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A Legacy of Love

June 4, 2012 — The Kurt Swanson Bucholz Veterinary Science Training Fund supports Department of Veterinary Sciences graduate students and faculty and veterinary medical students who wish to further their diagnostic education.

Specifically, the funds are used to support veterinary science diagnostic externships.  This program selects third- or fourth-year veterinary students from across the U.S. to come to UW for 3-12 weeks for exposure to diagnostic veterinary medicine. The program was founded in 1983 by Beth Williams, internationally recognized UW researcher into wildlife disease.

The fund was established by Laura Bucholz in honor of her husband Kurt, who was a Saratoga rancher, large-animal veterinarian, and Carbon County legislator.

"Kurt always saw the value in rural vet practice," says Laura. "He wanted to encourage more people to go in that direction.  Everyone wants to go to the big city, but there's a demand for large animal vets, and he wanted to steer kids in that direction. The endowment is something he would really be pleased with."

The fund is not only a testament to the Bucholz's dedication to livestock ranching and veterinary science.  It also is the outgrowth of a couple's dedication to one another.

Laura grew up in Texas, where her family has business interests and also owned a large cattle ranch. The summers in Texas were so hot, however, she and her family would come to Old Baldy in Saratoga and stay for a week or a long weekend.

Meanwhile, Kurt was from an industrial family in Omaha. The family came out in the late 40s and 50s to dude ranches in the Saratoga valley and also stayed at the Saratoga Inn.  Kurt's mother Gretchen saw that the XH Ranch was for sale, so she bought it, and from age six Kurt would spend summers on the ranch.

In Omaha, Gretchen would put young Kurt on the train bound for Laramie, showing him to put his finger over the last number on the check to know how much to tip in the dining car.  The ranch manager would pick Kurt up in Laramie and drive over the Snowy Range, with Kurt getting sick from altitude sickness the whole way over.

Then one summer, Kurt and Laura met at Old Baldy.  "We were the only people under 60," laughs Laura.  "We had a long distance romance.  Four dates, and then he proposed."  They were married, and after a brief stint in Nebraska they came back to the XH Ranch to stay. They ranched for many years and had two children, Bessie and John.  Kurt worked as a vet, ranched, and served as a legislator, a job that he couldn't have imagined not having done-he loved serving Wyoming. 

But then, in 2004, tragedy struck, and Kurt was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that refused to respond to treatment. Before he died, he wrote Laura a how-to manual for ranching-"Ranching for Dummies," she jokes. 

"He knew I was panicking," Laura says.  "It is truly a gift. If you read it, you would think Kurt was standing in the room." 

And then, in 2009, Laura established the Kurt Swanson Bucholz Veterinary Science Training Fund in Kurt's memory. "Kurt's legacy and his passion was for water and wildlife.  Wyoming is a better place because of Kurt."

For more information on veterinary science diagnostic externships, go to the UW Departmemt of Veterinary website.

Kurt and Laura Bucholz

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