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Living in the Prairie Oasis: A reflection of life on the prairie and serving others

As a young boy, Wayne Sletten would leave home in Winthrop, Minnesota to spend summers with his  grandparents on the Swenson Ranch north of Red Owl. He loved the wide open prairie and it became his dream to one day have a place of his own in the Faith area. Wayne’s mother, Anna, knew that buying a ranch would be out of the question so she encouraged Wayne to become a veterinarian. He attended the University of Minnesota and graduated in 1956 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Wayne, along with his new bride Karen, moved to Faith and opened their practice on August 1, 1956. Dr. Mitchell, the State Veterinarian, predicted that the couple wouldn’t be able to build a workable practice in an area that was so widespread and unfamiliar with having a veterinarian. Wayne & Karen purchased the Durkee house across from the city park and there they raised five children. They bought several acres of land just west of town as well as the old Felty barber shop where many Faith settlers had their first haircut. The barber shop was moved next to the house in town and was used as the office for 23 years. A barn was built on the land west of Faith and it was referred to as the Animal Hospital. 
Wayne quickly gained a good reputation for his accuracy in pregnancy testing cattle and for establishing an effective vaccination program backed by high quality vaccines. Always a team, he and Karen developed a recording system, long before computer days, so that clients would know what vaccines their livestock had been given from year to year. In 1981, Wayne & Karen built a home on the acreage west of Faith so their practice could be next to the Animal Hospital with the basement serving as the company office. For decades Wayne spent his days driving a suburban loaded with supplies down highways and dirt roads heading to a client’s ranch to help vaccinate, test, stitch, or diagnose. Most people affectionately called him “Doc”.   
Wayne and Karen loved the town of Faith and were active members of Bethel Lutheran Church where they spearheaded many events like church outings and the long-running Easter Cantata. One of their many travel adventures included a short-term missionary trip to Kenya, Africa. Wayne has a deep love and reverence for the Lord and he’s eager to share this love with others. Wayne was a long-time member of the Chamber of Commerce serving on many committees and as president. He was instrumental in establishing the tennis and basketball courts that have been enjoyed by so many. 
Wayne retired after 50 years in the business in 2006 happy to have proven Dr. Mitchell’s initial prediction wrong. 
Wayne and Karen are now settled in Rapid City. They feel very blessed with the many wonderful friends and memories made during their years in Faith.  

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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