This has been an almost unbearably terrible week for those in the veterinary profession, and those who love animals. First the awful news that Dr. Sophia Yin had passed away, and then not one day later, we learned of the passing of another tremendous voice and educator, Dr. Lorie Huston.
Like many of you I considered Dr. Huston a friend. She was extremely well regarded for her work online as the Voice of Pet Care with the Pet Healthcare Gazette, her many contributions to various publications, and most recently her position as president of the Cat Writer’s Association. But I think even more than her fantastic work, she was admired for her kindness.
Her gentle manner and empathy were unrivaled, and a shining example of the compassion that veterinarians so often extend to animals but sometimes struggle to extend to each other. She never had an unkind word for anyone. I don’t know how she did it. She made me want to be more like her.
As a denizen of the online community, I have nothing tangible to offer in condolences, no casseroles to deliver, no walls to place a white flower upon. All I have are words, those intangible, ethereal ideas that seem so unremarkable in the face of such sadness, and my attempt to express them in the hopes that in some small way they help someone else understand what Dr. Lorie was all about. And because I cannot bear to cry any more today, I want to instead share a story that will maybe make those of you who knew her smile a little through your tears.
The Marble Room Incident
A couple of years ago, the AVMA national convention was in San Diego. I touched base with Dr. Huston and learned she would be attending, and made plans to meet up with her at the Winn Feline Foundation booth, where Dr. Huston was sharing the work the foundation is doing to advance the health and well-being of cats. Dr. Huston had six cats, six well-loved, adored felines.
“Shall we go get dinner?” I asked, and she said she thought that would be a good idea. We walked a little bit through the Gaslamp district, and as I was starting to get tired I saw the name of a restaurant I had been to before and said, “How about the Marble Room? They’re great.” Lorie agreed.
I had been to the Marble Room with my husband shortly after it opened, a throwback steak house type place with amazing truffle fries. That was how I remembered it. No one told me they had changed ownership.
We sat outside since it was a pleasant evening, which in retrospect was an error since had I gone in I would have seen the new theme: old timey bordello masquerading as a saloon. Within a minute, what I thought was a streetwalker but was instead an embarrassed-looking server in a too-tight corset and can-can skirt asked us what we would like to drink.
“Iced tea,” Lorie said with a pleasant smile, as I sat horrified. “Me too,” I squeaked out. “Are these uniforms new?”
The server nodded with a frown, trying not to catch the edge of the menus on her fishnets.
So Lorie and I shared a pleasant meal of not-quite-as good as I remember truffle fries while we talked about the role social media played in the evolution of veterinary medicine.
As always happened when we spoke, I was blown away by how sharp she was- never mind her calm and quiet demeanor, her brain was always churning away a million miles an hour about what the next big step was in improving the human-animal bond. Her greatest gift, as many of you know, was in explaining these complicated health concepts in concise and clear language. She made medicine accessible, and to those like me who knew medicine, she made social media accessible too.
Midway though dinner, she excused herself to find the ladies room. When she returned, she assured me that she located it just fine. When I followed suit a moment later, wedging between red leather banquettes towards the back, I saw that the hall leading to the ladies room was hard to miss as it was covered in, uh, tasteful I guess, nudes. I paused a moment to dab my forehead with cold water, mortified that I took poor, sweet Dr. Lorie to the world’s tackiest themed restaurant for subpar potatoes.
When I returned, Lorie was talking to the server and quite kindly ignoring her attempts to hold her top up as she cleared the plates. “I am so sorry,” I said. “This is not the place I remember.”
“Oh no, it was delicious,” she said kindly, ignoring the rest of the situation. “The truffle fries were excellent. Thank you.”
And that was Dr. Lorie, always. Gracious to a fault. She was generous with her friendship, advice, and compliments, even when they were not deserved, even when her friend subjected her to an awkward, PG-13 rated evening out after a long day at the conference booth.
She will be missed.
This is a wonderful story and total Lorie!
Joanne McGonagle says
Thank you for this article. It did make me smile. I was fortunate to get to spend four hours with Lorie at the Atlanta airport a couple of years ago when there were long flight delays. We had dinner together and shared a lot of laughter. When it was time for go to our gates, we gave each other a hug and she said. “Who knew flight delays could be so much fun?” She was a wonderful friend. I miss her already.
Thank you for sharing this story. It’s at times like this that I truly hate how spread out our community is. Hugs
Jeanne Pursell says
I am so sorry to hear of Lorie’s passing. May she rest in peace. This is a wonderful story.
Exactly how I remember her. Gracious to the end. With a smile and a kind word, no matter what. I will ever remember meeting her at the first event we held, and being so excited that she loved us! She was so complimentary and supportive. And, she backed it up with offers of help on a regular basis. I learned that I could count on Lorie to be honest with me… and tell me what I needed to hear in ways that made it sound like she was bestowing the nicest compliment one could ever get! Oh, how very much I learned from her.
Paris & John says
Oh, Jessica, this story made me laugh and cry at the same time. Lorie will sure be missed…
Oh Jessica! Like Paris I am laughing and crying at the same time. This is the most beautful tribute…I am also loving Yvonne’s comment below. THANK YOU for showing the world who Lorie truly WAS………I will cherish this post forever. Sending you love and ((((hugs)))), this could NOT have been easy for you……….xoxoxo
Christine Suma Hoy says
Although it was written under sad circumstances, I so enjoyed reading that. Thank you for making me smile in spite of the bad news. What a lovely story <3
Dino Dogan says
I was very saddened when I heard. Thank you for sharing this story and celebrating Lorie’s life. She will be missed.
I wish that I had been fortunate enough to know her!!!
That is indeed who she was. I remember her through the #dogtalk tweet chats and when she interviewed me on lost dogs. I am still so sad she is gone.