Opelika Veterinarian Reflects on Fatherhood, Grandparenting for Father’s Day


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May 06, 2023

Opelika Veterinarian Reflects on Fatherhood, Grandparenting for Father’s Day

By ANN CIPPERLY Located in a country setting, a wooden fence frames the pasture


Located in a country setting, a wooden fence frames the pasture with miniature donkeys at the home of Judy and Dr. Jere Colley. Over the years, a variety of animals have found a home under the care of the beloved Opelika veterinarian. On a perfect spring afternoon, Jere relaxes on a swing with Judy as he recalls his early years in Opelika, being a father of three successful children and now enjoying eight grandchildren in his retirement.

Both Judy and Jere grew up in Troy, Alabama. Jere's grandfather was superintendent of the Baptist Children's Home in Troy, and they had a big herd of donkeys. When Jere's parents traveled, he would stay at the Children's Home.

"I loved it," he said. "There was always something to do when there are 350 kids. I used to spend a lot of time with the donkeys."

Judy and Jere dated in high school and had a picture taken together with Judy sitting on a donkey.

"When Judy and I got married, we had donkeys, and have been married 55 years, and I just have enjoyed my donkeys," Jere said.

Judy's father was mayor of Troy and then in the state legislature, while Jere's father was one of two doctors in Troy with the other being his uncle.

After high school, Jere attended Auburn University on a football scholarship, playing under coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan. He was on the team with Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley. Jere couldn't focus on football with Judy in Troy. After three months at Auburn, they got married. At that time, the majority of the first-string football team was married, and they all lived in Caroline Draughon Village.

While Jere attended veterinarian school, Judy taught at Carver School in Opelika. After he graduated, the Colleys moved to Columbus, Georgia, for a year for him to complete an internship. Judy had taught school with Roslyn Stern, and they became good friends with the Sterns, who wanted them to move back to Opelika to open the animal clinic.

The Colleys were considering an offer in Arkansas, but after praying about it, they decided on Opelika, as people were so supportive, they said. A few other Opelikans were a huge influence as well: Raymond Newman, Buck Rice, his cousin Billy Hitchcock and Frank Morris were all supportive of Jere.

"There is not a better place to live than Opelika," Jere said. "Next to marrying Judy, coming to Opelika was the best thing. People could not have been any nicer. We went around Alabama looking at vet clinics and taking pictures of surgery rooms. Then Judy drew it out on a piece of cardboard for the contractor."

Jere opened the Opelika Animal Hospital in 1979. Judy worked there off and on over the years as a receptionist.

"I was like my dad," he said. "People were not just clients, they were friends. I loved them."

Cal James Sr. sold them the property where the Colleys currently live. The first three or four years, they went to the property in the afternoons after work for a picnic until the house was built in 1984.

"God built the land," Judy said. "We just put a house on it."

Jere said he remembers many long days at the clinic and going back at night when someone had a sick animal. Sometimes he spent the night at the clinic or took sick animals home to care for them overnight and on weekends. They had a special room in their home for animals, and their children enjoyed loving on them, they said.

Faith is important to the Colleys, they said, and they are active at First Baptist Church in Opelika. In 1991, they became missionaries in Bangladesh. Their two daughters went with them for almost two years.

"If you are the only people who speak English for 60 miles, you get close to your kids," Jere said.

The Colleys have three children — Jere Colley Jr., Tipi Miller and Casey Stewart. Jere Jr. and his wife Sarah have two children — Ray, a senior at Truett McConnell University, and Trip, who recently graduated from high school and will attend Auburn University this fall.

Sarah works for Stitch Therapy, while Jere Jr., an attorney, works closely with probate and juvenile court. He is currently running for Lee County probate judge.

Casey and husband Heath Stewart have three children — Savannah, 15, Jack, 13, and Saylor, 9. Heath is in management with USA Concrete, and Casey is secretary at Lee-Scott Academy.

Tipi, director of The United Way of Lee County, and Wes, who is landscape manager in facilities at Auburn University, have three children — Colt, 13, Annie Grace, 13, and Branch, 9.

