Dr. Lynn Palmer, Founder
Dr. Lynn G. Palmer was born July, 9th of 1922 in Carthage, New York. Throughout his life Dr. Palmer wore many hats; as a father he raised a fine family, as a patriot he served in World War II and protected his country, and as a citizen he represented the public’s ideals on a wide array of boards and organizations. In some ways he did seem to be a frustrated dairy farmer, as he always found ways to get back into dairy farming after leaving it. But mostly he was a country vet with the firm guiding belief to give the client value for their money, and provide service to a rural population of pet lovers.
As the eldest son of a paper mill worker and a stay at home mother who retired as a school teacher to raise her family, Lynn was always busy. From an early age his chores were tough; chopping wood for their indoor stove and transporting water into the home were daily occurrences. By high school during the Depression he had taken on more responsibilities. Lynn raised anywhere from 300-400 chickens, selling their eggs for 25¢ a dozen and the roosters as broilers. The Palmer family also owned a sugar shack, which they rented out to neighbors. Of course, Lynn was there to help in the process. Their sugar bush had anywhere between 800 and 1000 taps, producing up to 400 gallons of syrup a year which they sold for a dollar a gallon. By the time he graduated from Carthage High School in 1940, electricity had been installed in his family’s home. Plumbing would come two years later when Lynn installed it himself on vacation from college. Lynn’s brother, Nelon tells of his memory of Lynn raising ducks around 1932-1935. “A duck and drake were given to him by a neighbor. Eleven to twelve eggs were hatched and raised to adolescents. They all became ill with a disease that caused their head and neck to be positioned abnormally and they all died”. Nelon speculated that this may have been the start of Lynn’s animal husbandry and the impetus for his veterinary career.
After high school, Lynn worked on a Guernsey dairy in Casterland, NY for one year where he made $35 a month, living with the dairy owners. They had 25 milking cows. The farm’s owner, Mr. Leeward Hershey, had a brother that was a veterinarian, who had just graduated from Michigan State. Dr. Hershey lived in Boonville. Dr. Hershey frequently came to the farm to test the cows for brucellosis which was common at that time.
At the urging of his Vo Ag teacher Lynn applied and was accepted to the Cornell Agricultural College in Ithaca, NY in 1941. On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 he spent the day studying for a chemistry final, in his college room above the poultry lab in Rice Hall. He was receiving free board for working in the lab. He had no idea what was going on in Hawaii until he got to his chemistry exam. He, like many of his classmates, enlisted in the army immediately after taking his chemistry exam on the day after Pearl Harbor. He was called up in the spring of 1943 to serve in the US Army Air Force for two and a half years until 1946. He was trained as a radio operator. He was stationed in Boca Raton, FL and Madison, Wisconsin. He was on a ship heading toward Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped. He did serve in Japan “packing things up” after the bombing. After military service in the Pacific theatre, Lynn returned to Cornell University to continue his education. He received a BS in agriculture and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1950.
At the suggestion of one of his professors, Dr. Stevenson, Lynn took a job with Dr. Robert Brown in Plattsburgh. Dr. Stevenson was Robert Brown’s father in law. He practiced with Dr. Brown for eight years. They took care of every animal that came along. Ether, morphine and pentobarbital were the common anesthetics of the day. Dr. Brown had other assistants previously, but Dr. Lynn was the first to stay and become a partner. Dr. Brown also owned a herd of Ayrshire cows. By 1953 Dr. Lynn was a partner both in the veterinary practice and the dairy farm. They had 15 – 20 milking cows. They built an addition to the existing barn that still stands today along with the poured cement silo (present home of Pickers). In 1957 Mr. Leiberthal bought the farm land and built the North Country Shopping Center. Thus they had a dispersal auction in 1958. Dr. Brown continued as a small animal veterinarian only. The practice, Plattsburgh Animal Hospital is still being run by his grandson, Dr. Tom Brown.
Soon after arriving in town in the fall on 1950 Dr. Lynn stopped at the Farm Bureau office in Plattsburgh. The office was run by Dave Lannigan, and was the precursor to the current Cornell cooperative extension. Mrs. Randall Jennette, the wife of a dairyman, had heard about the young new veterinarian in town. When he appeared to get a road map, she went in the back to get and told her fellow worker, Alice West, to go out front and deliver the map. By Christmas she was wearing his fraternity pin. They were married by Father Dwyer in St. Johns Church in June of 1951.
