August 1, 2022

Dr. Walter “Frank” Norvell ’54 can’t talk to animals like Dr. Dolittle, but he certainly has a way with horses. He has become a go-to veterinarian for top breeders and stables over the years, with clients entrusting him with the care of promising horses with bloodlines that include competitors in elite events, such as the Kentucky Derby. 

The Ohio veterinarian credits his parents and Texas A&M University with guiding his path to professional success. In gratitude, Norvell and his wife, Joyce, have established a planned gift through the Texas A&M Foundation that will help researchers study and improve future equine breeding and treatment options. 

Becoming an Aggie 

While Norvell was a natural with the livestock and was quite the talented snake shooter, his parents had bigger plans for their middle child. “My dad told me we needed a veterinarian on the ranch, so he hauled me over to Texas A&M,” Norvell remembered. “It was a blessing to be given a sense of direction at that age in life and, fortunately, I’ve enjoyed being a veterinarian.” 

Finding His Stride 

After his military discharge, Norvell took the advice of a colleague and headed to southern Ohio, where there was a shortage of veterinarians. “I didn’t have anything, so we didn’t have anything to lose,” said Norvell, who had married Joyce by this time. “I loaded up the horse trailer and we headed to Ohio. Joyce was a good helpmate as we rented a house and set up our practice.” 

Initially, Norvell’s practice in Mount Orab, Ohio, served all animals, but the Aggie was influenced by watching his brother’s career. “My older brother was also a veterinarian and the leading thoroughbred breeder in Illinois at that time, and we started working together,” Norvell said. “So as my practice grew and I could hire other veterinarians, I started focusing on horses.” 

He quickly became known for his work with equine reproduction and lameness. “The most important thing about a horse is how it can move. Lameness evaluation and gait analysis are the areas that I primarily consult on now,” he said, noting that he takes an old-school approach. “Most of today’s medical professionals rely on diagnostic testing rather than their knowledge of the physiological functioning of a body. If you’re experienced and knowledgeable enough, nothing replaces the physical exam.” 

Interested in learning how you can use a charitable gift annuity to receive annual payments and support your Texas A&M passions like the Norvells? Contact Kelly Corcoran ’95 at the bottom of this page.