Equine Surgeon, New Bolton Center Founder Raker Dies

Charles W. Raker, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, one of the founders of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's (Penn Vet) New Bolton Center, died peacefully on Feb. 16. He was 93.

He was born on July 7, 1920, and grew up in Daylesford, Pa. He graduated from Penn Vet in 1942 and spent eight years in private practice following graduation. In 1950, he took a position of assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Penn Vet to boost its livestock and large-animal curriculum.

Raker was appointed chairman of the then department of surgery in 1956. In 1967, three years after the construction of the school’s first large-animal hospital on the New Bolton Center campus, he was the recipient of the Lawrence Baker Sheppard Endowed Chair in veterinary surgery—the first in the nation and funded by Hanover Shoe Farms, the famous Standardbred breeding and training facility in central Pennsylvania.

Raker was a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, an organization he helped found in 1965. Over the years he served as its examination committee chair, chair of the board of regents, vice president, and president.

Raker served as chief of large animal surgery at New Bolton Center for nearly 30 years. In 1985, the Charles W. Raker Chair in Equine Surgery was established principally through the generosity of longtime clients of New Bolton Center, Mr. and Mrs. Hardie Scott and augmented by alumni. It is held today by Dean W. Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, chief of New Bolton Center’s section of surgery and a beneficiary of Raker’s teaching and mentoring expertise.

“The greatest honor I have had in my career is holding the Charles W. Raker endowed professorship here at Penn Vet," Richardson said. "To hold a position named after a person so widely admired is an inestimable privilege. He was such a generous and humble man, and one who was so well loved by his clients that it was no surprise to anyone that it took no time at all to get a professorship endowed in his name.”

In addition to honors from Penn Vet, Raker received the American Association of Equine Practitioners' Distinguished Educator Award in 2000, and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons’ esteemed Foundation Legends Award in 2007.

“I loved Dr. Raker so much, as everyone else did," said Gretchen Jackson, a longtime client and supporter of New Bolton Center and breeder and owner of famed Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. "Oh, how he will be missed. There was no one like him.”

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