In 1958, Dr. Lynn Palmer went into business for himself. He purchased the present 6350 State Route 22, large brick building. It had two apartments, the veterinary clinic and kennels, plus a large home for Alice and the 3 children from 1958-1967. With his wife, Alice, they raised his three children Helen, George, and Fred while caring for sick and injured animals. In 1967 they moved their family north on Route 22 to the intersection of it and the Ashley Road, at which Lynn started his own small farm complete with 33 milking Ayrshires, Holsteins, and Guernseys plus twenty black angus and some chickens. Farming was his true passion. He sold the cows in the spring of 1981 but lived in the farm house for the rest of his life.
Dr. Lynn’s allergies forced him to wear a mask while in barns, and with his cap on backwards (so it didn’t get in the way when milking or examining the udder) which became his signature appearance. He was also plagued by an unpredictable bad back, Brucella strain 19 induced illness, and a heart attack in 1964. For health issues he accepted a position with NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Animal Industry, as a supervising veterinarian in charge of Clinton and Essex counties in 1972. But he didn’t slow down! He still ran his dairy farm, held small animal office hours in the evening 5 days a week between 7 – 8pm, and “moonlighted” for some local dairy farms. By the time he retired in 1989 he was also covering Franklin and Warren Counties. After his retirement from the state he was still active in Palmer Veterinary Clinic. He was a fixture in the office, helping with small animal appointments, large animal calls on call as needed until 1991. He worked in the clinic until illness forced him to stopped doing small animal appointments in December 2000.
Over these 50 years, Lynn was very active within the practice and within the community; for seventeen years he served as the NY State Department of Agriculture supervising veterinarian for Clinton, Essex, and Franklin counties, he was the regional representative on the Executive Board of the New York State Veterinary Association, from 1966-76 he was the director for the Northern New York Veterinary Medical Society, and the New York State Board of Veterinary Medicine deputy examiner, as well as a member of the Farm Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Clinton County Fair Board. In addition to tirelessly representing veterinary medicine, he found time to give back to the community, serving on the Beekmantown School Board from 1970-79, some of which he was vice-president, and the Senior Housing Board in Beekmantown, as well as being active in his local VFW. Dr. Lynn also took time to attend Ayrshire Breeders Club meetings in Ellenburgh, which were quite popular in its early days, drawing crowds of up to 100 people. As an active member of the local 4-H club, Lynn and Alice would transported young 4-Hers to the NY state fair in Syracuse for many years, long after their children had matured passed 4-H participation. The Palmers gave many local rural youth their first trip out of the county and to the State Fair. They realized how important it was to the development of the youth to expose them to bigger possibilities.
In 1979 his eldest son, George, graduated from Cornell with a degree in veterinary medicine. In 1981 George retuned to Plattsburgh to work side by side with his father, at the practice that bears his own name. By this time George was starting a family of his own with his wife, Dawn. Like his father before him, George moved into the clinic and balanced raising children with caring for animals. Glenn Palmer was born in 1986 and raised for four years in the hybrid hospital-home. By 1990 the successful small business had outgrown the half-home, half-hospital where it started on Route 22. This time, it was not the family that moved, but the business. A new facility was erected a quarter mile south on Route 22, just across the road from where Dr. Lynn’s son, Fred lives and operates a milking machine sales and service business.
The march of time and change in location could not stop Dr. Lynn’s passion for his work. Even after the business moved from its inaugural location to its present- day, modern facility Dr. Lynn could be found on working on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings during small animal hours, and Saturday mornings too. On July, 8th, 2000 (the day before his 78th birthday) a banquet was held at the Beekmantown VFW to celebrate Dr. Lynn’s fifty years of veterinary service to the North Country. Because of his active life style, he accumulated a wide array of friends from his profession, his church, and his community many of whom were there to recognize the life of this dedicated, generous man.
In 2000 his prostate cancer had returned. He was also diagnosed with Leukemia in December of 2000. He passed on July 30, 2001, after leaving a full life of accomplishments and contributions to the livestock industry of northern NY and pet owners of Clinton County.