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UPHA Sallie Wheeler Distinguished Service Award


Jim Taylor presented Dr. George Raque

with the Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award.

(Photo by Jane Jacobs)

(Editor’s Note: The following speech was read by Jane Bennett on
Friday, Jan. 5, 2007 at the UPHA/AHHS Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.)

Tonight for the first time UPHA is bestowing its Distinguished Service Award on two physicians. This may seem a little out of the ordinary but once you hear their stories I think you will agree that they are very deserving of this honor.

The first part of this story is a personal one. As many of you know, during Louisville back in 2001 I was standing on the rail watching my daughter, Tate, show her horse when I collapsed. I had no warning, no symptoms and no idea how my life would change from that moment forward. If it were not for our first award recipient I can honestly say that I would not be here with all of you this evening.

Some of what I tell you tonight comes from the perspective of my family and friends because I was unconscious during the most critical time of my illness.

I was transported to the hospital in Louisville suffering from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Statistically 10 to 15 percent of patients die before they get to the hospital and over 50 percent will die within the first 30 days following the rupture.

After the hospital staff examined me they informed my family that my case was hopeless. They said that it was unlikely that I would survive long enough to get into surgery and if by some miracle I did make it that long I would not survive the surgery. That’s when Dr. George Raque was called in and the miracles began.

I’m told that when he arrived he immediately took charge of the situation, making my loved ones feel more confident that there might be a chance for my survival. His first gift that day was the gift of hope.

Dr. Raque then called in his partner, fellow neurosurgeon Dr. Chris Shields, who performed the operation. His second gift that day was the gift of wisdom. The result of their work is that I’m leading a life that allows me to be a mother to my daughter, a teacher to my students and a friend to many special people in my life. I owe this miracle to Dr. Raque’s inability to say no to my young daughter’s plea to save my life. His third gift that day was the gift of compassion.

George Raque and his wonderful wife, Karen, are no strangers to our industry. They are dedicated horse show parents and breeding farm owners. Their daughter, Katie, began her riding career with Jimmy and Helen Robertson at Rock Creek in 1991. Katie has had several champions such as her junior exhibitor five-gaited horse Prolific Memories and the Youth Road Horse Champion Sweet Lips. He and Karen own property surrounding Jimmy and Helen’s Infinity Stables in Simpsonville where they raise several colts a year.

I thought about how to put into words what a wonderful doctor and human being George Raque is and what kind of a contribution he has made to our industry. What I came up with was just that…words; words like, accessible, kind, responsive, empathetic, professional, sympathetic and deeply caring. Hoppy calls him the “go to guy” when there’s a crisis because he’s always 100 percent available to those who need him whether he is the primary physician or is consulting for a friend.

And he’s had to be. He’s assisted so many of our friends and colleagues like: Bonnie Murray, Chad Cole, Kris Price Knight, Dena Lopez, Frank McConnell, Helen Robertson, Joan Lurie, John Scheidt, Kelsey Price, Laurie Burris, Mark Webster, Mike Spencer, R.H Bennett, Sally Jackson, Steve Wheeler and Travis Higgins.

I’m sure that each of these individuals has their own special stories about how Dr. Raque successfully helped to ease their fears and their pain and then helped them to regain their health and their lives. The distinguished service that Dr. Raque has given to our industry is the gift of health. From where I stand there is no finer contribution than that.

Tonight it is my special honor to offer my heartfelt gratitude and congratulations to Dr. George Raque.

Jim Taylor and Marilyn Macfarlane joined Dr. Margaret McNeese

after she was awarded the Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Award.

(photo by Jane Jacobs)

(Editor’s Note: The following speech was read by Marilyn MacFarlane on Friday, Jan, 5, 2007 at the UPHA/AHHS Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.)

Imagine it’s Friday afternoon. You are having surgery to find out what that knot is you discovered a few months ago. You are just waking up, coming out of the fog and you hear your doctor say, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is you have cancer. The good news is it’s slow growing. See you Monday.”

He walks out. You go home, go to bed and start thinking about dying. The phone rings and it’s your good friend Jane Bennett. “Hey, you have to go to Houston, to MD Anderson. Margaret McNeese will help you. She’s a Saddle Horse girl.” And a Saddlebred girl, she is!

