Dr. Paul "Vet" Hakes, optometrist, fly fisherman, chukar hunter, brisket smoker, tequila taster, awesome dad and husband, devoted friend, and Nebraska gentleman died January 13, 2015.
Survived by wife Shellie, children Paul, Chris, Tiffany, Mandy, Ryan, and 9 grandchildren.
Born in Sydney Nebraska, Vet spend much of his childhood fishing and hunting the rivers and cornfields of Nebraska, which evolved into a lifetime love of the outdoors and what it had to offer. The pursuit of these activities brought him to McCall where he opened his practice with no money in the bank and little more than a hope and a prayer he could make it. Vet rented a small exam room in the office of a local dentist by the name of Dr. Brad Gauss. This transaction began what would evolve into an endearing and admirable 45-year friendship between the two.
Shortly after opening the doors to McCall Optometric, Vet learned there wasn't enough patients in McCall to earn a living. So rather than giving up and moving to a larger city, he expanded the marketplace by renting small office spaces in the neighboring towns of Cascade, Council, and Riggins. For nearly 30 years he packed his instruments in the back of his truck at 6:00am every Tuesday and Wednesday, drove nearly a hundred miles each week to these neighboring towns in order to see his patients, then searching for new routes and opportunities to explore on his roundabout drives back to McCall in the evening. While this was unconventional in his professional field, he did it because he was determined to live, work, and raise his family in this wonderful community.
Vet loved gadgets. He lived nearly his entire life with the hopeful suspicion that there was a better way to avoid life's little inconveniences. And in recent years became convinced that the answer to ending these annoyances could probably be found somewhere on the "inTRAnet" as he called it. For example, he found it much more sensible to fit his wide ranging chucker dog Kaz with a global positioning satellite collar than to attend weeks of tedious dog training classes. Vet also owned nearly every grilling and meat smoking contraption ever offered for sale. This was partly because of his curiosity regarding whether it would actually work, and partly because of a deeply ingrained, and borderline crazy quest for better smoked brisket. Some of this impressive inventory of gadgets was the result of his uneasy relationship with online shopping and the unreliable "return key" on his computer's keyboard. He once accidentally purchased three cases of hot sauce he saw featured on the cooking channel when he thought he was buying a small 6 oz sampler pack. "Yes dad I'm sure they probably made a mistake…and no thank you I don't need more than four bottles to take home".
Vet counted many many people as friends, and a great number of friends as family. He was also very passionate about the Salmon River where he and his wife Shellie built their delightful second home. He loved having friends and family "down on the river", where he could share with them the setting that mean so much to him. He found the soothing sound created by the river, and the unique light at dusk, the MAGIC HOUR, touched his soul. He always began his toasts, which were frequent, with "TO THE RIVER AND IT'S FAMILY." Knowing he had limited time left, Vet chose to spend many of his hours sitting on his deck, listening to the river while looking up at the chuker hills he loved. Vet, and the rest of the family were very grateful that he was able to remain in the home that he loved so much during his last days. Shellie, we thank you for all your efforts that allowed that to happen.
I once asked Vet if he was working the next day and he told me off the cuff that he didn't consider how he earned his living to be "work." Every day at the office provided him the opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and in some way improve the quality of people's lives.