By DAWNE LEIKER
ELLIS -- It's a business card like no other. On one side: Father Richard L. Daise, Pastor of St. Mary Parish. On the other: Richard L. Daise, DVM, MPH, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine.
For Kanorado native Richard Daise, a man with a snappy comeback to almost any line, his venture into the priesthood came at an unlikely time, after he served 28 years as a military veterinarian.
He graduated from Goodland High School in 1969 and headed to Kansas State University, where he became a doctor of veterinary medicine.
"And Mr. Nixon did away with student deferments, so I had a job right after graduation," Daise said Wednesday afternoon during a visit with several parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church. "The Vietnam conflict was over, so I didn't have to go.
"And the whole game plan was -- two years in the Army and then I was going to western Kansas or eastern Colorado in the rural practice. ... And I forgot to get out."
Daise delved into every aspect of the veterinary profession in the military, working with an 80-horse riding club at Fort Sill, Okla., a prison farm at Fort Leavenworth, civil affairs and food safety duties during peacekeeping missions abroad.
The army has approximately 400 active duty veterinarians, working in research and development, basic sciences, toxicology, pathology, and laboratory animal medicine.
After his nearly three decades in the military, Daise's career took an interesting turn.
"I'm not very fashion conscious. I couldn't wear a green suit, and I was having trouble dressing, so I figured black would be OK," Daise said with a quick grin.
Daise started seminary in 2006 and was ordained in 2010.
"Ordinarily it's a six- to eight-year course of study, but for older guys, they figured over the course of your lifetime, you've already had a lot of philosophy," he said. "That's the official reason.
"The real reason is they want to get us out and get some work out of us before we croak on them."
"And we're working him to death right now," said Benedict Leonard Schoenberger, joining in with a laugh. Schoenberger is a member of St. Mary Parish.
Daise continues to keep his DVM license current as a means to practice during emergencies and disasters. Plus, he said, "I worked too darn hard to get it, I don't want to give it up."
But he's finding a new niche, leading the flock at St. Mary.
"Until I got this job, being a veterinarian in the army was the best job in the world," he said. "This one's coming a close second."