In Memoriam, Dr. Roy Bellhorn

Roy Bellhorn

In Memoriam, Dr. Roy Bellhorn

Courtesy of the Davis Enterprise

We mourn the passing of Dr. Roy Bellhorn, an avid educator, clinician, researcher, philanthropist, volunteer and chorister. He was a kind man with a gentle sense of humor, and will be missed by his colleagues, friends, and family.

Roy Bellhorn grew up in Detroit and attended Michigan State University (MSU) for his undergraduate degree (1954) and his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (1956). Upon graduation, he worked for the USDA, then joined the US Army Veterinary Corps, attaining the rank of captain.

From 1960 to 1965 he was staff ophthalmologist and consultant at the Animal Medical Center, H. Bergh Memorial Hospital (ASPCA) in New York. During that time, he obtained his MSc in ophthalmology from New York University’s Post Graduate School of Medicine, and in 1965 joined the faculty there. He developed veterinary ophthalmology referral practices in New York and New Jersey and consulted for the pharmaceutical industry. In 1970 he joined the department of ophthalmology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., and consulted for the New York Zoological Society’s zoos and aquarium.

In 1984, he left Einstein to join the faculty at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. As professor, he continued his research, instructed veterinary students (Distinguished Teacher of the Year, 1991), trained comparative ophthalmology residents, and provided clinical services to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and the California Regional Primate Research Center.

He also served as chief of the Comparative Ophthalmology Service and associate director of Small Animal Clinics at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. With Drs. Michael Floyd and Leigh West-Hyde, he developed a model clinical and academic program in veterinary dentistry at UC Davis. In 1994 he retired as Professor Emeritus from the Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences. Roy’s research included eye diseases of domestic and exotic animal species and abnormalities of the blood vessels providing nutrition to the retina.

Roy received an alumni research award from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine (2014), and an emeriti research award from UC Davis (2015-16). He was President of the American Society of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (1968-69) and a Founding Father and Charter Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, also serving on the ACVO Board of Regents (1970-76, President 1975-76).

In retirement Roy continued his interests in barbershop and other choral group singing and participated in community service organizations including Meals on Wheels, English as a Second Language, and Reach Out and Read. His beloved life partner for 56 years was Margaret (Maggie) S. Burns (1939-2024).

He is survived by sisters Donna Snell and Jan Fienen and families. Memorial contributions may be made to his and Maggie’s Wide Wide World Fund (, or to his Sustainable Livestock Fund in Western Kenya ( A remembrance and reflection will be held at the University Retirement Community, 1515 Shasta Drive in Davis on April 26 at 2 p.m.