AAEP 2010: Raker to Receive 'Beyond the Call' Award

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) paid tribute to prominent mentor and surgeon Charles Raker, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, with the Sage O. Kester "Beyond the Call" Award for his widespread contributions to the equine veterinary community.

The highest honor bestowed by the AAEP, the award is reserved for members who have helped shape the practice of equine veterinary medicine today. Raker, the second-ever recipient of the award, was honored during the President's Luncheon, held Dec. 7 during the 2010 AAEP convention.

Recognized as one of the most respected educators in the equine veterinary community, Raker has profoundly influenced the careers of his students and veterinary colleagues. Raker's surgical expertise led to the development of many medical and surgical procedures that improved the quality of life for his patient, the horse. At the age of 90, Raker continues to influence the future of equine veterinary medicine as the chair emeritus of the Opportunity Scholarship Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Raker graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine as class valedictorian in 1942. After eight years in private practice, he returned to his alma mater to lead the department of surgery and large animal clinic. His reputation as a world-class surgeon and instructor helped to revitalize the clinic and spurred the development of UPenn's New Bolton Center.

As chief of surgery, Raker distinguished himself as an expert in surgical techniques of the upper respiratory and joints. In addition, he assisted Jacques Jenny, DrMedVet, with procedures and research that established fundamental techniques for the surgical repair of equine fractures. In the 1950s and 60s, Raker was invited to deliver lectures on equine surgery at veterinary schools across the country, as well as the earliest AAEP educational meetings. His foresight of developments in veterinary education led to his becoming a founder, diplomate, charter member, and president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

An enthusiastic teacher and humble colleague, Raker's resounding mantra throughout his career has been to "put the benefit of others before self." Even today, Raker is eager to encourage and counsel the talents of his students and colleagues. During an era when women were an extreme minority in large animal veterinary medicine, Raker supported the careers of many female veterinarians and interns, hiring the first large animal surgery clinician in America. With his fervor for teaching, Raker propelled countless skilled veterinary students to successful careers in equine medicine. Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS; Midge Leitch, VMD; Scott Palmer, VMD; Harry Werner, VMD; Sue Dyson, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, FRCVS; Catherine Kohn, VMD; and Bill Moyer, DVM, are among those who count themselves fortunate to have received mentorship under Raker.

Since joining the AAEP in 1956, Raker has served on the Executive Committee as director-at-large and as a member of the Ethics and Membership committees. He was the recipient of the AAEP's Distinguished Educator award in 2000. In addition, he received the 1998 Bellwether Medal for Distinguished Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1977.

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