Judy and Jere were also involved in foster care. They have kept a couple of 11-year-olds for a few years and babies. The girls were teenagers and helped feed the babies at night and on weekends. The Colleys stay in touch with the children.

Jere gives more credit to Judy for raising the kids as he often worked long hours. His main time with the children was doing something special with one child at a time every month.

"If someone asked me what I thought I did that was good, it was being with one child at a time because then you become their best friend," he said. "They will tell you about their friends and teachers. That was one thing I did that made a difference. It is not taking all three, it is one on one.

"Another thing that is very important is getting to know your kids’ friends. That is big."

Their daughters were a year apart in school, and he wanted to get to know the guys in their classes. When they were in junior high school, Jere held a Bible study at their home for guys in their classes. One year, he took nine in the Bible study to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Those guys still come to see him when they are in town.

Since retiring in September 2019, Jere is enjoying having their eight grandchildren, aged 9 to 20, living close. He takes the younger ones to school and picks them up.

"You have to be careful to remember that you have to let the parents be mom and dad, and you are the grandparent," he said. "I didn't realize how much fun I missed with my three kids. It was like God said I was going to get eight more for another chance."

He and Judy enjoy attending baseball and volleyball games, as well as tennis matches.

The grandkids are enjoying the animals at their home. They ride the 17 miniature donkeys and miniature horse. There are also three peacocks, seven turkeys, chickens, a 90-pound turtle and their dog, Betty. They had so many animals at one time that school children visited for a field trip.

Judy and Jere teach sixth grade Sunday school at First Baptist with about 50 kids, who enjoy visiting the farm for parties twice a year. Judy has been teaching Sunday school for over 30 years.

As Jere reflects on being a father, he said he feels blessed that he had a good dad. He said he feels fathers are needed in homes to teach kids right from wrong.

"I think one reason the country is in the shape it is now is because many homes don't have fathers," he said. "Kids are being raised by moms and grandmothers who hold down jobs 12 hours a day. You can't expect kids coming out of school without plans who never had a daddy to know how to be one."

Jere Jr., Tipi and Casey said they are thankful they have a wonderful father. Following are their comments about their father. Be sure to check their recipes and Judy's for gathering family around the table to share a good meal together.


"Most people that know my dad know him as Dr. Colley, but those under age 15 know him as ‘Papoo.’ I’m not sure what it means or where it originated, but I know exactly what comes to mind when people hear the name: fun, childlike, Honey's other half (my mom), sharer of gross animal and entertaining stories.

"Life with Papoo is and has never been boring. He's always been up for an adventure and sometimes, the more dangerous the better. Whether it's elk hunting on horseback, water skiing or cross-country trips with no destination planned, Papoo is always game, especially if it involves spending time with his grandkids. He loves being able to be a part of every aspect of their lives as he was ours.

"Most days — when he's not in a pickleball tournament — you can find him at one of the grandkids’ tennis matches, baseball games, bike races or volleyball games. He's always the fan cheering the loudest, eating popcorn and decked out in whatever team colors he's representing.

"If you look up in the stands he's hard to miss, sitting right beside Honey and surrounded by a bunch of kids that know him only as Papoo."


"Those that know my dad well understand that it's rather impossible to describe him in one article, much less a few sentences. Our childhood was anything but boring. We lived overseas for almost two years, my parents were foster parents when I was in high school, we’ve had as many animals as most zoos, and we’ve had family competitions in most every sport.

"Our adventures have included water rafting in Nepal, riding a bus from Egypt to Israel, waiting in line for six hours to see Wimbledon and arriving in India with no hotel reservations.

"When I think of my dad, the word that comes to mind is relationships. Dad has always found little ways to make people feel important. When I played sports in high school, he would write down the game stats and tape them to my bathroom mirror. When I went to college, he would take me and my friends to eat every Wednesday night.

"When I moved to Birmingham for a job, he would mail me newspaper articles that he ripped (not cut) out of the newspaper. As I have my own kids, I see the individual relationship my dad has with each of his grandchildren.

"When my dad practiced vet medicine, he would call every client that visited his office. This was the start to many friendships. Whether it's teaching sixth grade Sunday School, playing pickleball or attending numerous grandchildren activities, my dad continues to develop and value relationships."


