Posted 7/03/12 (Tue)
By Olivia Sundeen
Farmer Staff Writer
For some people, spending 45 years doing the same job would be unthinkable.
But for Dr. Bob Nelson, who has spent the last 45 years of his life faithfully serving the veterinarian needs of McKenzie County’s livestock producers, he loved every day.
It was in the late summer of 1967, that Dr. Nelson moved to Watford City with his wife, Marlene (Sanford) Nelson.
“I graduated from Minnesota in 1959,” stated Nelson. “I then worked in Minot, Hebron, and Park River before settling in Watford City in 1967 because I liked the area.”
Growing up in southeastern Minnesota, Nelson was surrounded with beautiful trees and colors of green, but Nelson’s heart belonged in western North Dakota.
“Nothing begins to compare to the prairies,” stated Nelson.
With a background in biology, Nelson had a chance to work in North Dakota testing cattle one summer during his college years.
“That is when I knew,” stated Nelson. “I learned that I liked working with mixed animals. But I love working outside, so the large animals always seemed to be my favorite.”
When Nelson arrived in the McKenzie County area he knew he wanted to start a practice of his own.
“It all started with the idea that I wanted to build a clinic/home,” stated Nelson. “From there it became a reality and continued to grow.”
The last 45 years have established Nelson within the Watford City community.
“Nelson is a fine man,” stated Miles Johnsrud, a member of the Watford City Livestock Association. “Over the years he has made a lasting impression on the community. A hundred people from the area could tell a story about him.”
In addition to western North Dakota’s beauty, the people are what kept Nelson around.
“Don’t get me wrong,” stated Nelson. “Every place I have been has nice people, but western North Dakota has more than its fair share.”
After all this time, on top of the recent hiring of Bruce Pedersen, Nelson agrees it is finally time to retire.
“It is a combination of things, but basically it is time,” stated Nelson. “It is hard, but I am 79 years old. Now that Dr. Pedersen is here I will be able to take the time to relax, spend time with my wife, and follow the grandkids around.”
Last week, the Watford City Livestock Association honored Nelson with a beautiful bronze for his years of dedication to the area’s livestock community.
“We couldn’t say enough of how much we appreciate him,” stated Johnsrud. “We are so glad he kept practicing this long.”
The beautiful and expensive bronze, titled “50 Years in the Saddle,” depicted a man riding his horse holding a rope in the air.
“The bronze reminded me of Nelson and his life,” stated Johnsrud. “The image of this young guy coming to a new town to start a practice that he had to make work on his own and he made it successful. The bronze seemed to say, “go ahead young fellas, but if you miss I’m ready to help.”
As hard as it is to see Nelson hang up his saddle, so to speak, it is even harder for him.
“In life you have to do something,” stated Nelson. “Doing nothing is not an option. It was nice that I was able to do something that I loved. It will be hard to let go.”