MONTICELLO — If you didn’t know why K-9 dogs barking in the background was highly appropriate at the dedication of Dr. Gary Stamp Way in Monticello on Friday, you knew by the end of the ceremony which saw speakers telling of the illustrious career of the local graduate, Vietnam War veteran and renowned veterinarian.
Stamp had a long list of achievements during his 75-year life that ended on May 26, 2019: Charter member of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, where he served as director from 1999 to 2018; Department of Defense chief of medicine of the Working Dog Service at Lackland Air Force Base; and deputy commander for veterinary services of the Military Dog Veterinary Service of the Army.
According to speakers at the Sept. 17 gathering, he was at least a decade ahead of others when he helped found the VECC, which pioneered the critical care of pets.
He and his surviving wife Mary also put their money where they hearts were, establishing an endowment in 2015 at the University of Illinois to improve the level and affordability of emergency care available to the general public.
It was this Gary Stamp — the friend, classmate and colleague — that speakers discussed at the honorary road dedication held outside on Sept. 17 near the honorary roadway.
“Gary was certainly a great tutor to many of us, because he really had a wealth of knowledge,” said fellow veterinarian Dr. John Byrd, who went to veterinary school with Stamp.
“He always seemed to have the right words of encouragement for you if you looked a little down. He’d volunteer the words to really make you feel good,” Byrd said.
In asking Dr. Stamp’s friends for input before his presentation at the ceremony, Dr. Mike Kastello of the University of Illinois said several words were used time and again to describe Gary Stamp.
“Friendly, outgoing, helpful, sense of humor, honest, class, leader, loyal, and lastly, humble,” Kastello said.
Peter Constable, the Dean of the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine, called Dr. Stamp a “prominent” name for “anyone working in the area of critical care” for animals. He said Stamp developed cutting-edge techniques in the areas of pain management, rescue care and trauma management in his field.
K-9 units from the Piatt County Sheriff’s Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Department, Macon County Sheriff’s Department, Clinton Police Department and Urbana Police Department were on hand Friday. Every once in a while, a stifled bark would be heard from a K-9 vehicle, seemingly honoring the man who, in a way, keeps them healthy today.
Monticello High School classmate Ed Williams talked about Dr. Stamp’s athletic prowess.
“He was the best athlete I ever competed with,” Williams said. “We didn’t need Lebron or Jordan. We had our finisher. But he always put the team first.”
Dr. Stamp was called a humble, soft-spoken man who could also function as a highly driven trailblazer.
Growing up in White Heath, Stamp graduated from Monticello High School in 1962, earning Okaw Valley All-Conference basketball honors for three years.
He then played guard and was a letterman on the Southern Illinois University basketball team, and earned a bachelor’s degree in physiology. Dr. Stamp went on to earn his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the U of I in 1970 before a lengthy life in the military, rising to the rank of Colonel.
In 2013 he was inducted into the Monticello High School Hall of Fame, after already receiving an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Illinois in 2006.
In 2020, the Monticello City Council approved designating a portion of Kratz Road between Market and Hamilton Streets — located behind the high school he graduated from — as Dr. Gary Stamp Way. It is an honorary designation only and does not change the addresses on Kratz Road.
Dr. James Million of the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine told those at the dedication ceremony that it was a classic case of a small town boy making a name for himself.
“He left the world a better place,” Million said. “My hope is this street sign evokes his memory, his accomplishments and his high standards.”