Dr. Mack Setser is a man who was very dear to us at Junaluska Animal Hospital.
Dr. Setser was a native of Macon County, NC, and served his country as a US Marine in the Pacific theater during WWII, participating in the second founder-wave attack on the Tarawa. Just prior to his departure for the war, he had started dating his future wife, Beulah, then a student at Brevard College. After finishing his undergraduate studies at North Carolina State University, the two had begun dating, with chaperones, of course, when the attack on Pearl Harbor changed their lives. Dr. Setser enlisted in the US Marines the day after Pearl Harbor and did not see Beulah again until after the war. They were married shortly after his return and Dr. Setser worked as an agent for the Farmers Home Administration in the mountains of western North Carolina. During that time, Dr. Setser applied to and was accepted to veterinary school at the University of Georgia, graduating in 1950. The Setsers wanted to come to Haywood county at that time, but another veterinarian, Dr. Burnsides, had started a practice here and there simply was not enough work for another vet at that time. The Setsers moved to Burnsville, NC, where Dr. Setser practiced for 3-4 months. By then, Dr. Burnsides had decided that Haywood County was not for him, and Dr. Setser purchased his fledgling practice and moved to Lake Junaluska.
In 1953, Dr. Setser’s business was primarily taking care of the over 100 dairies in the county. Almost every rural family also had their own milk cow, and many draft horses and mules were still used for plowing and transportation. Dr. Setser traveled from Buncombe County west all the way to Bryson City to meet the veterinary needs of the area. For some time, he was one of only a few veterinarians west of Asheville. Dogs and cats accounted for only a small part of rural veterinary practices of the day, and Dr. Setser's original office had only a few cages. It was mainly a place to have a telephone and to re-supply the drugs in his Jeep.
In 1967, Dr. Setser finally took on a partner, Dr. Joe Howell, and they built a brand new hospital at our current location on Asheville Road. It turned out to be a wise choice of sites, being nearly dead center in the county. A short time later, Dr. Howell left Waynesville, and Dr. Setser teamed up with Dr. Frank Enloe, also a Georgia graduate (1960) and they remained partners for over 20 years.
Dr. Setser had a reputation early in his career as being a somewhat “contrary” sort, but as he aged, he mellowed considerably to the man most of us remember as big-hearted, honest, hard-working, insightful, and steady with a hefty dose of “horse sense.” He was a master teller of tales with an easy laugh and a quick wit. His greatest strength, however, was probably his ability to adapt. As the county and the veterinary profession changed, Dr. Setser was eager and willing to change with it. He was, however, reluctant to give up on methods that worked, just to replace them with something that was new. Doc was always active in state and local veterinary association, and served as president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, in addition to being honored as North Carolina Veterinarian of the Year. Dr. Setser was also honored as being instrumental in starting the College of Veterinary Medicine at his alma mater, North Carolina State University.
Those of us who were able to work with Doc Setser count ourselves very fortunate to have been able to learn from such a great mentor and colleague. We will always adhere to the highest standards of the profession that he considered “most honorable,” and we will always strive to treat our co-workers and clients like family. In 2003, just a few years before his passing, we celebrated with Dr. Setser the 50th anniversary of this hospital. He always bragged that he had “hand-picked” his successors and that we were carrying on his practice for him.
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