Archived News


November 15, 2004

November 15, 2004

Dr. Don LowDonald Low, a professor emeritus and pioneering expert on animal kidney diseases at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, died peacefully Nov. 7 at the University Retirement Center in Davis following a long illness with Lewy body disease, a degenerative neurological disorder. He was 79.

A memorial service will be held in his honor at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, in UC Davis' Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center.

"Dr. Low was a very popular faculty member who played a significant role in the development of a number of programs in the veterinary school," said Bennie Osburn, dean of UC Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine. "As director of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, he was instrumental in fostering veterinary specialties and residency training that has since evolved into the largest veterinary residency program in the world."

Known by many in his profession as the "father of veterinary urology," Low was born and raised in Colorado. He received his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1947 at Kansas State University. After spending three years in private veterinary practice in Iowa, he entered academic veterinary medicine, serving as a clinician at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1944, in the Merchant Marines from 1944 to 1945 and as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1953 to 1955.

In 1950, he began what would be a 20-year tenure on the veterinary faculty at the University of Minnesota, including service as director of veterinary clinics and head of the Department of Veterinary Hospitals. While at the University of Minnesota he developed a special interest in renal diseases and physiology. His studies in nephrology produced many of the fundamental concepts that veterinarians still use today.

In 1971 Low joined the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University, where he served for four years as head of the Department of Clinical Sciences and director of CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital of Veterinary Sciences.

In 1974, he came to UC Davis as director of the campus's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, a position he held until 1980. He served as associate dean for instruction in the veterinary school from 1982-83 and as associate dean of public programs from 1983 until his retirement in 1991. After retiring, he was recalled for two years to work on development and continuing education projects

Dean Osburn noted that as associate dean for academic programs, Low was responsible for overseeing the veterinary school's curriculum and as associate dean for public programs he pioneered the development of continuing education for veterinary professionals.

Low was a founding father of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the Society of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology, and the discipline of veterinary medicine in the National Academies of Practice.

He was the co-author of the book "Canine and Feline Urology" and a contributing author or editor for numerous other texts. He published more than 110 articles and lectured at more than 240 conferences and seminars around the world.

He received numerous honors over the years, including being named Veterinarian of the Year in 1971 by the American Animal Hospital Association. He also received the 1968 Norden Distinguished Teaching Award and the 1989 Distinguished Service Award, both from the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine. He also received the California Veterinary Medical Association's President's Award, Continuing Educator Award and Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was the recipient of Kansas State University's Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Wild West Veterinary Conference Distinguished Service Award and the Kirk Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

In 1997, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Veterinary Medical Association created the Donald G. Low/CVMA Practitioner Fellowship. This unique program annually supports approximately 12 practicing veterinarians for four weeks each of refresher training and professional exchange at UC Davis' Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and other units of the school. It also serves as a permanent reminder to the veterinary profession of Low's lifelong passion for the importance of the ongoing education of veterinarians.

In addition to his professional accomplishments and dedication to his work, Low is remembered by friends and family members for his insatiable intellectual curiosity and his gift of humor.

"He believed in the concept of serving rather than being served, and he provided service to his family, friends and colleagues, as well as to animals," said his daughter, Cheryl Wise.

Low is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jane Low of Winters; his sister, Lorene Bowling; and brother, Del Low. He also leaves six children, Ron Low and his wife, Diane; Ray Low; Chris Low; Cheryl Wise and her husband, Jerry; Suzie Barbour and her husband, Tom; and Kitty Ratcliff and her husband, Rick. He also is survived by six grandsons, Jim, Philip, Dan and Steven Low, and Rainey and Tolmie Ratcliff, as well as many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his sister, Luella Carr, and his son, Richard Low.

The family prefers that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to the Don Low/CVMA Practitioner Fellowship, Office of Public Programs, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616; phone (530) 752-6895, or to Yolo Hospice, 132 E St., Suite 3E, Davis, CA 95616; phone (530) 758-5566.

This news release was originally distributed by UC Davis News Service.

[Editor's note: Digital images of Don Low may be obtained from Pat Bailey, News Service, (530) 752-9843,]

Media contact(s):

* Lynn Narlesky, Vet. Med. Dean's Office, (530) 752-5257,

* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,