Dr. Leon Russell, former AVMA and WVA president, dies

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Dr. Leon RussellDr. Leon Russell, former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the first American president of the World Veterinary Association (WVA), has died.

"Personally, I am proud to have known Dr. Russell," said AVMA President, Dr. John de Jong. "He was a mentor to so many of our leaders in showing us exemplary leadership, wisdom, humility, and grace. Dr. Russell was an incredible trailblazer for veterinary medicine and our entire profession is better off because of his dedication to advocating for veterinary medicine on the global stage. We're going to miss his dedication and kindness, and we'll forever be grateful for his contributions to our profession."

Dr. Russell was a professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where he joined the faculty in 1959 to launch an epidemiology course for veterinary students.

Dr. Russell was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, and also held a Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology and a master's in public health. He dedicated his life to teaching and researching important issues in public health, epidemiology, medical mycology, zoonotic diseases, and food toxicology.

Throughout his career, Dr. Russell was active in organized veterinary medicine. He served as president of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and as president of the AVMA. In 2005, he was elected as the first American president of the WVA. As WVA president, he paid special attention to promoting increased WVA participation with other international organizations.

Dr. Russell received many awards and recognitions during his career, including a WVA honorary membership from the AVMA, the Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and a Distinguished Career award from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Russell's services will be held at the Hillier Funeral Home of Bryan on June 25, with visitation beginning at 11:30 a.m. CT. He will be interned in the Aggie Field of Honor and College Station Memorial Cemetery.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.