‘It was really difficult to say goodbye.’

Dr. Kim Girouard had been working as a veterinarian in Keizer for over 30 years before announcing his retirement in April (Submitted).

For more than three decades, Dr. Kim Girouard has been a staple of the Keizer community.

Girouard has worked and co-owned the Keizer Veterinary Clinic — now Veterinary Centers of America — since 1985 and was instrumental in developing the dog park at Keizer Rapids Park. He also has been a Rotarian for over 30 years and even served as a president from 1996 to ‘97. 

But earlier this month, the good doctor decided to hang up the stethoscope and enter into his next stage of life: retirement. 

For many people, retirement is something to greatly look forward to. But for Girouard, it was a challenge to walk away from his practice. 

“It was really difficult to say goodbye,” Girouard said. “I still think maybe if someone needs someone to do a surgery, that I would be an on-call surgeon.”

“It’s been harder than I thought. Being a vet really becomes part of your identity.” 

Girouard first gained a passion for animals when he was a kid growing up in the Midwest. During the summers, he would visit his grandparents in Wisconsin and spend time with the animals on their farm. 

That passion eventually led him to the city of Corvallis, where he attended Oregon State University and was a part of the schools first medical school graduating class in 1983. 

“I love science and I just love being around animals and working with people,” Girouard said.

Girouard first came to Keizer in 1982 to do his externship at the vet clinic. After graduating and working in Vancouver, Wash., for a couple years, Girouard accepted a full-time position at the clinic in 1985.

“I didn’t ever want to live in a big city,” Girouard said. “I’m a small town person and Keizer just had the right feel that I was looking for.”

Eventually, Girouard became the co-owner of the clinic. 

“Back then, that was pretty much how you did it,” Girouard said. “If you were going to join the clinic long term, you kind of were expected to own part of the practice.”

The clinic eventually got sold to VCA in the summer of 2018, but Girouard continued to work until early-April. 

But being a vet wasn’t enough for Girouard. He wanted another platform to serve in, which is why he joined Rotary in 1986.

“I knew that I just wanted to do more for the community and give back,” Girouard said. “I wanted to do more than just have a job and I thought Rotary was a good fit for me.”

One on Girouard’s biggest impacts as a Rotarian was his role in bringing the dog park to Keizer Rapids Park — a deal that was finalized in 2008.

According to Girouard, the idea was initially created by former Keizer City Council member Richard Walsh after a rotary meeting. 

After talking to his partners, the Keizer Veterinary Clinic provided a large donation, which ended up being crucial to having the dog park come to fruition. 

“It gives people a great place to go play and run with their dogs,” Girouard said. “The only time I haven’t seen it being used is when it’s raining sideways. Otherwise, there are people there all the time.”

Girouard was also instrumental in building of the Keizer Rotary Amphitheater. 

“It’s all about what the needs are. What does our community need? What do our kids need? What do the people that live here need? And then Rotary does what needs to be done in order to make that happen.”

Girouard and his wife, Susie, plan to sell their house in Keizer in the coming months and move to Arizona to be closer to family. Their son, Ryan, lives in Los Angeles.. And their daughter, Micki, lives in Arizona. Girouard’s granddaughter, Suzanna, also lives in Arizona and is working as a veterinarian. 

While he will enjoy being in a warmer climate and spending more time with loved ones, Girouard will miss the town where he spent the vast majority of his adult life. 

“Keizer has been so good to us,” Girouard said. “It has been a great place to work and raise my family.”