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Jack Edward Moulton

Professor of Veterinary Pathology, Emeritus




Jack Edward Moulton died May 3, 2003 at the St. John's Retirement Village Manor West in Woodland at the age of 81. He was born March 4, 1922 to Mary Virginia and Edward Charles Moulton in Seattle. The family lived in Seattle, and Jack completed high school in that city. After he finished high school, he joined the Merchant Marine and spent two years as a seaman with the U.S. Coast Geodetic Survey.

Jack attended the University of Washington in Seattle in 1942, and then started his veterinary education at Washington State College in 1943. Like most of his generation, his education was interrupted by World War II. He served in the Army Air Force at Fort Bliss in Texas. After his discharge, he completed his veterinary degree at Washington State College in 1949. That same year he married Idell. Together they agreed he should pursue his advanced degree in veterinary pathology at the University of Minnesota where he earned the Ph.D. degree in 1953. His dissertation research was on rabies, a disease in which he had a continuing interest.

In 1953 Jack came to California and joined the early veterinary faculty at the Davis Campus. Those were heady times at the new School of Veterinary Medicine with its very young faculty. Jack became an enthusiastic participant joining his clinical colleagues in investigating a variety of diseases. He took his responsibilities for mentoring the departmental post graduate students very seriously, many of these students becoming life long colleagues.

In response to developing concerns about the spongiform encephalopathy of sheep, scrapie, the United States Department of Agriculture invited Jack to spend his first sabbatical leave at Cambridge University working on the disease. In spite of the fact that scrapie and this group of diseases were much more complex diseases than was realized at the time and the tools needed to study them properly were not yet available, it still was a most valuable year because progress was made in understanding the disease, and Jack, encouraged by his Cambridge colleagues, decided to push ahead with the writing of Tumors of Domestic Animals.

Jack loved Africa and Africans making numerous visits to the continent. He found African diseases of animals fascinating and recognized that their control was essential for the development of the continent. He made major contributions to our understanding of several important animal diseases of Africa, particularly African swine fever, East Coast fever and trypanosomiasis. In Kenya, he served as director of the University of California Education Abroad Program for two years, teaching pathology at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Nairobi at Kabete and helping the American students adjust to Kenyan culture and life and times in Nairobi. Jack took great pleasure in making sure that the American students under his charge had an opportunity to see and enjoy the magnificent scenery and animal life of the country. 

Jack was also active and enjoyed assisting those African students who came to the University of California, Davis for veterinary training. He provided mentoring and advice on all facets of their lives on this campus, helping them meet academic and financial needs. His home was open to many of them on holidays. He was also instrumental in helping those who did not return to Africa after completion of their studies to secure appropriate positions in their field.

In 1981 he received a Fulbright Research Award to support a leave at the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) in Kenya to continue his research on trypanosomiasis. He received a second Fulbright Fellowship to help in establishing a veterinary school at the University of Zimbabwe.

Jack had catholic interest in diseases of animals and investigated and published on a wide assortment of diseases, eventually focusing on the exotic diseases of the tropics, but certainly within the veterinary profession, he was most well known for his authoring the pioneering Tumors in Domestic Animals. Jack authored the first edition and edited the next two. Donald Mueten the current editor of the fourth edition points out in his introduction, "Dr. Moulton's tireless efforts helped make ‘Tumors in Domestic Animals’ one of the landmark text books in veterinary pathology.” There is no doubt that this book has played a key role in demonstrating the value of comparative studies of tumors and establishing veterinary oncology as an important specialty.

Professor Moulton retired in 1987, and he and Idell spent several years on the Mendocino coast where he pursued his great love of painting. When they returned to Davis, Jack continued his enthusiasm for golf, which he loved, but often found a challenge.

He is survived by his wife, Idell; a daughter, Collette Czuleger of Santa Barbara; a son, Bill Moulton of Kentfield; and a daughter, Sally Borges of Davis, who shared Jack’s love of veterinary medicine graduating from the School of Veterinary medicine, University of California, class of 1985.

Jack made major contributions to our school, our university and to the understanding and control of animal diseases. His interests and aptitudes matched up well with the animal disease problems he found here and in Africa. In addition, he nurtured and trained another generation of veterinary scientists, providing the impetus for further research and accomplishment in the field. He was a valued colleague and friend, and he will be missed.


Peter C. Kennedy

Peter F. Moore

Tilahun Yilma