19 June 2010

When Paths Meet. A Fathers Day Tribute 2010.

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber

Elderly and frail, but sharp of mind, every time I came in the door for a visit with Julina Sexton Klaiber, nearly 100 years of age, she would tell me the same story. "I remember your father. He was just a kid...came out here to doctor the cattle. Why I knew he was just a youngster and couldn't know much. But he saved the cow [chuckle]. He had schoolin and done a real good job."

It was 1950 and thus began a relationship that would entwine both families lives and go on for generations. John Geer Martin was a graduate of the Veterinary School at Ohio State University and had been invited to Boyd County, Kentucky by Henry Riekert to set up a practice. John Henry Klaiber had an established dairy, one of the bigger operations in the county. This compiler was an infant and the Klaiber son, James David was 3 years old.

As a child I always tagged along with my father on his country call rounds. Even when small it was my job to carry his black medical bag and open the many gates that lead up the lanes throughout northeastern Kentucky. Nicknames were and are very popular in our neck of the woods. I was crowned mine by Claude Groves the first time I got on his bus in 7th grade. I was greeted with "Well if it ain't Little Doc." Jim would be dubbed "Brother James" when we attended high school together.

Many country calls were made up Long Branch Road. My father writes in his publication Never a Ho Hum Day about being kicked by a cow and keeping the boot on to continue his day before cutting it off that night and facing a broken foot. That accident happened in the Klaiber barn that stands on our property today.

Packing the cattle records away, that were stored in the old milk house, certificates fluttered out that were signed by both my father John Geer Martin and John Henry Klaiber. Among my genealogical treasures I have a Rabies certificate with both names, as well. And that was the bond between our fathers.

John Henry Klaiber took great pride in his farm and was always alert to new technology. He was one of only a handful of farmers that was willing to accept veterinary medicine by letting go of home remedies and witchcraft treatments of animals that was prevalent in the early years of my father's practice.. The health of his herd was testament, and a visual that helped Martin Veterinary Practice grow into one of the best in Kentucky at that time.

John Henry Klaiber was the youngest son. He played football at Boyd County High and when the war came he stayed home to care for the family farm. He loved this land and knew every blade of grass.

John Henry fulfilled his childhood dream. The family farm had been splintered by family inheritance. His vision was to make sure the farm stayed in tact. Slowly he purchased back the rights from aunts and uncles and built a dairy herd that withstood the diseases seen in other areas. John Henry Klaiber also loved a good joke. He was known for a few tales that are dubbed golly whoopers followed by the Klaiber laugh.


John Geer Martin also had a dream. He always loved animals, especially a horse. He volunteered during World War II and flew cargo over the Hump. Even while in flight animals were on his mind as he saw the mules shipped over to help build the roads. He fulfilled his childhood dream to become a veterinarian when the war was over. His love of an aircraft would continue throughout his life. He became an Instrument instructor. I inherited his love of writing. He would write four books before his death that chronicle his dreams and life. With a gruff exterior and a heart of gold the man loved every small and large creature that God created.


Both men worked from before sunup until sundown and sometimes by the light of lanterns. Both men instilled their work ethics and the need for goals in their grandsons. Neither met their great grandchildren but would have adored them. As I write this I know these children and future children will have those values and the family will grow and learn from the stories these two wonderful men left behind. A little golly whooper and Klaiber laugh won't hurt either.

John Henry Powell Sexton Klaiber 1911-1995
John Geer Martin 1924-1999

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