GUEST COLUMN: Animal shelter anonymous donor honors Paul and Vernice Culter
By Don Orris
Special to the Jefferson Herald
I had just attended a city council meeting and volunteered my services to join a committee that had been tasked with finding a solution to our present Greene County animal facility. I got a call shortly thereafter from a person who wanted to remain anonymous but be the first to give a substantial donation to get a new animal shelter built. He said he wanted to do it honor Paul and Vernice Culter.
I was born and raised here, but I could not remember Paul Culter. Now that the animal shelter is finally going to become a reality, I have finally convinced the anonymous donor to tell his story.
As a veterinary student, Dr Robert A. (Bob) Telleen had a lab partner, Ray Cullen, who had worked a summer for Dr Wesson, a veterinarian in Jefferson. Ray had already taken employment elsewhere, but he introduced Bob to Dr. Wesson. Bob and his wife Dorothy visited Jefferson and thought it looked like a good place to live. Dr. Wesson invited Bob to join him in his practice.
Dr. Wesson’s office was a small brick building located at 217 North Wilson Street. During these times everyone made do with what they had. House rental property was scarce and Bob moved five times in one year. He used one vehicle for both his practice and the family car. When going on a family trip he would unload all of his equipment from the back seat and then replace it when he arrived back home. He carried water in the car for farm calls.
When Dr. Wesson retired, Bob looked for a better building to rent but they were even scarcer than home rentals. Frank Milligan, of Milligan Lumber Company, told Bob that Paul Culter was building a new building to replace one that had burned down. Paul rented space in the new building to Bob. Even though it was small, it had a nice size room for his surgery. The rent was more than reasonable. It was one of many things that Paul did for a young married man starting a vet business in a small town. Paul and Bob shared close quarters while each running their own businesses. They both took lunch at noon, leaving a sign that read, “Take what you need and leave the money on the counter.” It was an era of tough economic times, trust, helping hands, and a cheerful smile for the next person you met on the street.
Paul’s generosity and kindness helped Bob to succeed as a veterinarian in Greene County. It helped Bob to eventually build a new house, raise a great family, and give back to someone else who needed the help. As a young kid working in Dick and Jim’s hardware store, I remember Bob always smiling, always greeting you happily, and being genuinely interested in each individual.
So, by now you have figured out it was Dr. Bob Telleen who was the first anonymous donor. I am so glad he let me tell this story to honor Paul Culter. There is always someone who has influenced each of us to become the best person we can be. I thank Bob and every donor, big and small, who has helped get this animal shelter to completion. Bob wants all of us to remember Paul Culter and honor him for the difference he made in his and other people’s and animals lives.
Jensen Builders was awarded an $894,900 contract last fall to construct the new Greene County animal shelter. The facility will be owned and operated by the City of Jefferson.
The building, which will also include an adjacent dog park, is being built on land donated by the Greene County Development Corporation at the west end of its business park west of Highway 4, just south of the American Athletic annex building. Construction was delayed in May because the foundation of the building experienced settling issues due to the compaction of the soil, which required correction before proceeding with construction. The building frame that had been erected was taken down. The foundation was stabilized with piers driven into the ground to reach stable soil. An additional six inches of concrete was placed on the top of the existing foundation. The building was then be re-erected. The cost of the repairs will be between the contractor and the soils compaction testing agency. Construction of the building should be completed in late October or early November, Orris said. A grand opening will be held next summer.