Oscar Swanstrom
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On Saturday, November 21, 2020, Oscar G. Swanstrom, DVM, MS, passed away at the age of 80.
Oscar's life exemplified one of love, kindness, laughter, strength and hard work. Born in Arrowsmith, Illinois, Oscar grew up working hard on his family farm, taking care of dairy cattle & show horses, as well as planting and harvesting many acres of their large family farm.
Among his early skills, he leaned the art of shoeing and trimming horses from his brother-in-law Forrest Garrett. He also drove a black Clydesdale hitch based in Illinois, traveling to shows all over the Midwest.
After a friend encouraged him to go to veterinary school, he attended Eastern Illinois University, graduating in 1961 with his pre-vet degree.
He earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois and was honored, in 1964, with an Illinois Racing Board scholarship.
Following graduation, during Vietnam, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was commissioned a Captain, and served as base veterinarian at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.
In 1969, following the Air Force, he attended Purdue University for advanced study, earning his Master of Science Degree in Veterinary Medicine, specializing in radiology and orthopedic surgery, while working as a graduate assistant and clinician.
After graduation, he was the Field Veterinarian at Illinois Equine Hospital and Clinic in Naperville, Illinois. Within two years, he was teaching at Michigan State University's Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, educating students, farriers, clients, and 4-H students in veterinary science classes.
From 1975 -1979, he had a private racetrack practice for the Chicago Thoroughbred Race Tracks. In 1977, he met Theresa, the love of his life, when he brought a horse into the clinic where she worked. They were married to for 36 years.
1980 took him to Kentucky, where he had a private practice, serving a number of Thoroughbred tracks and farms. He earned the nickname "ANYVET" at Churchill Downs because of his dedication.
He authored numerous publications on a variety of topics, including "Therapeutic Swimming" which included producing the first video of equine underwater movement; "Clinical Effects of Intra-Articular Healon Injection" (Journal of Equine Medicine and surgery) and Intra-Articular Betasone and Depo-Medrol: A Comparative study".
He also wrote several monthly columns, including for the Illinois Equine Market, Illinois Racing News, Backstretch Magazine and The Paulick Report.
He was a member of many organizations, including the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association, Honorable Order of the Kentucky Colonels, and the Who's Who in the Midwest.
He presented five American Association of Equine Practitioner papers and was a speaker at numerous Veterinary Medical Association conventions.
He was nominated and inducted into the International Veterinary Hall of Fame by an international group of veterinarians and farriers in 2005 at Churchill Downs. The award was sponsored by The American Farrier's Journal.
Oscar was a very special person, loved and valued by all, especially for his personality and humor. He was an outstanding vet, who never sugar coated anything. He was straightforward and told clients the facts. And he was more than fair to all.
It didn't matter if the horse was a backyard pet or a million dollar winner. Each of his patients was treated with the same level of respect and greatest degree of care. He showed up in the heat of the day or below zero night. He was devoted to his patients.
If he didn't know something, he would get on the phone and get answers. Oscar's priority, focus and passion was never money, but always the love of the horse and getting them healthy and thriving.
He was the vet who Buck Wheat, head of PR at Churchill Downs, would call on to share his time and experience with celebrities, giving then a glimpse into the world of racing and the beauty of the thoroughbred horse.
He traveled the globe and was respected internationally by fellow veterinarians and farriers from Brazil, Sweden, France, Ireland, Japan and beyond. However, no matter where he went, Kentucky was always the most beautiful place to him and was his paradise. And his family was his first priority and his everything.
He had an infectious smile and laugh and loved to make people happy through his humor, storytelling, and open heart. To his daughter Kasi, he set the highest of bars for what a real gentleman should be. To his son Justin, he was the epitome of the phrase "work hard and never look up." And to his grandsons Colton & Ryan, he was "the best Grandpa around".
At the end of the day, Oscar was a humble, loving man who saw himself as a simple farm boy from Illinois. However, in reality, he was a very rare and caring soul who will be deeply missed by so many.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Bernard and Daisy Bane Swanstrom; his brother, William Swanstrom and his sister, Suzanne Garrett.
He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Theresa Swanstrom of Louisville; his son, Justin Swanstrom of Simpsonville; his daughter, Kasi Cox (Jeremy) of Westport; his grandsons, Colton S. Cox and Ryan L. Cox of Westport; his granddaughter, Ruby Elizabeth Swanstrom of Simpsonville and several nieces and nephews.
There will be no services.

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Published in The Sentinel-News from Nov. 25 to Nov. 26, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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7 entries
December 16, 2020
My deepest condolences to all of Oscar’s family. Fifty years ago I was Dr. Swanstrom’s student assistant at MSU and co-author of his paper on Therapeutic Swimming for Horses. He was a kind and generous mentor. Flying with him to Atlanta to present our paper is still memorable for me. Oscar alway kept a spiral bound notebook on his desk and made notes on every phone and in-person conversation, keeping those notebooks in chronological order - a habit that I adopted and used for a lifetime and it saved the day more than once. My parents and brother Malcolm stayed in touch with Oscar across the decades and I’m glad we spoke a couple of years ago by phone. I will always remember Oscar for all that he taught me.
Marc Lindy
Student
November 27, 2020
Teresa and family- I am so sorry for your loss. I know he will be missed not only by you but by everyone who knew him. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers in the days to come. Sincerely, Ivy Loftice, Verona, KY
Ivy Loftice
Friend
November 27, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Sue Strack
Friend
November 25, 2020
We love you doc and your legacy will live on through all the people you came in contact with in your journey through life. You will be deeply missed and the world has become a lesser place without you. I pray for momma Teresa and Kasi. Stay close to em doc and always give them a little reminder that your still around. With all the love in the world.
Sincerely,
Sammy mcintosh
Sam McIntosh
Family
November 25, 2020
Curtis and I thought the world of Dr Swanstrom. He always had a joke for me! He was an awesome Vet to our horses. We knew we could call him up with a concern and he would tell us what to do. I remember one time we had an issue with Blaze while out of town trail riding so we called Doc he wasn't sure but said he was going to do some research on it and call us back. Well he made several calls to us and he got Blaze better. Rest in peace Doc you will be greatly missed
November 25, 2020
A dear friend and the best broodmare vet on this earth ....
Susan Netherwood
Friend
November 25, 2020
On behalf of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the Order offers its deepest condolences and is proud of a life well lived and his service to others, both two footed and four hoofed, by Colonel Swanstrom.
Sherry Crose, Executive Director
Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
Sherry Crose
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