Dr. Mobley was always fascinated by animals and the first career he ever considered was the most obvious way of working with them: veterinary medicine. When he was seven years old, he asked Dr. Milton Tate how one would become a veterinarian. By the middle of second grade, he had already come to hate school, so when Dr. Tate talked about the extra four years of college (after 12 years of school and four years of college), that took veterinary medicine off the table. Four more years of school? Are you kidding? Never, no way. Never is a really long time.
In college, he had no career goals, and after a year of taking “basics” he was lacking in motivation. He had taken a pre-med curriculum because he felt he'd like to spend a lot of money, and doctors make a lot of money. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a good vibe from the pre-med club meetings. The pre-vet curriculum was pretty much the same, and as he talked to my fellow students he decided to re-visit the decision I had made in second grade.
His father had always kept a horse and he realized that he enjoyed working with them and “doctoring” them as much as he did riding. That could be a career choice for him. He started volunteering at the Central Missouri Humane Society, then worked there full time for a summer. He also volunteered at the CVM’s large animal clinic one day a week that summer, and was fortunate to get a job cleaning up and shoveling at the new Equine Center on Middlebush Farm. The more he saw of veterinary medicine, the more he decided it would be my career path.
Once he had the goal in mind, he was pretty goal-directed. He took only two elective courses outside the pre-vet curriculum in those three undergraduate years: Introduction to Drama (he loved theater), and Fencing. The only extra-curricular activity in his college career was the fencing club (He's never carved a “Z” with his blade, but he can).
In 1974, he started veterinary school. It was so much harder than undergraduate college that he couldn’t figure out how he had gotten so dumb over the summer. Fortunately, he was able to develop some study habits and get through the program. One of the best experiences he had during those four years was a preceptorship with Dr. “Bud” Hertzog in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Dr. Hertzog certainly didn’t need a student to help, which was fortunate, as Dr, Mobley certainly wasn’t much help. The two months Dr. Mobley spent in Dr. Hertzog's practice were an act of charity on his part, and Dr. Mobley has never forgotten it. He learned a lot about veterinary practice and people, and has admired his achievements ever since.
Dr. Mobley graduated from the University of Missouri CVM in May of 1978. He had often said that he would never go to Arkansas, but that was where he found his first job. Never is a really long time. Dr. Dwight O. Creach hired him to work in a very mixed practice in Pocahontas, Arkansas on the edge of the Ozark foothills. It was very much an “All Creatures Great and Small” practice, with time divided between small animals in the small clinic and farm calls doing “fire engine” medicine. There was lots of driving in picturesque country with equally picturesque people.
Dr. Mobley delivered lots of calves in the woods and in the snow. Once he hiked up into the hills where there was no road, and the folks lived in a home dug out of the hill side. That’s where he saw a cow with her tail wrapped in the classic dirty white rag denoting a case of “hollow tail”.
Dr. Creach treated me the way you’d want your father to treat you. Dr. Mobley would have taken a bullet for him. Unfortunately, while he was a fine man and a good veterinarian, he was a terrible businessman and practice manager. After a year, he felt he could no longer afford an associate, and had to let Dr. Mobley go. He had paid me too much and charged his clients too little. (He worked himself to death before he was sixty.)
At the same time, an old, established (but very run-down) practice was vacant Dr. Mobley's home town. His father had had a heart attack that year, and Dr. Mobley had been running back and forth to Kennett to see about his father a lot. Even though he was never going back home to Kennett, it seemed that he should do so then, at least for a little while. Never is a really long time.
That was in 1979, and Dr. Mobley re-opened the old run-down practice in September. It had been started in 1949, and the founder’s ex-wife, Roberta Baker, rented him the building and mentored him in ways that he was too callow to appreciate at the time. The woman was a saint. In 1984, Dr. Mobley built a new hospital a few blocks away, and I’m still there (at least for a little while).
Dr. Mobley and his wife Libby have been married nearly 43 years.
"Dr. John Koch was a mentor to me in many ways, always being his go-to guy for orthopedic referrals. In addition to being an outstanding veterinarian and community leader, he was very committed to organized veterinary medicine. He was responsible for getting me involved in our association. He asked me to chair the PR committee for the MVMA and I have enjoyed my service on committees and the executive board. It was a great privilege to get to know and work with the other veterinarians on the board. In the first twenty years or so of my career, our Southeast Missouri Veterinary Medical Association was much more close-knit and I enjoyed the camaraderie shared with Dr. Koch, Dr. David Morris, Dr. Nelson Stone, Dr. Ken White, and many more."
Dr. Mobley has worked with the Boy Scouts for about 20 years, which he like a lot. His fellow Scouters have been kind enough to honor him with the District Award of Merit, Leaving a Legacy Award, and the Silver Beaver award. Dr. Mobley's also been in Kiwanis for 39 years, which is just giving back to the community.
People ask him when he's planning to retire. The answer is that he plans to keep working as long as he can. For him, planning to retire is like planning to die. He's still got some unfinished business, but wouldn’t mind quitting at five some days, though.
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