Posted Jan. 15, 2009
Dr. Harry J. Magrane Jr. of Mishawaka, Ind., died Nov. 8, 2008, at the age of 89. A moving force in organized veterinary medicine, he served as AVMA president from 1975-1976. His contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations won him the AVMA Award in 1978.
After receiving his DVM degree in 1943 from Texas A&M University, Dr. Magrane served in the Cavalry during World War II with the Army Veterinary Corps in Africa and Italy, inspecting animals to provide safe food for the troops. While assigned to Allied Force Headquarters he wrote “The History of the Mediterranean Theater of Operation.” His final months of military service were spent in Rome, where the Italian government decorated him for aiding orphans.
In 1946 he joined his father, Dr. Harry J. Magrane Sr. (MCK ’13), and brother, Dr. William G. Magrane (MSU ’40), in practice at Magrane Animal Hospital in Mishawaka, established in 1915. William, who died in 1995, was known internationally as father of the specialty of veterinary ophthalmology.
Harry became sole owner in 1966, rebuilding the hospital with a facility named Hospital of the Year by Veterinary Economics magazine in 1972. He also lectured in the U.S., England, and Japan. In 1979 he sold his practice and retired as director emeritus. He remained semiactive at Magrane Pet Medical Center—as it was renamed when moved to a new location several years ago—conducting a tour just three days before his death.
Dr. Magrane was president of the Indiana VMA and Michiana VMA, based in South Bend. During his presidency, the IVMA adopted a new constitution and created a scholarship fund. He drafted legislation, passed by the legislature in 1961, making Indiana the first to require appointment of veterinarians to city and county health boards.
He was a regional continuing education director for the American Animal Hospital Association. He was president of the Mishawaka Kiwanis Club and established the club’s Scholarship Loan Foundation.
An AVMA honor roll member, Dr. Magrane served on and chaired the Council on Veterinary Service. As Executive Board chairman he implemented the House of Delegates decision to search for a permanent headquarters site. He was instrumental in creating a veterinary exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
As AVMA president, Dr. Magrane focused on many issues relevant today. He called for closer liaison with the Student AVMA, greater use of animal technicians, nomination of qualified “women and black veterinarians” for AVMA positions, equitable pay for federal veterinarians, an economic study of manpower needs, and an increased pool of food animal veterinarians.
In his hospital he put his convictions into practice. Dr. Kathleen Neuhoff of Magrane Pet Medical Center was hired by him in 1977 while a second-year veterinary student at Purdue University. She said, “We had a consistent stream of externs and students come through the practice, and that has continued to the present day. Dr. Harry was also quite open to women as veterinarians, long before it was popular.”
According to Dr. Neuhoff, at a time when Purdue’s veterinary school did not accept applications from women, Dr. Magrane persuaded the university president to allow two female aspirants to apply, and in 1960 they were admitted on the basis of their qualifications.
“Dr. Harry also believed in the importance of veterinary technicians and educating the entire staff. We had technicians from the first class that graduated from Purdue,” she said. “That has carried through, and he has left a heritage in our community. Our Michiana VMA has technicians as full members—in fact, last year’s president was a licensed technician.”
The first veterinarian to serve on the Humane Society of St. Joseph County board of directors, Dr. Magrane helped improve Michiana VMA’s relationship with the society. The society’s facility is located on land donated by the Magranes, which according to Dr. Neuhoff is now quite valuable.
“Dr. Harry felt we all owed organized veterinary medicine a great deal, and there have been many national leaders produced by the Michiana VMA,” said Dr. Neuhoff, a former AAHA president herself.
“Our community still has a very collegial atmosphere, and that was a great deal because of Dr. Magrane and a couple other giants in the profession such as his brother. They always viewed other veterinarians as colleagues rather than competitors.”
Designation as a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest civilian award given by the state of Indiana, was conferred on Dr. Magrane in 1976. That year he was also named Indiana Veterinarian of the Year. In 1991 Purdue University presented him with an honorary Doctor of Science Degree for his “wise leadership in the establishment of its School of Veterinary Medicine.”
Dr. Magrane is survived by a daughter, two sons, two stepsons, and a stepdaughter. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of St. Joseph County, 2506 Grape Road, Mishawaka, IN 46545; or to the Kiwanis Club of Mishawaka Indiana Scholarship Fund, c/o National City Bank of Mishawaka, 202 Lincoln Way E., Mishawaka, IN 46544.