"Writing about my dad has been more difficult than I thought. All I keep going back to about ‘my ole man’ is that he has always been there. I guess that pretty much says it all: ‘He has always been there.’ If it were easy times and things were as perfect as I could imagine this side of heaven, he was there cheering the loudest. If it were awful times, and I felt like I was in the darkest hole, ‘He was there.’

"We have had excellent times working on donkeys or on hunting trips; we have destroyed more trucks than the demolition derby. We sank canoes on the Saugahatchee, we have been lost in Canada just trying to cross the border, we have snuck baby goats, chickens, rabbits into hotels rooms on cold nights and we have been lost in the woods for hours.

"We have ‘fished’ awful beaver ponds in the middle of the summer looking for the big fish that just has to be there. We have had passionate disagreements over a multitude of things, yet he has always been there. The more I think about it from one daddy to my dad on this Father's Day, about as good a compliment as I can give another man is ‘He has always been there.’

"As a dad now of two adult children, I see the most important lesson learned from my dad is to always be there. I have never really looked at him as my father figure, I have always seen him as my Dad. Even though the dictionary says they are the same, it is wrong. As a daddy, we do not always have all the answers and we know it. About all we know for sure is we love our children passionately and desire for them grow into the adults God designed them to be.

"Our greatest deep dark fear is that somehow our actions will hamper them from becoming the amazing adult God designed them to be. As our children age, they get smarter and soon realize we don't have all the answers, but they do know with complete confidence we will always be there. Thanks, Dad."


Grilled Catfish

Judy Colley

I buy fresh whole catfish from Publix and marinated them in a zip lock bag for a few hours before we grill them.


1/2 stick melted butter

Juice of one lemon

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Liquid smoke

Splash of cooking wine

Sprinkling of Old Bay

Salt and pepper

Before lighting the grill, use a paper towel and apply Crisco to grill grate. Once grill is hot, lay the whole catfish on it and brush with marinade. The fish will be very delicate and tender, so try to turn only once. I use tongs and a spatula.

When it has grill marks on both sides, place on serving plate and cover tightly with aluminum foil. This brings out the best flavor and broth. Squeeze a lemon over before serving.


Orange Fluff Congealed Salad

Judy Colley

This is one of those dishes that I have to hide in the back of the refrigerator until serving time.

1 large box orange Jell-O

1/2 cup boiling water

1 small can crushed pineapple

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup Hellman's mayonnaise

1/2 cup toasted and chopped pecans

1 large container Cool Whip

Dissolve Jell-O in water. When cool, stir in remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously and pour into a dish. Refrigerate until congealed.


Annie's Old Fashion Tea Cakes

Tipi Colley Miller

My grandmother, Annie Ray, made these for church dinners at their church in Troy. The recipe was printed in their church cookbook many years ago. My daughter, Annie, has made this recipe so many times that she's memorized it.

½ cup shortening

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ½ cups all-purpose plain flour

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg and salt; then beat until creamy. Dissolve soda in vinegar and add to the mixture. Add vanilla and flour gradually to make a stiff batter.

Roll batter out very thin and cut to desired cookie size. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


Chicken Parmesan Stromboli

Tipi Colley Miller

This is a simple and good recipe for a busy school night.

4 frozen breaded chicken tenders

1 tube refrigerated pizza crust

8 slices mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. dried oregano

Marinara sauce, warmed

Prepare frozen chicken tenders according to package. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll pizza crust onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Layer with mozzarella cheese, chicken and Parmesan cheese within ½ inch of edge. Roll up jelly-roll style, pinch seam to seal and tuck ends under.

Combine olive oil and spices and brush over top. Bake until crust is dark golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before splicing. Serve with marinara sauce.


Griddle Pork Ramen Noodles

Jere Colley Jr.

1.5 lbs. pork tenderloin

2 pkg. ramen noodles

⅓ cup Bachan's Japanese Barbecue Sauce

Chopped green onion, to garnish

Vegetable oil, for griddle

Start griddle on high with a foil pan of water (about 2 inches).

Dice up pork tenderloin to cubes less than an inch thick.

Oil up griddle and add diced pork.

