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Former president of AVMA, WVA dies

Leon Russell, DVM, PhD, dedicated his life to education and research

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Leon Russell, DVM, PhD.
Leon Russell, DVM, PhD.

The veterinary industry has lost a mentor, educator, and trailblazer with the recent passing of Leon Russell, DVM, PhD.

A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM), Dr. Russell served as president for the World Veterinary Association (WVA), as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA).

“Personally, I am proud to have known Dr. Russell,” said AVMA president, John de Jong, DVM. “He was a mentor to so many of our leaders in showing us exemplary leadership, wisdom, humility, and grace.”

With a PhD in veterinary microbiology and a master’s degree in public health, Russell dedicated his life to teaching and researching issues related to public health, epidemiology, medical mycology, zoonotic diseases, and food toxicology. In 1959, he joined the faculty of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to launch an epidemiology course for students.

Russell received many awards and recognitions in his more than 60-year career, including a WVA honorary membership from the AVMA, a Distinguished Career Award from the TVMA, and the Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

Further, while serving as WVA president, he worked to increase the association’s participation with other international organizations.

“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,” said Dr. de Jong. “We’re going to miss his dedication and kindness, and we’ll forever be grateful for his contributions to our profession.”

Services will be held June 25 at the Hillier Funeral Home of Bryan in Texas.

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