John Herrick 1919-2007

John Herrick
Published on June 15, 2007
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The AVMA's 90th president, Dr. John B. Herrick, died May 17 at the age of 87.

An Iowa native, Dr. Herrick received his DVM degree from Iowa State University in 1946. After a period of practicing large animal medicine, he joined the ISU faculty and spent 35 years as a professor of veterinary clinical science and an extension veterinarian in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

After retiring Jan. 1, 1983, he moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he was an animal health consultant.

An AVMA honor roll member, Dr. Herrick was president of the Association from 1969-1970. In his presidential address to the House of Delegates, he said veterinary medicine can contribute solutions to the two major problems of the future—the need for food and the control of factors that affect the environment. He asked that AVMA long-range planning focus on them.

Deeply concerned with the environment, Dr. Herrick served on the AVMA Executive Board's Committee on Environmental Health while immediate past president. He also chaired the environmental health committee of the Iowa Comprehensive Health Planning Advisory Council in the 1970s. Dr. Herrick encouraged veterinarians to offer their expertise to help solve environmental problems.

His service to the AVMA included terms on the Council on Veterinary Service and the former Continuing Education Advisory Committee. In 1979, the CEAC awarded him its first Veterinary Continuing Educator Award.

Dr. Herrick used movies, television, radio, textbooks, professional journals, and newsletters to communicate information about veterinary medicine and environmental health.

In 1989, he and Dr. Albert J. Koltveit, who was AVMA editor-in-chief, initiated a column on food animal medicine for JAVMA that Dr. Herrick continued to write until 1998. Drs. Herrick and Koltveit became close colleagues and friends.

"I knew Dr. Herrick as a dauntless crusader for various worthwhile causes, some of which were not immensely popular for the times," Dr. Koltveit said. "For example, he staunchly advocated preconditioning for feeder calves, despite early skepticism of the concept's economic benefit to ranchers. And he spoke out against rodeo competition, much to the consternation of enthusiastic rodeo fans.

"Yes, he was a crusader of the most persistent sort for the health and welfare of all creatures great and small. But utmost to his credit, he was a devoted spokesman for all veterinarians associated with progress in food animal medicine, as manifested through the JAVMA feature Food for Thought for Food Animal Veterinarians, which he kept going for many years. For that, perhaps, he will be best remembered."

His introductory column in 1989 was a commentary titled "Where did the art of practice go?" Readers responded to his amiable style and observations on topics ranging from consolidation and why producers don't use veterinarians to safe meat and changing times for food animal practitioners.

Dr. Herrick chaired the 1969 meeting that resulted in formation of the organization now known as the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. He was a prime motivator in creation of the National Mastitis Council and what is now the Society for Theriogenology. He worked closely with the organization now called the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners.

Other organizational contributions were serving as president of the Iowa VMA and American Association of Extension Veterinarians. The AAEV honored Dr. Herrick as its first Extension Veterinarian of the Year, in 1970. He lectured in every state and more than 50 foreign countries, and formulated disease control programs still practiced throughout the United States.

He was a vice president of the Pan American Veterinary Congress and presented papers at the World Veterinary Congress in Spain.

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners named Dr. Herrick its Bovine Practitioner of the Year in 1985. As chairman of the Health Committee of the National Association of Animal Breeders, he assisted in formation of minimum standards of artificial insemination units in the United States. While on the National Brucellosis Committee, he received the USDA Award for his efforts to eradicate brucellosis in cattle. As chairman of the Abnormal Milk Committee of the National Mastitis Council, he was instrumental in recognition of the somatic cell count as a regulatory procedure in quality milk control.

Dr. Herrick's contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations won him the AVMA Award—the Association's highest honor—in 1987.

Other awards included the Gamma Sigma Delta Award for Distinguished Service to Agriculture and the 1974 Meritorious Award from the organization now known as National Institute for Animal Agriculture.

Dr. Herrick chaired the Infectious Diseases of Cattle Committee of the U.S. Animal Health Association and many state livestock disease control committees. He was a member of the AVMA committee on artificial insemination and helped develop the use of artificial insemination in Iowa.

Dr. Herrick was survived by his 14 children, but on June 2, his eldest son, John Nicholas, died. The surviving children are Joyce, Jody, James, Jeffrey, Jennifer, Jerome, Julie, Jacqueline, Dirk, Gregg, Scott, Ann, and Beth. Memorial contributions designated as contributions in Dr. Herrick's memory may be made to the Development Office, Iowa State University, 2522 College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, IA 50011.