In Memoriam

’48 Dr. Robert Hughes Hudgins, 100, of Statesville, N.C., died June 9, 2017. He was one of the first veterinarians to practice in Iredell County, N.C., working at a mixed animal practice from 1949 until he retired in 1986. Dr. Hudgins was the first member of his family to attend college. He attended Mars Hill College before transferring to North Carolina State University, where he received an undergraduate degree. He then came to Auburn, and told people for years his memory of being met at the Auburn Train Depot by a man sitting in a wagon that was pulled by a mule. Ever grateful for his education, Dr. Hudgins provided financial assistance to both NC State and Auburn. He was a veteran of World War II, serving as a medical corpsman in Panama. He later had the opportunity to take an Honor Flight to visit the WWII Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. A member of the First Baptist Church in Statesville, Dr. Hudgins was a charter member of the Statesville Exchange Club, a civic organization he served through various leadership roles. He is survived by his five children; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, and twin great-great-grandchildren on the way as this magazine went to press. 

’58 Dr. Donald Dean Bryan, 82, died June 3, 2017. Dr. Bryan served in the U.S. Air Force in Greenville, Miss., where he was the base veterinarian and achieved the rank of captain. He practiced veterinary medicine for 40 years in Columbia and Ardmore, Tenn.; and in Toney and Hazel Green, Ala. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Dianna Looney Bryan; and four children; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. 

’58 Dr. Wiley Hales, 83, of Birmingham, died June 21, 2017. Dr. Hales served in the U.S. Air Force after his Auburn graduation, then practiced for more than a half-century in Tuscaloosa. He was a member of the First Christian Church of Tuscaloosa, serving as an elder there for 42 years. He was a member and former officer with the Tuscaloosa Lions Club, and a member and served as president of the Alabama VMA. He received the 1991 Alabama Veterinarian of the Year Award. He is survived by two daughters; a sister; and two grandchildren. 

’58 Dr. Henry Tyler Fairleigh, 97, of Louisville, Ky., died Aug. 26, 2017. He was a veteran of the Army Air Force. After graduation, he opened a veterinary practice in Louisville’s St. Matthews community and for more than 40 years treated dogs, cats and any other animals brought to his attention. He was contracted by Lloyds of London to perform an examination on Louisville Zoo’s first rhinoceros. He later opened three other hospitals, including Louisville’s first 24-hour animal hospital. He had a zest for life that manifested itself in his love for travel and friendly inquisitiveness towards people. He and Jean House Fairleigh, who died in 2016 after they had been married for 70 years, traveled extensively around the globe, visiting an array of countries and encompassing all seven continents. They developed a network of friends in London, where they also had a home. He was a long-time University of Louisville football and basketball fan, traveling many miles on numerous occasions to support the teams. He split his loyalty with Auburn. His love for tennis was also evident with his many trips to London for Wimbledon. Dr. Fairleigh served as vice president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and was a member of the Greater Louisville VMA. He served as chair of the Kentucky Humane Society, as a board member of the Episcopal Church Home, and as chair of the Vestry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was a member of the Louisville Boat Club, Pendennis Club and the RAC Club of England. He was a Rotary Club member. He was an ardent supporter of Harbor House of Louisville, an organization that supports the needs of the disabled. His good friend, Louisville veterinarian Dr. Pat Kennedy ’71, said of Dr. Fairleigh, “Henry…has always been my favorite veterinarian and colleague. He had the most progressive practice in town when he owned and practiced at the original Fairleigh Animal Hospital…. And he loved veterinary medicine, loved people and always was ready to try something new in life.” He is survived by three sons and three grandchildren. 

’60 Dr. Charles Donald Baird, 80, of Birmingham died Sept. 25, 2017. Dr. Baird’s career, which spanned more than 50 years, included active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He operated Baird Animal Clinic in Bessemer and later Graysville Animal Clinic, both near Birmingham, before retiring in 2015. He was a long-time member of the Jefferson County VMA, a Rotarian, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association and a Golden Eagle. Dr. Baird is survived by a son; a daughter; and four grandchildren. 

’61 Dr. Paul C. Estes, 84, of Wakefield, R.I., died July 22, 2017. A Kentucky native, Dr. Estes graduated from Berea College, then served in the U.S. Army. He studied veterinary medicine at Auburn and at Iowa State University, and he received a doctorate in pathology from Cornell University. He worked for Pfizer in Gales Ferry, Conn., for years as a veterinary pathologist before retiring to Rhode Island. Dr. Estes is survived by a son; two daughters; and a grandson. 

’62 Harvey S. Gosser, 79, of Auburn died Oct. 12, 2017. He received his DVM in 1962 and a Master of Science degree in 1968 from Auburn before earning his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1970. His academic career took him to the University of Illinois (Champagne), LSU (Baton Rouge), University of Georgia (Tifton) and finally back to University of Missouri (Columbia), from which he retired in 2001. Professionally, he served as secretary-treasurer (1987-1996) and president (1997) of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. In 1994, he received the Pope Award for distinguished service from that same group. Upon retirement, he and his wife, Barbara, returned to Auburn. He was a Rotarian for more than 30 years. The threads that tied all of his life together were his service to the Presbyterian Church and his family. Every geographic stop during his career was characterized by faithful devotion, as he served as a deacon and /or elder of his congregation in each location. Dr. Gosser was dedicated to the College of Veterinary Medicine, contributing to and holding membership in the Centennial Club. He encouraged members of the Class of ’62 to establish an endowment fund to support the Cary Veterinary Library at the College, a project that was his idea.“Dr. Gosser was an outstanding veterinary diagnostician and administrator throughout his career,” Dean Calvin Johnson said. “He stayed close to the College of Veterinary Medicine as a dedicated alumnus and generous donor who coordinated the Class of 1962’s class fund in support of the library. Most recently, in 2016, he served as an external member of the college’s Admissions Committee where he provided valuable insight into the selection of Auburn’s CVM Class of 2020. He related well to students, faculty, and alumni. His warm, engaging personality will be remembered by us all.” He is survived by two sons and a granddaughter. 

