Dr. John Gorham Fellowship and Scholarship
The Dr. John R. Gorham Fellowship in Veterinary Medicine was
established to foster the education and scientific curiosity of graduate
students studying animal diseases and to honor one of our most
distinguished faculty members.
The Dr. John R. Gorham Comparative Medicine Scholarship
Endowment is awarded to a student enrolled full-time in the
professional veterinary medicine who best demonstrates an
interest in laboratory animal medicine or comparative medicine,
and has performed research or clinical investigations in these
fields in an exemplary fashion.
Dr. John Gorham was a professor of veterinary microbiology
and pathology at Washington State University’s College of
Veterinary Medicine, and held the longest tenure of any faculty
member ever employed in the college. Since he received his DVM
degree from WSU in 1946, he continuously taught, conducted
research, and provided service for the profession, the USDA, and
the University. Virtually every living WSU veterinary alumnus in
the world had at least one lecture during their professional
training delivered by Dr. Gorham.
Those of us who knew John, knew his commitment to unmatched
teaching and research; we believe there is no better way to
honor his dedication to WSU and the college, than to support a
fellowship or scholarship in his name.
For questions about giving, contact Lynne Haley, Director of
Development, at (509) 335-5021 or
John Richard Gorham, a resident of Pullman for 69 years, died
of age-related causes Oct. 14 at Bishop Place where he had lived
for six years.
Gorham was born on Dec. 19, 1922, to Richard and Mae Gorham
in Puyallup, Wash. He was reared and educated in Sumner, Wash.
Following graduation from Sumner High School, he attended
Washington State College (now University) where he was a member
of WSU's freshman basketball team. He received a bachelor's
degree, and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from WSC. He
also received a master's degree, the first given at Washington
State University in veterinary medicine. In 1952 he received a
doctorate from the University of Wisconsin.
While at Washington State College, he married Mary Ellen
Martin on May 23, 1944. During World War II, he served in the
Army while attending veterinary school. Gorham also served in
the Army Reserve as a major and continued to serve in the Army
Reserve Veterinary Corps.
Following graduation, he was employed by the U.S. Department
of Agriculture and was research leader for animal diseases at
Pullman. He held this position until 1995 when he retired from
the USDA. Until his death in 2011, he held the position of
professor in the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2011 he
was named a WSU Diamond Donor for 50 years of contributing to
the WSU Foundation. He and his wife have a plaque in the Walk of
Fame in downtown Pullman.
He was a charter member of the American College of Veterinary
Microbiologists, a charter member of the American College of
Laboratory Medicine and an honorary member of the American
College of Veterinary Pathology. He was elected to membership in
the National Academies of Practice and an overseas member of the
British Royal Society of Medicine as well as the Japanese
Society for the Promotion of Science. He was the author or
co-author of 700 publications. Two virus strains are named for
Gorham, Aleutian disease and distemper.
Gorham was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Phi
Kappa Phi and Phi Zeta. He also was a past president of the
Cougar Club, a member of the WSU Foundation and a retired member
of Good Fellowship. In 1975 he led the first veterinary
delegation to the Soviet Union.
Gorham received many honors during his lifetime including the
Gaines Medal and also the International Veterinary Award given
by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinarian of
the Year Award from the Washington State Veterinary Medical
Association, the Washington State University Alumni Achievement
Award, Fur Farming Industry's Hall of Fame, USDA's Distinguished
Scientist of the Year (1991), the first veterinarian inducted
into the USDA Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame and the
Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State
University's highest alumni honor. He also was named a Legend in
Veterinary Medicine, was initiated into the USDA's Hall of Fame
and he received the Gold Headed Cane award from the Society for
In 2007 after he retired, he received the American Veterinary
Medical Association's Lifetime Excellence in Research Award
given to one veterinarian in the United States each year.
During his lifetime, Gorham traveled to more than 50
countries to advise foreign research programs. He represented
the United States as chairman of the Biotechnology Committee of
the World Health Organization and was on other international
He was a world authority on fur animal and canine diseases
and contributed significantly to slow virus disease research.
His most important contributions included discovery of a new
rickettsial disease of dogs, control of nutritional diseases of
mink, laboratory tests for dog and mink diseases and a spray
vaccine used for immunization of at least 20 million mink
worldwide each year. Two animal virus strains and a virus
technique were named for Gorham.
He was an enthusiastic gardener, enjoyed fishing and camping
and he traveled extensively in a Born Free motor home. He was a
ham radio operator (W7MEH), a hobby he started when he was in
high school. He was an ardent supporter of WSU's football and
basketball programs and seldom missed Pac-10 home games.
His philosophy was expressed in many lectures he gave:
- Research is a great life.
- You meet a lot of interesting people.
- You work in a warm room.
- You don't have to lift anything heavy.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years at their Bishop Place
cottage; one daughter, Katherine and her husband, Roscoe Caron;
one son, Dr. Jay Gorham and his wife, Karla; and two
granddaughters, Lindsay Thompson and Casey Vogt.
At his request, no service will be held. Memorials are
suggested to the Comparative Medicine Scholarship, College of
Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, PO Box 647010,
Pullman, WA 99164.