If you got 99 years, what would people remember about you?

This world is full of all kinds of people.

Everyone has a purpose.

Some people fully live out that purpose.

And in doing so, they leave a lot of people with special memories and a collective insight as to who they truly were.

I call those types of people extraordinary.

This week, many people remembered the extraordinary life of Doc Wempe, York’s beloved and longtime veterinarian.

He was also a decorated veteran and family man.

He was religiously convicted and interested in promoting continued democracy in the country he loved.

I didn’t necessarily have a personal relationship with Doc Wempe. I was merely a bystander, watching this very interesting man weave his way through many facets of the York community.

I remember he always had a warm handshake, no matter how wrinkled his fingers became.

I remember stirred-up crowds suddenly sitting dead silent during heated debates, as they listened to Dr. Wempe carefully and softly voice his opinion. It didn’t matter how long it took an elderly Dr. Wempe to say what was on his mind – there was never a gavel or a stop watch to say he had spoken too long because everyone respected what he thought.

By the time I knew Dr. Wempe, he was already probably 90 years old. He didn’t walk very fast any longer. And he certainly didn’t drive fast. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw his name listed among the speeding tickets for the week! Granted, it was only a $10 speeding ticket – and that’s a low one, in the world of citations. Knowing Dr. Wempe, he probably accidentally went one mile an hour over the speed limit and then turned himself in.

Since Dr. Wempe’s passing, I have been reading all these comments about this fine man . . . on our website, on social media. Let me share some of these with you . . .

“Such an amazing man. When I was younger, our cat swallowed a screw and was dying before our eyes. We lived in Lincoln and called several vets asking for help. They all wanted $500 up front to do surgery and we were two kids making minimum wage. My mom called Doc Wempe and he told us to come back to York. He charged us $100 after the surgery and let us make payments. He genuinely cared for people and loved animals. He also was a decorated war veteran. Such a sad day for York. He will be greatly missed.”

“Such a sweet, hardworking man.”

“He was always so cheerful. I know he worked hard but he would never complain. He always remembered everybody’s name and their pet’s name. How comforting that was when your pet was ill.”

“What an honorable, passionate, caring man.”

“The first time I met Doc Wempe, I was going to pick up our little dog after being groomed. I couldn’t find anyone in the clinic and I walked into the back. There he was on his hands and knees trying to get a shaking, scared little puppy to eat out of his hand because the puppy hadn’t been eating. That sight began a friendship that was special to me. Doc and I used to love to sit and talk flying and politics. He was a true gentleman and such a kind and trusted man. I will always enjoy my opportunities I had with him.”

“He was one of the veterans on a Nebraska Veterans Honor Flight on which I was privileged to be a guardian. What a fantastic man…he will be rewarded in Heaven for all the good deeds he did here on earth.”

“Dr. Wempe was our animal doc for years, dating back to my folks’ animals and then for our daughter’s horse in the 1970s. I remember following him around at the sale barn and watching him work when I was grade school age. He tolerated me. He was a true gentleman and a dedicated veterinarian.”

There are many more wonderful stories being told around this community, the state and further away, about how Dr. Wempe affected lives and left his mark.

And it makes me ask myself if I live to be 99, what will people remember about me?

People like him make us all ask that question . . . and be inspired.


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