"True country vet" took calls in the middle of the night, treating animals for years after he planned to retire.
With his dog at his side, Dr. Ralph Molnau could be seen driving from farm to farm around Carver County in his old pickup truck, making his veterinarian house calls.
"He'd come at the drop of a hat," said farmer Steve Kelzer. "You'd just call him and he'd come out, even at his age. He just loved to get out in the country and see what's going on."
Molnau, owner of Countryside Veterinarian and Feed and a former Minnesota Veterinarian of the Year, died Jan. 16 of leukemia at his Waconia home. He was 82. Services have been held.
His love of animals and of veterinary medicine drove him to continue working long past retirement age.
"That was his life," said his wife, Mary Molnau. "He loved doing everything that's necessary for animals."
Born and raised on a large dairy farm in the Chanhassen area, Molnau was active in 4-H and regularly showed cattle at the Minnesota State Fair. He was one of a group of students who lobbied the University of Minnesota to establish a veterinary medicine program. Their efforts paid off, and in 1952, Molnau became a member of the second class to graduate from the U's vet school.
At the Waconia Veterinary Clinic, Molnau treated mostly livestock animals from local farms, but was also available to pet owners.
"During the day he'd be out with the cows and the sheep. In the evenings we would spay cats and dogs," Mary Molnau said. "We answered many calls in the middle of the night. There were farmers who had cows with milk fever, or a cow having trouble with a calf. It was important that you got there."
In 1986, Molnau attempted to retire, but it didn't last. "Some people would laugh at that because he never really retired," Mary Molnau said. Five years later, he opened another clinic -- the Countryside Veterinarian and Feed -- on a plot of land just west of Waconia where he raised sheep.
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488