In Memory – April 13, 2023

Member status key:

AVMA member | AVMA honor roll member | Nonmember

Robert H. Busch

Dr. Busch (Minnesota ’62), 87, New Ulm, Minnesota, died January 26, 2023. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, he served as a veterinary pathologist and consultant for the past 25 years. Dr. Busch previously worked 15 years as a senior pathologist for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. During his career, he also practiced large animal medicine; served as an associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine; was an assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine; and served as a visiting professor at the University of Oregon College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Busch was a member of the Minnesota VMA. He served in the Army during the Korean War. Dr. Busch is survived by his wife, Joan; three sons; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a brother.

Margaret P. Fowler

Dr. Fowler (Louisiana State ’81), 65, Newberry, Florida, died January 12, 2023. Certified in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, she owned a holistic veterinary practice in Panama City Beach, Florida, for several years. She also served as a laboratory instructor, lecturer, and online consultant at the Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida, since 2014.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Fowler was an associate veterinarian at Kempsville Animal Hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia; served as a relief veterinarian in northwest Florida; worked at PAWS Animal Hospital in Panama City Beach; and was director of veterinary services at Zoo World in Panama City Beach.

She co-authored and co-edited the book “Integrative and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Food Therapy.” Dr. Fowler is survived by a son, a grandchild, a brother, and a sister.

Melissa K. Jennings

Dr. Jennings (Louisiana State ’09), 43, Spring, Texas, died March 17, 2023. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and certified in canine rehabilitation, she practiced at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston. Dr. Jennings previously worked in Florida at Florida Veterinary Referral Center & 24-Hour Emergency Hospital in Estero and Coral Springs Animal Hospital in Coral Springs. She is survived by her mother, father, stepmother, a sister, and three stepsiblings. Memorials may be made to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, P.O. Box 7247, Philadelphia, PA 19170, ctf.org.

Laird W. Laurence

Dr. Laurence (Texas A&M ’78), 68, Fredericksburg, Texas, died February 14, 2023. Following graduation, he worked a few years in east Texas. In the early 1980s, Dr. Laurence established Hill Country Veterinary Clinic in Fredericksburg, where he practiced for more than 30 years. He also served as a consultant for pharmaceutical companies and cattle operations.

In 1989, Dr. Laurence was named Texas VMA Food Animal Practitioner of the Year. He is survived by a son, a daughter, a sister, and a brother. Memorials may be made to the Hill Country Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2981 S. Highway 16, Fredericksburg, TX 78624, or Pedernales Animal Welfare Society, P.O. Box 2794, Fredericksburg, TX 78624.

John D. Olsen

Dr. Olsen (Kansas State ’61), 87, Layton, Utah, died February 26, 2023. He was a research veterinarian at the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Services’ Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah, until 2000. Dr. Olsen is survived by his wife, Carole; two sons and two daughters; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Lincoln J. Parkes

Dr. Parkes (Colorado State ’57), 94, Oxford, Maryland, died February 7, 2023. Following graduation, he practiced briefly in Boulder, Colorado, before joining the Animal Medical Center in New York City. From 1964-71, Dr. Parkes served on the veterinary faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. During that time, he conducted research on bone healing and collagen, in conjunction with the university’s School of Medicine. Dr. Parkes went on to establish a veterinary orthopedic referral practice in Philadelphia, developing the concept of pet wheelchairs and founding the K-9 Cart Co. He retired in 1991.

Dr. Parkes was a member of the Veterinary Orthopedic Society and the Eastern Veterinary Orthopedic Society.  In 1971, he was a co-recipient of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Kappa Delta & Orthopaedic Research Education Foundation Award. Dr. Parkes served in the Naval Air Corps at the end of World War II. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Dara L. Kraitchman (Pennsylvania ’92), also a veterinarian; a daughter; and a grandchild. Memorials may be made to the DVM Class of 1957 Scholarship, Colorado State University Foundation, P.O. Box 1870, Fort Collins, CO 80522.

Steve St. John

Dr. St. John (Illinois ’75), 73, Port Richey, Florida, died September 7, 2022. He practiced small animal medicine in Port Richey for more than 40 years, also caring for sick and injured wildlife in the area. Dr. St. John is survived by his wife, Deedee; a son and two daughters; five grandchildren; and a brother, Dr. Ken St. John (Illinois ’73), also a veterinarian.

Memorials may be made to Tunnel to Towers, an organization honoring American’s first responders, veterans, and their families, and sent to 2361 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island, NY 10306, t2t.org; Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian aid organization, and sent to P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607, samaritanspurse.org; or Owls Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, 18707 Rustic Woods Trail,Odessa, FL 33556, owlsnestsanctuaryforwildlife.com.

Merlin J. Van Zee

Dr. Van Zee (Iowa State ’03), 45, Danville, Iowa, died March 2, 2023. He co-owned Summer Street Animal Clinic in Burlington, Iowa, for 20 years. Dr. Van Zee also taught biology at Great River Christian School in Burlington and volunteered with Hetta Gilbert, a charitable organization helping children in the area with medical needs. He is survived by his wife, Magon; three children; his parents; and a sister. Memorials may be made to Crossroads Community Church, 315 Jefferson St., Burlington, IA 52601, or to the Merlin Van Zee Memorial Fund, c/o Summer Street Animal Clinic, 6457 Summer St., Burlington, IA 52601.

A version of this article appears in the June 2023 print issue of JAVMA.

Please report the death of a veterinarian promptly to the AVMA News staff via a toll-free phone call at 800-248-2862, ext. 6754; email at newsatavma [dot] org (news[at]avma[dot]org); or fax at 847-925-9329. For an obituary to be published, AVMA News must be notified within six months of the date of death.