Long-time Geneseo veterinarian and community supporter Dr. David Rash, 74, died after a short battle with cancer on March 10.


Long-time Geneseo veterinarian and community supporter Dr. David Rash, 74, died after a short battle with cancer on March 10.

Originally from Chicago, Rash and his family moved to Geneseo when he was 13.

“I?had a love of animals, but when we lived in Chicago, we couldn’t have pets in the home we were in,” Rash said in a 2010 interview with the Republic. “When we came to Geneseo, we first got a kitten, and then a dog. It was a big thrill.”

As a child, Rash said he had his heart set on raising and training dogs. “As I got older, I realized I could use my brain for more than just raising dogs,” he said.

Rash earned an undergraduate degree from the?University of?Illinois before staying on to receive his veterinarian’s degree. He became a veterinarian on June 18, 1960.

Rash was one of the earliest students to graduate from the veterinarian program at the University of Illinois.

“The first class graduated in 1952 and we came to the school four years after that,” said Dr. Harley Schnowske of Cambridge, a vet school classmate of Rash’s.

“(Rash)?was an outstanding student. He was devoted to veterinary medicine,” said Schnowske.

Veterinarians from the Class of 1960 remained close and would meet annually for reunions.

“When our reunions started, we would usually go to the home location of one of our classmates and they would set up an agenda for the week,” said Schnowske.

Eventually the reunions expanded to include additional locations.

“Dave set one up where we all went to England,” remembers Schnowske. As part of the trip, the vet-school classmates visited Thirsk, the home village of veterinarian and author Dr.?James Harriot who wrote “All Creatures Great and Small.”

“We were a close class. A lot of the members showed up for (Rash’s) visitation and funeral,” said Schnowske.

At the time of his death, Rash was one of only two graduates from the 40-person class not retired and still working as a vet.

Last year, Rash marked his 50th anniversary as a veterinarian.

“There’s a joy I get from being able to help an animal,”?Rash said at the time. “The advantage of working is you don’t know you’re getting older ... of course, the disadvantage is it makes the time go by so quickly.”

“Dr. Rash had such honesty and integrity,” said Atkinson veterinarian Dr. Carl Brinkmann. “He was somebody I could refer animals to for a second opinion.”

Brinkmann said he would periodically stop by Rash’s Geneseo Animal?Hospital on Ogden “just to catch up and talk shop.”

“I’ll miss that,” said Brinkmann. “(Rash) was from a generation that saw other veterinarians as colleagues. Too often in this day and age, other veterinarians are looked upon as competitors, not colleagues. Dr. Rash was never like that.”

Brinkmann’s wife, Charlotte, knew Rash and his wife, Louise, first.

“She used to babysit for their children and her brothers worked for him in his clinic walking dogs and such while they were in high school,” said Brinkmann. “He was a friend of the family.

In addition to serving as a local veterinarian, Rash will be remembered for his dedication to his community.

“He represented everything that a Rotarian stands for, “Service before Self,” said fellow Geneseo Rotarian Bob Orsi.

Rash was a 45-year member of the Geneseo Rotary Club.

“It’s very unusual to be a 45-year member. Not many people stay in that long, but he continued to be an active Rotarian,” said Orsi.

“He’ll be remembered for his sense of humor and his upbeat personality,” said Orsi.

Each year, the Rotary Club awards two $1,000 scholarships to local high-school seniors. Rash served on the club’s scholarship committee for 20 years.

In honor of his long-time commitment to the club, Geneseo Rotarians decided to name one of their scholarships for Rash.

“He was aware we’d decided to do that, and he was very honored,” said Orsi. The first Dr. David M. Rash Rotary?Scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior later this spring.

“It’s a fitting tribute to him,” said Orsi. “He was 100 percent committed to his community. I?can’t think of many other people that committed.”

“Geneseo is going to miss him. He was quite involved in a number of activities and he believed he needed to be involved in the community he lived in,” said Brinkmann.

Among other activities, Rash was known for appearing with animals in Victorian?Walk windows and installing signs with catchy phrases supporting the Geneseo Green Machine football team during its regular playoff runs.

“My wife said the first time we met, the two topics I talked about were veterinary medicine and Geneseo,” Rash told the Republic last year.

Many in the community will remember Rash for his appearances in Richmond Hill Players performances.

Rash landed the lead role in the group’s first-ever production, a 1968 staging of “The Miser” and went on to appear in a total of 51 productions, including last summer’s “A Turn for the Nurse.”

“Dave always brought a spirit of laughter and joy,” said long-time Richmond Hill Players member John?VanDeWoestyne.

“He was a professional. He always showed up on time and was always prepared. He led by example,” said VanDeWoestyne.

“(Rash) was very good on stage, and he had a big following,” said VanDeWoestyne.

“It’s the people in the plays that make them special. When you work together, it’s like being on a team, there’s a camaraderie,” explained Rash last year. “I’ve had a lot of fun.”

It’s that sense of fun others remember about Rash.

“He always liked to tell jokes or funny stories. They were always kind of dry. He had his own unique type of jokes,” said Brinkmann.

“We were with him 12 hours before he died, and he was still joking and giving me a hard time. That’s just how he was,” said Brinkmann.

He added, “It was hard to believe they weren’t giving him long to live. His mood was good and he was in good spirits. He knew this thing was going to take him, but it wasn’t going to beat him. He knew he was going to a better place.”