After becoming one of the few women in the 1960s to graduate from veterinary medical school at Michigan State University, Dr. Karen W. Prescott set out to spread her unique brand of compassionate care to the people and animals of Weston, where she practiced with her husband, Roger, for nearly 30 years.
Dr. Prescott died at her home Tuesday after a lengthy battle with emphysema. She was 66.
"There was a fair amount of hazing back then when she was one of the only women in the class," said her son Stephen of Acton. "But she just kept going, competing with them and beating them. She was a real trailblazer for women veterinarians." After graduating, Dr. Prescott practiced veterinary medicine in San Francisco and Framingham before settling down with her husband after purchasing the Weston Veterinary Clinic in 1968. The couple met at Michigan State.
Gerry Martin of Pembroke worked as supervising technician at the Prescott clinic for 20 years. "We were all family to her," he said.
The clinic quickly became known in Weston as a place where people could take their ailing pets whether it was day or night.
"You could knock on the door of their house in the middle of the night with an emergency and they would help out," Martin said. "They'd do a house call if you needed, and never be upset. You don't find that kind of veterinarian anymore."
Besides working together at the clinic, the couple enjoyed buying and refinishing antiques and for a short time in the early 1990s owned the Old Livery Antiques shop in Harrison, Maine. Her daughter, Laura McIntyre, said her mother enjoyed wildlife and spent much time on the family's properties throughout the Maine countryside.
Her husband died in 1996 and Dr. Prescott sold the clinic in 1998.
"I just couldn't bring myself to leave that practice, but she made sure that we all were OK with the decision," Martin said. "She always involved us in the decisions. It's just not the same anymore."
After selling the clinic, Dr. Prescott stayed active in the community, where her children said she gave as much time and money as she could to a cause or person in need. Many times, she would take in family friends and others who had fallen on hard times, giving them a place to live until they got back on their feet.
"Her independence and confidence was always tempered by her compassion," her son said. "She'd not only give you the shirt off of her own back to family, friends, and people she didn't know, but she'd help them find connections, give financial assistance and a place to stay. She was persistent in going after whatever she thought someone would need."
Dr. Prescott was just as giving to the animals that people brought into her clinic and those that she rescued. Family pets she kept over the years included many dogs and cats, a flock of parrots, a snake, several owls, an injured peregrine falcon, and horses that she kept at a nearby farm in Concord.
In addition to her daughter and son, Dr. Prescott leaves two daughters, Lauren McIntyre of Weston and Julie of Stoneham; another son, Michael of Northbridge; a sister, Mary McKechnie of Reston, Va.; two granddaughters; and her longtime companion, Paul Reardon. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Weston.
Burial will be private.