Denver - Respected veterinarian and researcher Dr. Mark Morris Jr., who dedicated his life to improving those of companion animals through the Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), died Jan. 14 at his home in Topeka, Kan. He was 72.
DENVER — Respected veterinarian and researcher Dr. Mark Morris Jr., who dedicated his life to improving those of companion animals through the Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), died Jan. 14 at his home in Topeka, Kan. He was 72.
Dr. Mark Morris Jr.
Foundation trustee and vice president of scientific activities, Morris focused on his parents' mission to treat animal disease by emphasizing nutrition.
"Dr. Morris was committed to ensuring that his father's vision of a foundation to improve the health and well-being of animals would carry on into perpetuity," says MAF President and CEO Patricia Olson, DVM and PhD.
Founded in 1948 by Mark L. and Louise Morris, MAF has grown to become the world's largest, non-governmental, non-profit organization funding humane animal health research and studies.
Since its inception, MAF has strived to improve the health and well-being of companion animals and wildlife through the funding of more than 1,300 studies, foundation officials say.
"The entire veterinary community has lost a good friend, valuable contributor and mentor," says Dr. Lon Lewis, a Morris Jr. colleague and retired veterinary nutritionist.
After earning his DVM at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1958 and PhD in veterinary pathology at the University of Wisconsin in 1963, Morris Jr. returned to his Topeka hometown to work for his parents' business, Mark Morris Associates (MMA).
Morris followed the direction of his father, who developed Prescription Diet pet foods, the first therapeutic diets for dogs and cats.
He expanded the line with the development of Science Diet products for companion dogs and cats and the ZuPreem food line for animals in zoological collections.
He also created the "Small Animal Clinical Nutrition" textbook for veterinary professionals.
"My grandfather was a visionary in clinical nutrition, but it was my father, Mark Morris Jr., who turned my grandfather's vision into reality and then went on to realize his own vision by greatly expanding the body of knowledge about animal nutrition and providing innovative, quality diets for the health of animals worldwide," says David R. Morris, president of Premium Nutritional Products Inc., which now owns the ZuPreem line of diets for zoo animals.
Throughout his career, Morris researched and developed more than 150 products through a partnership in which MMA provided product research and development, while Hill's Pet Nutrition ran production, sales, marketing and distribution.
Hill's is one of the largest pet food manufacturers in the world.
Morris retired in 1988, after MMA was sold to the Colgate Palmolive Co., Hill's parent firm.
"Great products themselves do not make a successful company," says David R. Morris. "I can't imagine that the products MMA developed would have realized their true potential had it not been for the business expertise Hill's brought to the partnership. The global reach that Colgate Palmolive Co. added when it acquired Hill's in 1976 has certainly been a fundamental driver in the success of the products over the last 20 years."
Morris was a founding board member of the American College of Nutrition and was active in the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association and American Association of Veterinary Nutritionists.
Morris Jr. is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Bette M. Morris, PhD, two sons, a daughter and five grandchildren.