By: Dr. Fred Van Gorkom, Africa Area Director
Dr Leroy Dorminy, servant-hearted visionary, founder of Christian Veterinary Mission has graduated to glory.
It was my second year of veterinary school. The courses were overwhelming– so much material to cover! Final exams loomed like a mountain range of impossible proportions.
I sat in my little house-trailer, flopped out on a chair, wondering what would happen if I flunked out. At that moment, the Lord impressed on me that it didn’t really matter what career I followed—as long as I followed Him. Who I am is not defined by my work, but by His work. My debt is forgiven, and He daily forgives me. Then He credits Jesus’ righteousness to me, calls this ex-enemy His son (Wow!), and has all power to watch over me as He wishes.
I’m not really Red Head Vet Med Fred. That’s just my name. Who am I? I’m an adopted child of the King, swimming in His grace… So. Incredibly. Good.
But back to vet school. That’s when I heard of Dr Leroy Dorminy, and his God-given vision to use veterinary medicine to share the love of Christ in missions. At a vet conference he asked how veterinarians could help. An African woman answered wisely, “Don’t come to Africa to just treat our animals for us. Come teach us how to treat our own animals.” Combining missions, poverty alleviation and veterinary career. Loving God. Loving people. I love it!
I applied to CVM. They said, “Finish school first, get some experience, then we’ll see.” Leroy had envisioned veterinarians able to leave their practices for a couple weeks at a time, rotating one after the other overseas to fill a full-time role. I talked to my class mates. We’d start or buy a multi-person practice, take turns sending each other out on rotating short-term missions.
But just before I graduated, CVM called. Leroy wanted to send me to Ethiopia for 6 months, even without experience. “It’s a good way to get some!” he said. So one month after graduation, a week of orientation, a brand new passport and arms still sore from vaccinations—I flew out. I had never met Leroy in person. Yet.
My flight landed in New York where Leroy and others were at the AVMA, so I first met him in the lobby of our hotel. He shook my hand warmly, delighted I was headed to Ethiopia. And typical Leroy, he asked if I would please shepherd a new Korean missionary nurse, “Miss Kim” through the next airports on her way to Uganda (where she still serves!)
As 6 months in Ethiopia stretched into 3 years, Leroy came to visit. At that time, I was doing vet clinics every morning in front of a mission house on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Every morning, even before dawn, people would bring sheep, goats, dogs, cattle and donkeys, tie them to eucalyptus trees outside my front gate and wait patiently for Vicki and I to come around and treat them.
Servant-hearted, Leroy always wanted to help! He was always quick to pitch in with twinkling eyes. One time he got into our drug bag when we weren’t watching, and administered full-strength anesthetic to a mule. He didn’t know we always diluted it for horses.
That mule stayed down a long time!! The owner was sure we’d killed it. Leroy was very concerned—we all were. But it eventually got back up, like a Phoenix rising from ashes. The owner was relieved and Leroy was all smiles again. It was one of those close calls that turn out good, that you laugh about for years afterwards.
When we came back to the States every fourth year, Leroy and his wife always took us out to lunch when we visited Seattle on furlough. We’d invariably laugh and reminisce; and Leroy the visionary always had encouraging and challenging thoughts about the way forward.
Leroy also had a global vision to mobilize not only US veterinarians to share the love of Christ at home and abroad, but to also mobilize Christian veterinarians in other countries to do the same. As I travel in Africa, I meet Christian vets who not only know Leroy, but count him a very dear friend. They always ask about him. They call him “father” and “pioneer”.
And by God’s grace, and to His glory, that’s what he was. A God-given legacy.
Privileged to serve with saints like Leroy.
If you would like to share a personal memory of Dr. Dorminy, we invite you to do so here.
And if you would like to remember Dr. Dorminy with a memorial gift, please do so here.