Remembering Dr. Charles Hjerpe


Remembering Dr. Charles Hjerpe

Dr. Charles Hjerpe, professor emeritus at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, passed away December 24, 2023. He was 89 years old.

Dr. Hjerpe graduated from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1958. He worked in private, mixed species veterinary practices for five years before coming to UC Davis in 1963. Dr. Hjerpe was a professor of large animal medicine at UC Davis for 31 years, retiring in 1994. During his time at the veterinary school, he served as director of the school’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for 14 years and played a pivotal role in the creation of the school’s Veterinary Medicine Teaching & Research Center in Tulare.

Following retirement, Dr. Hjerpe was a Fulbright Scholar in Portugal in 1994-95 where he provided guidance on establishing/managing veterinary hospitals.

This 2004 UC Davis interview with Dr. Hjerpe discusses his career at the university, including important people and events that shaped his interests and scholarship, as well as his experiences, relationships, and accomplishments as a member of the university and the local community.

Dr. Hjerpe is survived by his wife Sue; children Laura Hjerpe (Andrew White), Carl Hjerpe (Lynette), and Kim Hallford (Philip); and six grandchildren.

Remembrance from Dr. Donald Klingborg, Associate Dean Emeritus, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Charlie’s contributions to veterinary medicine were significant as a mentor of students, as a researcher, and as an administrator. He was very approachable and expanded our targets as practitioners beyond the patient to include the operation, the ownership, the management, and the employees. While concerns about the environment were not at the forefront as they are today, he was sensitive to long-term survivability of the ranch including ecosystem health (that phrase was not in existence in those days). He was one of the good guys who quietly grew the profession in the right direction and planted seeds in many of his students who would evolve the herd health systems that exist today.

Remembrance from Bob Harman, DVM, MPVM, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine ‘83
Charlie had a profound effect on every individual that showed an interest in herd health. He sponsored projects to drive better data capture across all the livestock groups. I was a feedlot manager when I first met Charlie. At every turn, he was concerned with the economic viability of the enterprise and never imposed a program or medical recommendation without first assessing the impact on the producer. He mentored his residents and the senior students with insights outside of the textbook. And he never forgot the individual patient. I watched him conduct live animal physical examinations and necropsies with exacting precision and consistent attention to detail. His impact on herd health is international. He was a friend to all in his field and his imprint on the profession will be felt for generations of veterinarians to come. Charlie, thanks for never compromising. 

Remembrance from Dr. Terry Lehenbauer, Professor, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Hjerpe was a true visionary about the needs and opportunities for food animal veterinary medicine from a herd health and production medicine perspective. His focus was dedicated to preventing and controlling economically-important diseases and better understanding of the interaction of management, environment, and nutrition that would lead to healthier, more productive animals. As a food animal resident veterinarian at UC Davis in the early eighties, I had the great privilege to be mentored and learn from Dr. Hjerpe. I was constantly impressed and amazed with his analytical abilities as a veterinarian and his commitment to excellence. Charlie was a true life-long learner, and we will miss his insightful curiosity and forward-thinking leadership. 

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