Dr. Ordella Geisler - DVM 1947
Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association Conference 2006
Dr. Ordella Geisler will be honored by the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Medical Alumni Association with a 2006 Alumni Recognition Award. The award is in acknowledgement of Dr. Geisler’s devotion to the advancement of veterinary medicine and for being an exemplary role model for future alumni.
Dr. Geisler, or “Giz” as she is referred to by friends and family, has enjoyed a long, unique, and rewarding career as a veterinarian. Dr. Geisler is a true pioneer having entered the profession at a time when there were virtually no practicing female veterinarians.
She was raised in Hebron Neb., where her father was the local Sherriff. She attended Hebron Junior College before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1940. While taking night classes there, she worked full time as a book keeper in Dr. Grant Ackerman’s veterinary clinic. He encouraged her to apply to veterinary school, and in 1944 she was admitted to K-State, one of only a few veterinary colleges that accepted women at that time.
The veterinary medicine curriculum at K-State was on an accelerated three-year program during World War II. Thus, Dr. Geisler was able to graduate from with doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1947. She returned to Lincoln where she became the first woman licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Nebraska. She re-joined Dr. Ackerman’s practice as an associate and later became partner.
She enjoyed learning new surgical techniques, always adhering to the rigid requirements set by the Small Animal Hospital Association. She treated whatever kind of animal came through the door – small or large – and was willing to make late-night emergency calls. “There was never a routine day. Each day was different and presented new challenges,” Dr. Geisler said.
Over the years she learned to treat a variety of exotic animals for the three zoos in the Lincoln area. Whether it was a performing a caesarian section on a chinchilla, or treating ulcers in the mouth of a snake, she always found exotics work very challenging and exciting. During her career, Dr. Geisler has seen significant changes in attitudes toward women in her profession, especially when veterinary care progressed in the area of companion animals.
“It has been a fascinating career from the standpoint of advancements in medicine and challenges in farm animals and economy,” Dr Geisler said.
Dr. Geisler purchased the veterinary practice from Dr. Ackerman in 1972, and it was renamed “Geisler Animal Hospital.” From that point on, she primarily treated small animals until she retired in 1983, ending a remarkable 37-year career.
In retirement, Dr. Geisler enjoyed traveling and spending time with her husband, Wendell Hoffman, whom she had married in 1978. Hoffman was a CBS News camera man who had traveled the south covering the civil rights movement. They were married for nearly twenty years before he passed away.
Dr. Geisler also served as secretary/treasurer of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association from 1950 to 1952 and from 1959 to 1960.
Dr. Geisler still resides in Lincoln where she enjoys art, cooking, sewing, reading, traveling and attending class reunions.