Dr. Charles “Chuck”/”Charlie” Uecker, D.V.M.: 1925-2012
Funeral services for Dr. Charles F. Uecker, 87, long-time Hettinger Veterinarian were Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the Hettinger Lutheran Church with Pastor Kathleen Dettmann officiating. Burial with Full Military Honors followed at the Hettinger Cemetery.
Dr. Charles “Charlie/Chuck/Doc” Uecker, age 87, passed away peacefully Dec. 1, 2012 at Western Horizons Care Center, Hettinger, ND, where he had lived for the past eight months. Though incapable of speaking during his last hours of life, he was able of have communion with his family before his death.
He was born Aug. 22, 1925, in Dickinson, ND, to Theodore, Sr., and Nanette Conner Uecker. Charles helped support his family during the depression by starting to work at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Dickinson at age 9. During the summers, he worked at various ranches including the HT Ranch south of Medora.
At age 17, Charles enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He served as a private first class with the 5th Marine Division, Company D, Second Battalion, 27th Regiment, which was one of the units that spearheaded the invasion of Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, during WWII. Only 94 of the 248 men of his company survived the invasion. Charles was honorably discharged May 8, 1946, and received a Presidential Citation for his military service.
After Iwo Jima, he was assigned to help care for Japanese Cavalry horses during the American occupation of Japan. There Charles was influenced to become a veterinarian by a Japanese Cavalry Officer. Upon returning from the military, he attended undergraduate college at Dickinson State University and Montana State University and then went on to earn his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1954.
Charles married Edna L. Bentz on Feb. 19, 1950, in Dickinson and they moved to Hettinger, ND, after graduation from Colorado State.
In 1961, he opened the West River Veterinary Clinic, which was the first accredited large animal veterinary clinic in North Dakota. He served on the North Dakota Board of Animal Health, the North Dakota State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and held all state offices of the North Dakota Veterinary Medical Association, including president. He served as a delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association and was a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Veterinary Medical Association. In 1985, Charles was chosen North Dakota Veterinarian of the year. During his career, he published a number of articles in professional journals, and was a guest speaker for topics related to large animal surgery and medicine at area/state and national professional meetings. After retiring from regular practice in 1993, Charles worked for the State of North Dakota as the State Veterinarian in 1995 and again in 1997.
Active in the Hettinger Lutheran Church, Charles served at times in most of the church offices and taught Sunday school several years. He was a Boy Scout Leader and was active with the Hettinger Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, American Legion, and the Dickinson Elks.
Chuck led a very active life. He loved the outdoors, hunting pheasants, ducks, and geese and would be out with his dogs and friends almost every day of the hunting season. He enjoyed reading, especially history. He built one of the largest model railroad lay outs in North Dakota in the basement his home. He loved planting and gardening and was awarded the Outstanding Agriculturists Award from NDSU in 1993.
He was a great father and devoted husband, still writing love notes to Edna several months before his death. Charles and Edna took care of their severely disabled daughter, Sherida, at home for 35 years. He will be remembered for trying to get the family interested in hunting, horseback riding, camping, gardening, and cleaning the horse barn. He was also known for having lots energy and drive, a great sense of humor, the gift of gab, and screaming during horror movies to scare the kids.
Charles is preceded in death by his parents, Theodore Sr. and Nan Uecker, sister, Betty Nan Watson and daughter, Sherida.
He is survived by his wife Edna, daughter Korliss (Jerry Grossman), son, Jonathan, grand children Elijah Uecker, Katya Grossman, and Gabriel Uecker, brothers, Ted (Nancy), and Jack (Clover), and numerous nieces and nephews.