63 Dr. Joseph Fred Whelan, Sr., 83, of Dickson, Tenn., died Aug. 15, 2017. Dr. Whelan was a Kentucky native and a U.S. Army veteran who practiced veterinary medicine for 48 years. He lettered in track and cross country at the University of Kentucky before coming to Auburn. Survivors include his wife, Jackie; four sons; a daughter; and a stepson. 

65 Dr. William “Buddy” W. Johnson, Jr., 76, died Sept. 16, 2016. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Dr. Johnson founded and owned Johnson Animal Clinic in Louisville, Ky., working there for 30 years. He was a member of Ascension Catholic Church. He is survived by two daughters; a son; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. 

’66 Dr. David Ellis Cardin died Aug. 6, 2017. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force and became the only medical officer to serve two terms in Vietnam. After that war, he attended Missouri State University, earning a master’s in public health. He served in the Air Force for more than 20 years, retiring in 1990 as a full colonel. He and his wife, the late Dr. Bettie Joe Cardin, opened Ellis Memorial Animal Hospital. Dr. Cardin was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. 

’70 Dr. James K. “Jim” Boutcher, 76, of Versailles, Ky., died Sept. 22, 2017. Dr. Boutcher spent 40 years caring for horses in Kentucky and in Japan. He was a lifetime member of the AVMA, the KVMA, the AAEP, former member and president of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, the Florida VMA, the Farm Managers Club, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Club, and the Thoroughbred Club of America. He was named a Chapter Farmer by the Woodford County FFA and was a founding member of the Woodford County chapter of Ducks Unlimited. He was a member of the First Christian Church of Versailles. Dr. Boutcher is survived by his wife, Sally Meers Boutcher; a daughter and son; and two grandsons. 

’71 Dr. Eugene A. Zeller, 70, died on Oct. 7, 2017, in his native New Orleans. Dr. Zeller “poured his heart and soul into practicing his profession in the Uptown New Orleans area for 46 years,” according to his obituary. He established Freret Veterinary Hospital and then relocated to the present Maple Small Animal Clinic. He mentored many local veterinarians, most notably his daughter, Dr. Emily Zeller Lemann. Dr. Zeller was a member of the AVMA, the Louisiana VMA and the Southeast Louisiana VMA, which he served as president on three occasions. He also served on the board of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He was a long-time member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and served on the church’s board of trustees. Dr. Zeller is survived by his wife, Carolyn Scherer Zeller; two daughters; and five grandchildren. 

’72 Dr. Max Murray Cooper, 79, of Savannah, Ga., died March 11, 2017. A Tennessee native, Dr. Cooper served four years in the U.S. Air Force before graduating from the University of Tennessee and then from Auburn with his DVM. Having grown up on a dairy farm, he often joked that he had had enough of cows, and so he focused his career on small animals. He started the Island Veterinary Clinic on Wilmington Island, Ga., and was loved and highly respected by his colleagues, clients and patients. Dr. Cooper is survived by a son and daughter and grandchildren. 

’73 Dr. Michael Wesley Thomas, 69, of Starkville, Miss., died Sept. 3, 2017. A veteran of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, Dr. Thomas worked in private practice in Florida before pursuing a residency at Texas A&M University, where he earned board certification in radiology. He was a member of the AVMA, the Mississippi VMA, and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology. Dr. Thomas held appointments at multiple veterinary colleges and concluded his career at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. After retiring from MSU, he worked as a consultant with Antech Imaging. He is survived by his sister and nephews. 

’74 Dr. G. Patrick Coffeen, 69, of Franklin, Tenn., died Aug. 4, 2017. Dr. Coffeen served in the U.S. Army and was the first charter owner for Banfield Pet Hospital, opening up Banfield’s first hospital in April 1999. He was awarded Banfield’s Charter of the Year Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region in 2014. His interest in and pursuit of complex surgeries resulted in Banfield asking him to train and mentor a number of veterinarians. He practiced veterinary medicine for 41 years before retiring. In 2015, he trained for and ran the Nashville Marathon to raise money for the Banfield Foundation and its charitable causes. He is survived by his wife, Carol A. Wilcox Coffeen; one son; three daughters; and a granddaughter. 

’01 Dr. Brian Atwell, 44, died Aug. 10, 2017. Originally from Florida, he lived the past 11 years in Maui, Hawaii. In addition to his DVM, Dr. Atwell also held a master’s degree in zoological science from Auburn. A United States Coast Guard captain, Dr. Atwell was a licensed pilot and certified dive master. His obituary published in the Anniston Star described Dr. Atwell as a “dedicated and renowned veterinarian whose passion for animals was fostered through his work in both his professional and personal life. His strength of character and unwavering work ethic were demonstrated through his commitment to building a dependable and respected business.” He is survived by his partner, Lizzie Immarino; his parents; and a brother.