Bob Morrison lived for the annual Allen D. Leman Swine Conference; starting to plan the next conference while the current conference was taking place. He felt the current conference was the best one yet. In the next breath, he vowed the next one would be even better.
The 2017 Leman Conference may be the best yet, with many thanks to Morrison’s leadership, but Morrison is not present to witness the fruits of his labor. He and two others were killed in a car accident while traveling to a swine conference in the Czech Republic in May of this year.
He may not be physically present, but his presence is felt in those who do attend the annual conference in St. Paul, Minn. Gordon Spronk, who lost his wife, Deb, in that same accident, asked attendees of the Monday morning session to stand as reference to the impact or involvement that Dr. Bob Morrison had in their lives.
As the entire room was standing, it showed Morrison’s reach and impact, stressing to the Morrison family seated at the front, that their husband and father’s legacy will live on.
Morrison’s reach was and will continue to be felt, as Spronk recalls the last meal that he had with Morrison, “Bob was a host, wasn’t he always the host, he should be up here today. But he was also an academic and a teacher. … In private moments, I always called him professor. It fit him well; he was a teacher at the core.”
Spronk lauds Morrison for being able to teach at various levels, teaching about diseases as a veterinarian professor, but then putting numbers of the economic impact of those pathogens, “then we can teach at the farm level why we need to prevent diseases. … Bob stressed that we need to ask the right questions, and make sure that our research was solid. He was really good at setting up a field trial.”
Trevor Ames, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, paid tribute to his fellow veterinary classmate from Saskatchewan, who preceded Morrison to the U of M. “His passion led Bob to improvement in the swine industry,” and not simply confining that passion to Minnesota, the Midwest, or even the United States. Under Morrison’s leadership, the reach of the Leman Conference expanded to the Far East with the Leman China Swine Conference. “He was known as ‘Dr. Mo’ in China,” Ames says.
Ames say the University of Minnesota CVM will carry on Morrison’s legacy, but as of yet those programs are in the idea stage. However, one example of how Morrison’s legacy will live on will be announced at a Monday evening reception.
According to Monte Torremorell, who was mentored by Morrison at the University of Minnesota, says Morrison each year looked forward to the keynote addresses of the Leman conference, again feeling that each year’s keynote addresses will be the best yet. “We will carry work that Bob Morrison started forward” at the CVM and the reach that the college has in the swine industry.
Spronk shares Morrison’s mantra “always learn, always teach, and always have fun,” but he adds that we need to apply that philosophy every day in the swine industry. Spronk urges young veterinarians or veterinary students to look to Bob Morrison’s legacy. “You may find better mentors than Bob,” Spronk says, “but start with Bob.”