By: Dr. Dan Paulo
My first contact with Dr. Leroy Dorminy was during the early days of CVM, just about the time that the organization partnered with World Concern and relocated to Seattle. I had volunteered for one of the early short-term mission trips of the new organization. It was shortly after my 1981 mission trip to Haiti that I received a call from Leroy and began a multi-faceted relationship that included friendship, admiration, respect and his mentoring me in my Christian walk.
It wasn’t long before I was touched by Leroy’s unique ability to (gently) convince you to become more involved in the organization. This charismatic southern gentleman was a professional in asking you to help and having you feel that you didn’t want to let him down. My young children soon began to recognize Leroy’s Georgia accent when he called. They would answer the phone and yell to me, “Dad, it’s that Leroy man again!”
One of his special gifts that I envied was his ability to remember names and personal details of anyone he met. He would greet someone by name and carry a conversation, even though he had met the person only once months or years ago. It was a gift and part of his charisma, but his genuine interest, concern and caring for others that allowed Leroy to share his love for Christ and positively influence others throughout the United States, and beyond, to support and build Christian Veterinary Mission.
I was able to develop a more intimate relationship with Leroy when I had an opportunity to travel with him on a few survey trips to visit potential sites for CVM veterinarians. Together we shared adventures through Colombia, Bolivia, Honduras and Guatemala. Wherever we went we met with missionaries and groups who might be receptive to facilitating or utilizing a CVM presence. Leroy made sure that everyone he met understood the value and need for a veterinarian in the mission field.
The first time that I traveled with Leroy in 1990 was to assist him after his recent heart attack. Nothing was going to hold him back from making the trip, so we traveled to La Paz, Bolivia and landed at the highest airport in the world. The air was so thin that Leroy had to change hotel rooms to a lower floor and get oxygen so that he could breathe easier.
I was twenty years younger but he asked for no quarter and kept me hopping as we traveled on to visit several areas of Bolivia and Colombia. What was on his mind during our free moments of that trip was not that he was pushing his cardiac endurance to the limit but rather that he was missing the birth of his first grandchild and we were often in remote areas and out of communication.
We shared many memories while traveling together from racing over the Andes with a crazy taxi driver and a carsick, vomiting child sitting between us to being stranded in a remote Honduran village when our arranged driver failed to arrive. We both dove to the floor in heavily armed Bogata when we thought nearby fireworks was gunfire. We missed flights and spent hours waiting in airports. We encouraged each other when we were detained for hours in immigration while entering Panama during the last days of the anti-American Noriega regime. We slept in hotels and huts, cities and jungles. We visited veterinarians, cattlemen, missionaries, pastors, community leaders, and farmers. During all of this Leroy was constantly networking and building relationships for his vision of CVM.
The last time that I was able to travel with Leroy was, I believe, his last overseas mission. We were to meet in London and then travel on together to Nigeria where we would be joined by Dr. Susan Stewart. Our purpose was to participate in the formation and launching of Christian Veterinarians Nigeria. Leroy had been corresponding and working on this project for some time and international chapters of Christian veterinarians had been his dream. He wasn’t able to complete that trip as he was seriously ill in London and couldn’t go on. Susan and I continued and did our best but realized that there was no replacing the founder of CVM. Christian Veterinarians Nigeria launched but everyone involved was looking for the Dr. Dorminy.
I know that I am not alone in stating that I’ve never met anyone like Leroy. He was my friend and mentor and I will miss him. We will all miss him. I was blessed and am thankful to have known him.