WILSON, N.C. — The eleventh annual Wilson-Barton Partnership Leadership Award Dinner honoring Dr. Frank T. Batten will be held on Thursday, Sept. 24, on the campus of Barton College. The event, to be held under a tent on Center Campus, will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at $75 per person and may be reserved by calling Frances Belcher at 252-399-6357. Sponsorship opportunities are available and begin at $750 for a table of eight. Advance reservations are required, and the deadline for reserving seats is Thursday, Sept. 10, at 5 p.m. As a salute to Dr. Batten, a portion of each ticket purchased will support the “2015 Wilson-Barton Scholarship Honoring Frank T. Batten,” which will be awarded to a number of students in the Barton College School of Business.
Honoring Dr. Frank T. Batten —
Frank Thomas Batten was born on February 11, 1947, to Thurman Pleasant Batten and Edith Grey Batten of Micro, N.C. He was the middle child of five children, which included a brother, Thurman Ross (Sonny), 10 years older and now deceased; a sister, Scottie Grey, eight years older; a sister, Minnie Katherine, three years younger; and a sister, Edith Jane, 10 years younger. He experienced the joys, the drama, and the adventure of growing up in a large family. He attended Micro High School and enjoyed a variety of school and extra-curricular interests, including basketball, caring for animals, and farm work. Following graduation from high school in 1965, Frank enrolled at Campbell University for one year before transferring to North Carolina State University to begin a focused study toward veterinary medicine. In 1968, he received early admission to the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
During his junior year in veterinary school, Frank married Florence Catherine Price from Selma, N.C. A graduate of Meredith College with a degree in education, Flo taught school while Frank completed his doctorate studies in veterinary medicine.
Following graduation from the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972, Frank began his veterinary practice as an associate in Moore County, N.C., from 1972-1975. With an ambitious goal on the horizon of opening his own practice, Frank worked diligently to master the many challenges of veterinary medicine and business ownership. During those early years of practice, Frank put to good use the informal education regarding business entrepreneurship that he had received from his father during those formative years at home.
In April 1975, only three years into his veterinary career, Frank and Flo moved to Wilson to establish Wilson Veterinary Hospital. The practice began on a small scale with no additional employees. The resilient and resourceful couple managed to handle the initial work themselves. And, as the practice grew, additional doctors and staff joined the practice.
Following those early years of establishing the veterinary hospital, Flo began to devote her time, energy, and focus to raising the Battens’ three daughters. As Frank is quick to say, Flo “was the family’s foundation; she held everything together, allowing me to concentrate on work.” Their growing family included Catherine Wallace (1974), Virginia Rogers (1977), and Edith Grey (1979). Now, Frank and Flo revel in the joys of grandparenthood with six grandchildren who all live in Wilson: Virginia (12), Frank (10), George (8), Wallace (8), David Worth (6), and Batten (4). Family gatherings are particularly treasured experiences in the Batten household.
Five years after establishing his practice in Wilson, Frank opened Animal Medical Center, a second veterinary medical facility on Forest Hills Road. And, three years later, he opened Nash County Animal Hospital, a third facility located in Nashville, N.C. For the next 25 years, Frank concentrated on delivering exemplary veterinary medical care to Wilson and the surrounding communities.
As his practice grew over that quarter of a century, Frank also began to recognize the need for veterinary emergency care, and, in 2005, Frank opened Eastern Carolina Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service to provide an after-hours emergency service for all veterinary offices within a 50-mile radius.
By 2007, his veterinary medical practice and offices had expanded to the point that Frank and his son-in-law, Steve Thomas, made the decision to establish DVM Services Inc. and Vets Pets. This is a veterinary corporation and management company designed to own and operate multiple veterinary hospitals. Today, Frank and Steve operate 19 veterinary facilities. With WVH, Vets Pets, DVM Services, and other related businesses, they employ more than 180 full-time employees.
They operate veterinary emergency hospitals in Wilson, Greenville, Fayetteville, and Knightdale. They also operate routine daytime veterinary hospitals from Wilmington to Hillsborough and have three boarding and grooming facilities. Most recently, they have established Points East Veterinary Specialty Hospital, the first referral surgical practice and referral ultrasound practice east of Raleigh in northeastern North Carolina. Along with this new addition, they also operate Five County Spay Neuter, a spay-neuter clinic located in Zebulon that serves the Wilson, Nash, Franklin, Johnston, and Wake counties.
Frank has devoted his professional life to ensuring excellent veterinary health care by qualified veterinary physicians in model facilities for a significant portion of North Carolina.
In recent decades, Frank’s interests have continued to expand to include real estate and land development. He began in the 1980s, focusing on apartment development and farmland. In the late 1980s, Frank bought farmland on the west side of Wilson that now serves as the Batten residence and his “refuge and escape” from work. Frank takes great joy in improving his land through conservation (land, water, forestry, and wildlife). “Hard farm labor” is considered his most enjoyed “sport,” along with the farming of grass for the horses he also raises.
The Battens have been members of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilson since 1976. He has served as a deacon and elder for several years, and he also has chaired the finance committee, administration committee, and three capital fund campaigns.
Frank served on the Wilson Medical Center Board of Trustees from 2002-2010, and served as Chair from 2007-2009. In 2010, he was one of four recipients to be recognized with the North Carolina Hospital Trustee Service Award presented by the North Carolina Hospital Association.
Currently, Frank serves as Chair of the Duke LP Wilson Medical Center joint venture and as Chair of the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. Past appointments have also included his service on the Greenfield School Board of Trustees, the Wilson Country Club Board of Trustees, the First Citizens Bank Board of Trustees, and the Wilson on the Move Board of Directors. Other honors include induction into the Order of the Roundtable at Greenfield School and national recognition in 1996 from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association as outstanding breeder of North Carolina.