practice and building must have meant a great deal to him. "Every building has a story that con- sists of many hours and activities which take place within its walls," Harrison told them. "I am saddened at your family's loss and no words can express your sor- row and feelings. My prayer is that this tangible framed plaque of Bill's practice will remind you of those special memo- ries (of times) which you were blessed with while Bill was with you." Plaques were presented to Dr. McDon- ald's wife, Lindsay; his parents, Jim and Barbara McDonald; and siblings, Susan Umpleby and Bob McDonald. There was also a plaque for his brother, David Mc- Donald, who was not able to attend the ceremony. The family received the plaques with gratitude and plan to see that each of Bill's children, Jacob, Madelyn and Joseph, will have one when they are adults. Besides being sole owner of McDon- ald Veterinarian Clinic, Dr. Bill was part owner and active in South Central Colli- sion Center, a family-owned operation. He also, with his father and brother, Bob, worked a 1,500-acre beef cattle farm. He served on the local school board; was ac- tive at Paoli Christian Church; and vol- unteered at the Orange County Humane Society, Southern Indiana Animal Rescue, the 4-H Club, Paoli High School FFA and the school's SuperMileage Club. • Story by Sara Combs Photo by Karen Hanger A Season of Giving Pictured: Dorrel and Kathy Harrison, Bob, Barbara, and Lindsay McDonald, Susan McDonald Umpleby and Jim McDonald "My prayer is that this tangible framed plaque of Bill's practice will remind you of those special memories (of times) which you were blessed with while Bill was with you." - Dorrel Harrison

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