Brimble Legacy Lives On
single gunshot. It was an event that helped Dr. Bob Brimble make the
decision to become a veterinarian more than 50 years ago.
Not a gunshot wound inflicted on one of his pets, but one that hit his leg
while serving in the military overseas in China during World War II. Instead
of traveling 10 days by pack mule to the nearest doctor, he chose to be
treated by a veterinarian who came to his aid after traveling five days for
cost him a Purple Heart medal, which are only given to soldiers treated by a
physician, but gained Washington State University and the veterinary
profession a skilled and dedicated animal doctor.
But when Bob enrolled in then Washington State College’s veterinary
program in 1945, it was not his first time at the school, nor his first
degree. Bob, Originally from Coulee City, Wash., first attended WSU in 1939
with plans to become a teacher.
during his junior year, sparks flew when he met a girl in chemistry class
named Maryhelen Laney, who was enrolled in the pharmacy program. The couple
dated from then on and in 1942, he graduated from WSU with a bachelor’s
degree in physical education.
Bob had been in the ROTC for four years during college, so after graduation
he entered the Army as an infantry lieutenant and served in China for three
and half years as a liaison officer with Chinese troops during the opening
of the Burma Road. While away, Maryhelen graduated with a bachelor’s degree
in pharmacy in 1943 and worked as a pharmacist in Everett, Wash., for two
years while she awaited his return.
“He was down in the jungle fighting,” Maryhelen said. “I wrote to him every
day, and one time when he got back to camp, he had 100 letters waiting for
him.” When Bob was discharged as a major from the Army in 1945, he and
Maryhelen married that May.
“I do not want to teach,” Maryhelen recalled Bob saying to her soon after he
returned. She asked him what he wanted to do and he said ‘I want to be a
veterinarian,’ and told her of his life-changing experience of injury and
recovery while in China.
Though his decision meant four more years of school, Maryhelen encouraged
Bob to pursue his new career aspirations.
“Don’t always wish you had,” she told him about foregoing his dream of
becoming a veterinarian.
So five months after their wedding, they drove from Ft. Benning Army base in
Georgia back to WSU. Maryhelen worked at Higgins Drug Store in Pullman while
Bob was in school and in 1950, he graduated a second time from WSU with a
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
Since then, Dr. Brimble has spent more than 35 years as an animal doctor. He
has had an amazing career treating both large and small animals while
managing the ups and downs of a highly successful practice.
His experiences range from having his medicine freeze between rushing from
his car to a sick cow in Montana, to being hospitalized for 98 days in
traction with a crushed femur in his leg from an accident that occurred
while trying to treat a horse. He also co-owned the Town and Country Animal
Clinic in Portland, Ore.
“He loved it all,” Maryhelen said, even the “leftover” animals he used to
let his kids, LeAnn and Randy, take home from the clinic when they were
Bob and Maryhelen are retired now, but they have not forgotten WSU and still
recall their life in Pullman very fondly. “WSU was very good to us,”
Maryhelen said. “If it hadn’t been for WSU, we would never have been able to
accomplish what we did.”
To demonstrate their appreciation and love for animals, the veterinary
profession and their alma matter, Bob and Maryhelen have given generous
gifts to the WSU Veterinary College. As Benefactors of Washington State
University, the Brimbles will establish a significant
endowment to repair, maintain, replace, and purchase much needed equipment
that will advance and benefit small animal medicine teaching and research.
“Animals were certainly a big part of our life, and they are for a lot of
people,” Maryhelen said. “This seemed like something we could do to give
back.” Dean Warwick Bayly, echoed the sentiment, “This gift could not have
come at a better time and given the current legislative and budget
situation. A gift like this is especially meaningful as it provides the
college with the security of knowing that the funding for equipment needs to
enhance teaching and research will continue to be a priority for donors.
“Support like this allows the college to maintain the level of excellence
in teaching and research our students and constituents have come to expect.
Bob and Maryhelen’s foresight is a good example of the values and commitment
that are representative of the veterinary profession. For this, we are