In Memoriam—Dr. Michael Floyd '61

Dr Floyd with students
Dr. Michael Floyd at an Evening of Gratitude event with student scholarship recipients, many of them supported by his generosity.

In Memoriam—Dr. Michael Floyd '61

Provided by Nancy Ehrlich

Dr. Michael Floyd, a pioneer of modern veterinary dentistry and a passionate supporter of student scholarships, passed away peacefully at the age of 85 on January 5, 2022, surrounded by his wife Nancy, his children and his grandchildren. 

Michael was born in Spokane, WA, but moved at a young age to California, where his family ultimately settled in Berkeley. He was an enterprising young man, selling his mother’s pastries door to door to help support the family, as well as working at a variety of other jobs. Perhaps the most meaningful job he had as a young man was being a kennel boy at Berkeley Dog & cat Hospital under the tutelage of Dr. Jim Roberts. 

He was also a good student, defying the prediction of his high school counselor that a working-class boy like him would never succeed in college. In spite of the bad advice, he was accepted early to UC Berkeley, majoring in chemistry, and went on to UC Davis where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1961. During that time, Michael was married to Winnie and had two daughters, Lorraine (Lori) and Theresa (Teri). 

After graduation, he went to work for Dr. Roberts. However, he found Dr. Roberts’ practice too old fashioned for his new-found ways, so he moved on to work for Dr. Floyd Ziegler at the Broadway Pet Clinic. After a year, Michael decided to start his own practice in Albany, being the first veterinarian to practice in that city. He also had another daughter with Winnie, Sharyn (Shari). 

After seven years in practice, Michael decided that he needed more education.  He tried to find a position at UC Davis, but as they had no internship or residency programs at the time, he applied to schools in the UK. By this time, he had divorced Winnie and married Susan. They lived in Hampsted, England while Michael worked as a house surgeon at the Royal Veterinary College in London. He learned some new procedures, including bone plating, which he brought back with him when he returned to the US after a year. After returning from London, Susan and Michael had a daughter, Sara. However, he worked very long hours, which took a toll on his marriage. Susan and he divorced shortly after.

At this point, Michael and Nancy started what would become a 51-year relationship, with Nancy and Michael working together for the rest of their careers. Nancy went on to become one of the first licensed veterinary technicians in California and Michael went on to become one of the first veterinary dentists in the US.

After many years, Michael decided to sell his Albany practice and move his dental practice to Orinda. Gerry Dzendzel, one of his outstanding veterinary technicians, had gone on to become a veterinarian. Gerry invited Michael to move his dental practice to a newly created space in his facility. Thus, the Orinda Veterinary Dental Service was created. Michael and Nancy worked there together until they retired.

Michael devoted the rest of his life to helping others succeed in veterinary medicine, the career that he credited with giving him an incredible life. He became a significant benefactor to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine – creating the first veterinary dental suite which bears his name. He also created a scholarship program for veterinary students to help with their tuition. He was honored to have the grand atrium of the Gladys Valley Hall, where the veterinary students gather, named Floyd Commons in his honor.

He was extremely proud to have received the 1991 Alumni Achievement Award for his “Pioneering Efforts in the Field of Veterinary Dentistry,” and both the CVMA’s “RVT’s Outstanding DVM of the Year and the “Fellow of the Year” from the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry in 2000. He was also named Chancellor’s Laureate, one of UC Davis’ highest honors.

As Michael wrote in his autobiography for his 50th class reunion, “I have had a great career, a great marriage to my partner and recognition from my peers for my accomplishments. Life doesn’t get any better than that.”

A memorial service is being planned. 

Primary Category