Margaret’s love of Saddlebreds developed from her father, A.G. McNeese. Mr. McNeese came from a long line of horse traders. During the Civil War, the McNeeses were known mule breeders that supplied their animals to the Confederate Army. In 1966, Margaret’s father met Earl Teater and from then on that love of horses was directed to one breed, the American Saddlebred.

Under the guidance of Earl Teater and his son, Edward, Mr. McNeese bred and acquired many champions, including world champion sire and world champion broodmare sire Baron De Bastrop, CH Clover Mist, Merry Commander, First Captain and CH Princess Trigg.

Margaret followed in her father’s footsteps with an impressive show career with such horses as Lucky Discovery, CH Clover Mist, My Cinderella, Oakhill Firefly and her favorite horse Tiny.

Her daughters, Bridget and Catherine McNeese, have been regulars on the show scene with Catherine winning the triple crown in equitation in 1988 and Bridget becoming a reserve world’s champion twice in two different divisions with CH Sue Elegant and Principal.

Clearly Margaret shares her love of Saddlebreds with her entire family, and their commitment to furthering the breed will continue for many more generations. Margaret has approached her involvement with Saddlebreds with the same dedication and passion she has in all areas of her life.

Margaret has always had a desire to care for others in need. She says helping people is a two way street. You receive joy through helping someone else. Her compassion was first shown towards animals and Margaret graduated from Mary Baldwin College thinking she would become a vet. Well, at that time women were not accepted to veterinary school in the state of Texas.

Lucky for us, she did the next best thing; she went to medical school and became a pediatrician. She completed her medical school, pediatrics residency and fellowship at the University of Texas medical branch on Galveston Island. Her fellowship concentrated on abuse of children. She continues to help these souls by taking a faculty position with the University of Texas medical school in her hometown of Houston. It was here that she became a world-renowned speaker, writer and expert in child abuse. She was awarded the Burt Coats Humanitarian Award from the state of Texas for caring for sexually abused children. She attained full professor at the University as well as becoming dean of student affairs admissions. Recently she has been appointed by the governor to the Texas Board of Medical Examiners.

Being in the University of Texas system, she has been able to help many in our Saddlebred family who seek treatment at such places as the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Texas Heart Institute. Through Jane’s efforts, I met Margaret at MD Anderson. She helped me through that medical maze of a hospital.

She explained the disease, and helped understand the options for treating it. She comforted Steve when he was concerned about me and feeling helpless. She made sure I knew that my doctors were good. When I had surgery, she checked on me daily. When I couldn’t stand the hospital food another day, she had a fabulous meal catered to my room including a waiter with a white towel over his arm. She picked me up at the airport, she sent the latest news from the medical journal and she got my test results back faster! She let me talk and she understood. She even took me for a little shopping therapy.

Later, she helped me get a doctor for my mother at MD Anderson. The doctor made me understand it was okay for my mother not to have treatment. My sister, Joyce, moved to Houston, Texas from Charleston, W.Va., to help her daughter fight lymphoma. During their nine months stay, Margaret was invaluable. She found a pediatrician for my niece’s two daughters. She and Catherine got out those medical books so we could learn about lymphoma and came by at 10 at night when she found out the tests were running late. She even loaned us a wheelchair when my niece was too sick to walk but wanted to explore the city. While my sister was there, she had an episode that landed her in the emergency room. They also told her she wouldn’t be able to get into MD Anderson. But they didn’t know Margaret.

Joyce was at MD Anderson the next day. In short order, the tests were done and the results were in. She did not have cancer. She had a bit of a problem but it could wait so she could continue to tend to the everyday necessities, allowing my niece to concentrate on healing.

Well, you can see why I love Margaret. But it’s not just me. Her medical knowledge and unstoppable will have allowed her to guide many in our profession through some of the most difficult times in their lives.

Some of the families she has comforted and advised are: Paul Boone, Paul’s sister, Susan Keating, Rob Tanner, Gib Marcucci, Jeff McClean, Shelley Mehling, Katie Bell, Cash Lovell, Vicki Gillenwater, BJ Carpenter, Ed Teater, Joyce Trent and Tami Evans.

Everyone I called on that list said, “We don’t know what we would have done without Margaret! She was a Godsend.”

If you are lucky enough to know her as Saddlebred family Margaret or Dr. Margaret, she is the same committed, wise, decent lady from Texas who loves the Saddle Horse and her life calling. With grateful hearts we present Dr. Margaret McNeese with the UPHA Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award. And we are proud to say she’s a Saddle Horse girl.


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