Calling parenthood a “wonderful experience,” Kevin McElwee is looking forward to spending time with his family on Father’s Day. A Cartersville resident and veterinarian, he and his wife, Dana, are the parents of two teenagers: Ally, 16, and Kase, 13.
“My family and I will [celebrate Father’s Day by going] to dinner on Saturday night and church at Sam Jones Memorial [United Methodist Church] on Sunday morning,” McElwee said on Thursday. “Some of my favorite gifts are the homemade cards and pictures my kids made for me when they were little. I still have several framed and hung in my office.”
Like many Bartow residents, the meaning of Father’s Day has changed for McElwee over the years — from honoring his father to now also being a dad.
“My father has been and still is a hero to me,” McElwee said. “He worked hard every day, loved my mother and his kids, gave so much of his time to his community and was always liked by everyone. He has a great sense of humor, is honest and honorable in his dealings with others, and loyal to his friends. I grew up wanting to be like him and to make him proud of me. I wanted to honor him every day, not just on Father’s Day, and I try, mostly unsuccessfully, to be the same example to my own kids.
“[Fatherhood] is a wonderful experience, and the Lord has blessed Dana and I with two great children, but being a father is the most challenging job I have had. I try to be like my own father and be calm and patient with my kids, even when I want to be angry. I pray that God gives me wisdom, like I saw my own father do and that the decisions I make will be the right ones.”
Name: Kevin McElwee
Occupation (title): Veterinarian
City of residence: Cartersville
Family: Wife, Dana; daughter, Ally, 16; and son, Kase, 13
Education: Bachelor of Science, West Virginia University; Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia
DTN: When did you join the Cartersville Animal Hospital, and how has your role evolved?
KE: Started upon graduation from veterinary school in 1988 as an associate veterinarian, became a partner and have been the sole owner for the past 10 years. Of course, that means my responsibilities have changed from strictly medical to also involving practice management.
DTN: What drew you to this line of work? When and how was your interest piqued in veterinary medicine?
KE: I grew up in rural farm country, so I was around animals as a kid and enjoyed them. Our family [always] had dogs and cats and the neighboring farms had horses, cows, pigs, etc. that I was around a lot, so I became very comfortable working with them. When I was in eighth grade, my aunt gave me “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot to read and from then on I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. In high school and undergraduate, I worked summers for a veterinarian friend, Dr. Bill Moodispaw, who had a mixed practice in Weston, West Virginia. We would start farm calls at 7 a.m. and finish evening small animal appointments around 8 in the evening.
DTN: What do you enjoy most about owning and being a veterinarian at Cartersville Animal Hospital, and what have some of your favorite or most memorable moments been?
KE: I enjoy talking to people and helping them with their pets. I also enjoy surgery and the challenges it presents. I have had so many memorable moments over the years, but one of the most memorable was the case I helped a colleague with involving a drunk monkey — the teenage kids got into the family’s liquor cabinet and gave him a bottle of vodka — [that] ... had a blood alcohol level of .2. That monkey had a terrible hangover the next day.
DTN: When and why did you join the Cartersville-Bartow County Exchange Club, and what is your current title? Why do you feel it is important to give back to the community, especially through the Exchange Club?
KE: I joined the Exchange Club shortly after moving to Cartersville in 1989 and have been a member ever since. I joined because I liked the people who were members at that time, I believed in the Exchange Club’s mission of preventing child abuse and liked the fundraisers that we do, such as the Christmas Parade. I have been on the board of directors, as president and am now currently serving as the secretary of the club. I learned from my father and mother, who were very involved in volunteer organizations when I was a kid, the importance of giving back to the community where we live and that has been so good to our family. I really believe in working with youth and [the] Exchange — with its focus on children’s charities, such as ... Advocates, Boys & Girls Club, Bartow Christmas and Etowah [Scholarship] Foundation — is a perfect vehicle to do that. In addition, I work with the Boy Scouts on both the local level, most recently as Cubmaster of Pack 15 and now as chaplain of Troop 15, and on the Northwest Georgia Council level as a member of the executive board.
DTN: What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?
KE: I think being elected to serve as the president of the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association was one of the things I was most honored to do professionally. Personally, my greatest achievement was meeting and marrying my wife, Dana, and being the father of Ally and Kase.
DTN: If you were not in your line of work, what would you like to do?
KE: I think I would be working in a medical research lab somewhere. I was very interested in microbiology and chemistry in school, so I was always intrigued by the work done at the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other such labs around the country.
DTN: How would you describe yourself in three words?
KE: Hard-working, fun-loving, loyal — just like a golden retriever.
DTN: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
KE: People that don’t know me might be surprised to know that I am a diehard WVU Mountaineer fan — my undergraduate school. Mountaineer football in the fall is something that I am very passionate about.
DTN: What is the best advice you have ever received from your father, and what is the best advice you have given your children?
KE: To be a person of honor and when you say you will do something, do it. Love God and love others, even when they are not treating you well. That one I am still working on, but I’m getting better all the time.
DTN: What do you like to do in your spare time?
KE: Volunteer with the
DTN: Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
KE: My property on Richards Road has a hill I like to sit on and look up the valley. It is very peaceful.