Darwin Miles Deets was born on the 30th of September, 1959 in Fredonia, Kansas, the fourth of six children born to Max and Marcelyn (née McCoy) Deets. He transitioned from this life into his eternal rest on February 13, 2021.
As his father forged a career in the cattle business, Darwin became accustomed to being around cattle and horses early in life, following his family from Buffalo to Fredonia to Arkansas City and then eventually to Beloit, Kansas, where Max helped found the Solomon Valley Feedlot in 1970. Darwin worked at the feedlot as a cowboy throughout high school and college. At Beloit High School, Darwin played left guard and outside linebacker on three state championship football teams, graduating in 1978. Though not the biggest player, Darwin became known for his hard hits and his nose for the ball.
Darwin proudly attended Kansas State University, where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1982 and then with a doctorate of veterinary medicine in 1985. He worked at several veterinary practices in Missouri and Kansas before starting his own practice called Blackjack Cattle Services in Yates Center, then “The Vet Barn,” in El Dorado, Kansas. For much of his career, he ran his vet practice at the sale barn of El Dorado Livestock Auction, checking an estimated “32,000 cattle per year, more than any other vet in the state” (according to the Flint Hills Media Project, 13 June 2014).
In some ways a pioneer in his field, Darwin became known as “the vet with the golden arm.” His specialty was pregnancy testing bred cows and heifers. Although no official records have been kept, many believe that he pregnancy-tested the most cows and heifers in the trade area of the southern Flint Hills (southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma) for decades. Because ultrasound technology for fetal aging could detect pregnancy two to three months earlier than conventional pregnancy checking, Darwin became one of the first veterinarians to use ultrasound and a specialized computer software program to measure various fetal characteristics during the first phase of pregnancy. Health problems forced Darwin to semi-retire several years ago, but he still enjoyed going to the sale barn auction on Thursdays in El Dorado to visit with his many friends and customers.
Darwin was a man of action and relatively few words. He loved K-State football, good coffee, and chicken fried steak. He also loved BBQ, a good porterhouse, “real” mashed potatoes, and homemade gravy. Though known for his sheepish grin and wry sense of humor, he did not long or lightly suffer fools or foolishness. He preferred wearing his coveralls and ropers but could “clean up well” with western wear and bolo ties. He enjoyed a variety of country artists, especially Alan Jackson singing hymns. He supported youth in ranch roping and participated in WRCA ranch rodeos, and was involved in 4-H nearly all his life. Through it all, Darwin was fortunate to have been loved and befriended by many farmers and ranchers and small town folks across the Flint Hills region.
Darwin married Tracy Wade in 2008 and they adopted their son Caleb in 2014; in 2017 they divorced. Darwin shared his love for hunting and fishing, cattle and horses, and 4-H projects with Caleb. His son brought Darwin great joy during this time of his life.
Darwin spent much of his younger life running from God, but would eventually come to say that his parents’ faith and faithfulness to the Lord convinced him that surely there was a God. Over twenty years ago, with the influence of friends and clients, he began to walk with Jesus.
He was active in three churches over the last many years – Neal Evangelical Free Church, Cambridge Baptist Church, and First Southern Baptist Church of El Dorado – and loved having guests join him in worship. In 2015, he got baptized and publicly declared his faith in Jesus Christ and his hope of heaven. Darwin lives there now, free of pain and hardship as he rides horses and checks on cattle, “praising his Savior all the day long.”
In addition to Tracy and Caleb, Darwin is survived by his mother, Marcelyn Deets, of Colorado Springs, CO; his brother Doug Deets of Manhattan, KS; his sisters Deanna Suder of Laramie, WY; Delores and husband Glenn Wesley of Philadelphia, PA; Marietta and husband Russ Bauck of Colorado Springs, CO; and brother Mark and wife Taryn Deets of Cairo, Egypt. He was preceded in death by his father, Max Deets; his sister-in-law, Kevin Joy Deets, and his brother-in-law, Steven Suder.
A memorial service to celebrate Darwin’s life is scheduled for Saturday, April 10th at 2:00 pm at Rock Creek Lodge & Venue, 6832 NW 40th St, Towanda, KS 67144. Wearing masks is highly encouraged.
Gifts may be given to the Darwin Deets Memorial Fund at three churches:
Neal Evangelical Free Church
P.O. Box 37
Neal, KS 66863
Cambridge Baptist Church
P.O. Box 53
Cambridge, KS 67023
First Southern Baptist Church of El Dorado
200 Oil Hill Rd
El Dorado, KS 67042
Please sign his online guestbook at www.carlsonkirbymorris.com.
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