Robert L Proctor (1926-1949)

Robert Lee Proctor was born September 1926 in Tucson, AZ. He went Continental school, Tucson High School (’45) and the University of Arizona. Robert was in 4H, where he would be elected president. He was on the track team at both high school and college.

He served two years in the U.S. Army, Pfc. Co. E 23 2nd Infantry Division. After the war, he enrolled in the University of Arizona Agriculture program. Robert was a skilled cowboy and participated in activities like the Aggie Club, Rodeo Team and fencing team or maybe it was the scabbard and blade club(?). In 1948 he took a year off from school and to work as a cattle/livestock inspector. His work led him to Mexico where he was a part of the U.S. – Mexico Aftosa (Hoof and Mouth disease) commission. His brother George had worked with the commission which was trying to eradicate the highly contagious and herd destroying disease.

“The American/Mexican Commission for the Eradication of Aftosa was formalized April 2, 1947, and through the considerable and combined efforts of both countries, foot-and mouth disease was eradicated and Mexico was given free status in September 1952. This effort required the slaughter of nearly 1 million animals plus the manufacture and use of nearly 60 million doses of foot-and mouth vaccine.” [1]

In January of 1949, an Aftosa outbreak in the central Mexico brought Robert and the commission to inspect. Locals were hesitant to let the veterinarians and the commission near their cattle. Villagers were unaware of the widespread effects of Aftosa and feared the commission not the disease. There was ignorance, arrogance, confusion and mistrust, a recipe for disaster. Prior to 1949, two commission officials had been killed.

Robert writes home to George, “This week we ran into a little outbreak and had to kill 918 head. It seems, by what I hear, that ever[y] place you went some “pelado” tried to kill you.”

In San Pedro del Alto, Mexico on January 31, 1949 Robert along with inspector Raul Sanchez and two guards were rushed by a mob of 200 villagers. Sanchez and the guards were beaten but released.  It was thought Robert had escaped but later locals told authorities the truth; Robert was beaten, stabbed and buried twice. The Mexican army retrieved his body and prepared him for his return back to the U.S. Unfortunately, his return was interrupted by International red tape and bad weather.

Robert rests in peace at South Lawn Cemetery, Tucson, AZ.

[1] AgriLife Today. Aftosa campaign tough life for inspectors, veterinarians. April 5, 2001.



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