Open packets of ramen and discard seasoning packet. Add noodles to water. Stir frequently for 3 minutes or until soft.

Lower heat on pork to medium-high. Continue tossing pork as it browns. Once fully cooked, adjust burner to low heat, and add half of sauce.

Add noodles to pork (using a slotted spoon works best) and stir fry for a min or two. Mix in remaining sauce.

Plate and garnish with sliced green onions. Serves four.


Deer Rolls

Casey Colley Stewart

1 pkg. venison cube steaks

1 jar jalapenos

1 block cream cheese

1 pkg. bacon, cut slices in half

Italian dressing

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Marinade cube steak in Italian dressing, Worcestershire and pepper for 2 to 4 hours or overnight. Remove slices and lay flat. Place a slice of jalapeno and a slice of cream cheese on each. Roll up tightly and wrap 1/2 slice bacon around each, securing with a toothpick.

Grill for about 20 minutes. Turn frequently during grilling until done.


Venison Hamburgers

Casey Colley Stewart

1 lb. ground deer meat

1 medium chopped onion

1 pkg. dry ranch seasoning

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 egg

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Combine all ingredients and make into patties. Should make approximately 5 patties. Grill. The onions make the burgers juicier, and kids won't notice them.


Strawberry Pineapple Coleslaw

Tipi Colley Miller

This is one of our favorite summer dishes.

2 pkgs coleslaw mix

1 jar coleslaw salad dressing

1 cup salted cashews

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped pineapple

1 cup chopped sugar snap peas

1 cup chopped strawberries

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Combine all ingredients. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.


Smash Burgers with Ground Turkey

Judy Colley

Here is a recipe I cook often.

1 lb. ground turkey

1 pkg. dried Lipton's onion soup

1 egg

Southern flavor, charcoal

1/2 Italian breadcrumbs

Onion powder and garlic powder

Kitchen Bouquet Browning seasoning


Good hamburger buns

Mix all burger ingredients in a large bowl. Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball and flash freeze on a cookie sheet. Transfer to zip lock bag when frozen.

These thaw very quickly. When almost thawed, place on hot black iron skillet and smash down with spatula. Add thinly sliced onion to skillet and grill. Turn burger over and add a slice of cheese. Meanwhile, spread softened butter on inside of hamburger bun and grill in hot pan. Place burger in toasted bun and top with grilled onion. Then place a second burger on top and add more grilled onions. Top with toasted burger bun top.


Slow Cooker Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Tipi Colley Miller

This is a great dish to serve when you have company. We also love it for leftovers.

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

4 Tbsp. butter

2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup sour cream

1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup

½ tsp. salt

1 cup milk

½ tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. black pepper

Boil macaroni for 6 minutes and drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Heat of medium heat and stir until cheese melts. Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and stir. Cook on low for 2 to 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.


Egg Custard

Judy Colley

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

4 farm fresh eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup self-rising flour

2 cups whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 stick butter (no substitutions)

Beat together egg, sugar and butter. Add flour and milk. stir well. Pour into round Pyrex dish and bake for 30 minutes.


Barbeque Chicken

Marinate chicken pieces (we like quarters) in a mixture of Dale's Seasoning, oil and vinegar in a Ziplock bag for about 2 hours. Place chicken pieces on a hot grill and cook for about 20 minutes, turning once. Spoon barbeque sauce over chicken, turning only once.

When done, remove from heat and place on serving platter. Cover tightly with aluminum foil until ready to serve. Toast buttered Italian bread on grill and serve with chicken and sauce on the side.


Barbeque Sauce

Judy Colley

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 cup dried minced onion

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. Southern Flavor Seasoning

Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in saucepan. Add ketchup and vinegar, stir until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients.

CASEY COLLEY STEWART TIPI COLLEY MILLER JERE COLLEY JR. Grilled Catfish Marinade Orange Fluff Congealed Salad Annie's Old Fashion Tea Cakes Chicken Parmesan Stromboli Griddle Pork Ramen Noodles Deer Rolls Venison Hamburgers Strawberry Pineapple Coleslaw Smash Burgers with Ground Turkey Slow Cooker Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Egg Custard Barbeque Chicken Barbeque Sauce