In Memory: Dr. Gary Pearl (PU DVM ’63)

Friday, January 12, 2024

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The Purdue Veterinary Medicine community is deeply saddened by the passing of an alumnus from the college’s first class, Dr. Gary G. Pearl of Bloomington, Illinois, who died January 1, 2024 at his residence.  He was 86.

Dr. Gary Pearl portrait

A native of Lafayette, Indiana, Dr. Pearl grew up near Attica, Indiana on a family grain and livestock farm.  He received his elementary school education in a one room school house and later attended Attica High School, graduating in 1955. He was very active in FFA, 4-H judging, and showing beef cattle. He also was involved in many sports. Following high school graduation, his passion for agriculture and his penchant for hard work and lifelong learning led him to enroll at Purdue University where he intended to prepare for a career as a high school ag teacher. While at Purdue, he joined the Air Force ROTC and the Indiana Army National Guard. As he neared his Purdue graduation in 1959, he learned of Purdue’s plans to open a new School of Veterinary Medicine, and he sought admission to the inaugural class of veterinary students. 

With his new Bachelor of Science in agriculture and biochemistry in hand, Dr. Pearl began his Purdue veterinary medical studies that fall, and earned his DVM degree four years later in 1963. His first veterinary job was at the LaGrange Indiana Food Animal and Equine Practice where he joined a great team of doctors and their families that welcomed him and his new bride, Sandy, to Northern Indiana. 

A job and career change in 1966 took his family to Bloomington, Illinois where he accepted the position of staff veterinarian at FS Services. He served more than 27 years at what would become Growmark, Inc., before retiring as livestock business manager in 1993. Though retired, he remained active in agriculture, becoming president and director of technical services for the US Fats and Proteins Research Foundation, Inc., serving in that role until 2006 when he left to spend more time with family.

Throughout his adult life, Dr. Pearl was active involved in many professional, civic, and community organizations. He served as McLean County veterinarian, a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, chairman of the Illinois State Veterinary Association, president of the Mississippi Valley Veterinary Association, and chairperson of Cooperative Research Farms. He also served on the Illinois State University Ag Advisory Board, the National Biodiesel Board, and as a member of the U.S. Animal Health Association. He also volunteered locally for various organizations, including serving as an Illinois 4-H Distinguished Leader for 25 years, a Bloomington Township trustee and clerk for more than 50 years, a member of the Crestwicke County Club board of directors, and as a deacon at the First Christian Church Bloomington.

Dr. Pearl’s honors included receiving the Purdue Veterinary Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award and becoming an adjunct professor in the Clemson University Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.  Despite his professional accomplishments, he was known to be most proud of his family, taking great pride in his children and grandchildren. He also enjoyed fishing, hunting, golf, and gardening and loved traveling with his wife to such destinations as Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Additionally, he could be found on nearly every fall weekend tailgating with family and friends before Purdue football games.

Visitation and memorial services were held January 6 and 7 at the Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home in Bloomington, Illinois, with a second service held in Attica January 8 at the Maus Funeral Home. Burial followed with military rites accorded at the Riverside Cemetery in Attica.

The family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine or the McLean County 4-H Extension Service.

Click here to view a complete obituary and share condolences and memories online.

Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

Category: Alumni, Our People

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