Dr. Charles Thomas Shortall, a retired Towson veterinarian whose career spanned more than 40 years, died Friday of cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.
The longtime Lutherville resident was 76.
Dr. Shortall was born on a farm in Queen Anne's County and raised in Cordova.
After graduating from Easton High School in 1953, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 from Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Del.
He enlisted in the Army and after graduating from security school was sent to Eritrea, Africa. After being discharged in 1959, he enrolled at the University of Maryland, where he majored in animal husbandry.
Dr. Shortall was selected to participate in the veterinary school program at the University of Georgia in Athens, from which he graduated in 1965.
He began his career working for a Chestertown veterinary practice that handled large animals.
"Because he was the youngest in the practice, it was Charles who had to go out and find a sick cow down in some farmer's field at 2 a.m.," said his wife of 49 years, the former Diane Edgell.
"During his first year in practice, he was sent to geld a horse, and because the horse wasn't corralled, he had to lasso it," said Mrs. Shortall. "He then started to neuter him when the horse kicked him right through the side of the ramshackle barn."
Dr. Shortall decided he preferred working with smaller animals.
"He liked having contact with people and their pets. This was very special to him," said Mrs. Shortall.
In 1966, Dr. Shortall joined the Beltway Animal Hospital in Towson, and within a short time, was made a partner.
"I was swamped with work and needed a partner. At the time, he was working on the Eastern Shore and wasn't completely satisfied with his job," said Dr. Robert H. Batchelor, who established the small-animal practice in 1960.
"He brought a lot of enthusiasm to his work, was easygoing, a hard worker and very devoted," said Dr. Batchelor. "He did lots of surgeries and was quite proficient. He was performing surgeries that today would be referred to a specialist."
Dr. Shortall retired this month.
"The fact that he worked so long tells you that he liked the work," said Dr. Batchelor.
"He was an excellent man to work for. He took the time and was very interested in and cared about his employees," said Sally L. Hurst, a receptionist who has worked for the practice since 1986. "He always did what was best for the animals. That was always his main objective."
Dr. Kevin B. Smith, who first worked as a kennel assistant for Dr. Shortall, is now a veterinarian in the practice.
"Everyone here respected him and looked up to him. He was such an inspiring person," he said. "He gave everyone a chance and was always for the underdog. He was able to point people in the right direction."
He said that Dr. Shortall was "very efficient." He said he could palpate an animal and right away feel whether something was wrong.
"And then he'd say, 'I think we need an X-ray.' He always worked for the animal. One thing he taught me: Be kind to the client, but the animal always comes first," said Dr. Smith.
"He would always get right to the point. One. Two. Three. He said … keeping it brief and getting right to the point was the best way," said Dr. Smith.
"He cared for so many animals through the years that his co-workers and pet owners became lifelong friends. He was an astute diagnostician and surgeon," said Beverly Edgell, a sister-in-law who lives in Easton.
Dr. Shortall was a member of the District of Columbia Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Shortall enjoyed traveling and vacationing at homes he owned on Nantucket, Mass., and Marco Island, Fla. He was an avid reader of history and was a member of the Nantucket Historical Association.
He was a gardener. He also liked to hunt and fish, and was a member of Ducks Unlimited.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's School chapel, 1152 Falls Road, Brooklandville.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Shortall is survived by a daughter, Megan L. Kenny of Stevenson; and two grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun