On a perfect spring evening recently, the new open air barn on the campus of Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center was dedicated to Paul R. Fout, a renowned horse breeder and trainer who passed away in 2005.
The event began at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 17, as more than 160 guests arrived to gather their programs and take their seats in a park-like area in front of the new barn.
In opening remarks, Shelley Duke, a member of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors and the chairperson of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center Council, announced that this is the center’s 25th anniversary year. She also relayed how the center has grown and expanded within this time, and she touched on how Paul Fout had contributed in many ways to the center’s success.
“Paul was the ‘go-to man’ on tough decisions,” Duke said in her remarks. “I had private conversations with Paul after he and I helped interview candidates for faculty positions at the hospital. He was circumspect in his evaluations; [in our conversations] I discovered the depth of this man.”
Dr. Fred Fregin, who served as the founding director of the equine medical center for its first 20 years, also spoke at the event, relaying how Fout was instrumental in raising the funds needed to purchase and operate an equine ambulance, the only vehicle of its kind in Virginia. In addition, Fregin outlined how Fout was a visionary who saw the need for the type of barn that was eventually built and dedicated in his name.
“As with the horse ambulance, Paul knew that we needed a new barn to serve outpatients quickly and efficiently. I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute to Paul than to name this barn in his honor,” Fregin said. “It’s practical and efficient – just like Paul.”
Following Fregin’s remarks, Betsy Flanagan, vice president for development and university relations at Virginia Tech, stepped to the podium to remark that she had met Fout and “knew first-hand about his phenomenal contributions to the horse industry in Virginia, his support of the hospital, and his generosity and tireless efforts in making things happen.”
Flanagan then read the resolution that was approved by Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors, officially naming the structure The Paul R. Fout Barn. Framed copies of the resolution were presented to Paul Fout’s son, Doug, as well as to Peggy Steinman, a long-time friend of Fout’s and the owner of many of the horses he trained.
Speaking next was Dr. Nat White, the Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and current director of the equine medical center. White noted that, throughout his 24 years working at the center, the goal has always been to make it the best equine referral and teaching hospital in the world. “Tonight you are not only celebrating the construction of a hospital stable but also the recognition of progress toward this goal, which was shared by Paul Fout and his family,” White said. “This seasonal barn is a tremendous addition to our hospital.
“My special thanks go to Peggy Steinman,” White continued, “who, as a client, also recognized the value of additional space for outpatients and quick admission of horses – and who generously supported both the concept and construction of this new barn.”
Doug Fout stepped to the podium and said, “This barn dedication is an important moment for our family. My sisters Nina and Virginia, my wife Beth and myself are all very honored and touched that Virginia Tech and the equine medical center have chosen to recognize Dad this way. What I hope everyone here can always remember about him was his uncompromising commitment to doing things right. It’s what brought him success at the track as well as the way he conducted all other facets of his life. That’s why it’s so fitting that the [equine medical center] has bestowed this honor upon him, because that’s what they are about as well – taking care of horses the best way they can – the right way, every day.”
At this point, the Fout family surrounded a brick pedestal that was covered in a burgundy cloth. The family joined in removing the cover to reveal a bronze plaque on top of the pedestal, featuring the image of Paul R. Fout, and text commemorating his contributions to the hospital.
The Fout family, Steinman, and White gathered to cut a large ribbon that was strung across the front entry of the barn, and the dedication ceremony was concluded. White then invited all attendees to visit various areas of the hospital, talk with faculty and staff, and take in the range and scope of the hospital’s world class facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.