New scholarship honors Dr. Bob Pierson’s legacy in livestock health

A new scholarship has been established in the memory of Dr. Robert “Bob” Eliot Pierson, a longtime professor and clinician in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University.

Pierson, 98, of Fort Collins, Colo., passed away on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Through this scholarship, Pierson’s legacy will live on and support veterinary students who have an academic focus on livestock health and production.

A memorial service for Pierson will be held at 11 a.m. June 6, 2018, at First Presbyterian Church, 531 South College Ave. in Fort Collins.

Pierson was born on March 24, 1919 in San Francisco, Calif., to the late Dr. Philip Hale and Grace Elizabeth (Fowle) Pierson. He attended school in San Francisco through high school. After attending the University of California-Davis, Pierson went on to finish his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Iowa State University in 1943. One of his first jobs was as deputy state veterinarian in Wyoming, where he met his future wife, Josephine (Toddy) Ziegler. They were married on Nov. 11, 1945, in Cheyenne, Wyo.

After having a successful private practice in Saratoga, Wyo., Pierson was a CSU professor of veterinary medicine for 30 years. He taught several food animal courses, ran the large animal ambulatory division, published or co-published many articles and books, and ran multiple research projects.

Dr. Frank Garry, a faculty member in Livestock Medicine and Surgery, describes Pierson as “a notable clinical faculty member who wrote formative literature on feedlot medicine.” He was a keen observer, often noticing tiny clinical changes in animals that eventually linked to a final diagnosis.

painting of Canada geese
“Canada Geese,” by Robert E. Pierson, from the collection of Dr. C. George Dewell

Pierson’s former students remember his teaching fondly. “A few of the qualities that made Pierson such an outstanding individual were his patience, his organization and his concentration on the task at hand,” said Dr. Wayne Crowell, D.V.M. Class of ’64.

“His class presentations were orderly, thorough and completely comprehensible. When he finished lecturing about a disease, we possessed all the information we needed to make a diagnosis of that disease in the future.”

Robert E. Pierson Memorial Scholarship

Dr. Robert Pierson, plaid coat, dark tie
Dr. Robert Pierson

Dr. Bob Pierson is remembered as a dynamic clinician and dedicated teacher. He was a loving and devoted husband and father. “I know I am not alone in my belief that he was a wonderful gift to our class and to the college,” said Dr. Wayne Crowell, D.V.M. Class of ’64. The Robert E. Pierson Memorial Scholarship will celebrate that legacy.

Gifts may be made to:
CSU Foundation
Robert E. Pierson Memorial Scholarship
P. O. Box 1870
Fort Collins, CO 80522-1870

Donate online here.

Humble, devoted, and tenacious

Pierson was unanimously nominated for the College of Veterinary Medicine Professor of the Year and University Professor of the Year by several classes, winning several awards for teaching. Yet even with the numerous awards and accolades, he remained a humble and devoted educator.

One of his greatest qualities was his tenacious drive for perfection – whether in the art of teaching or the art of painting. Pierson’s beautiful watercolor paintings were on the cover of the American Equine Journal for 11 years and featured on the cover of the American Veterinary Medical Association Journal. Pierson has a painting in the Cowboy Hall of Fame and has displayed his art in Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming, winning numerous awards.

painting of a blue heron
“Taking Flight, Great Blue Heron,” by Robert E. Pierson, from the collection of Dr. C. George Dewell

“When I was a student of Dr. Pierson at CSU back around 1960, he used to draw colored chalk cutaways on the blackboard of the internal organs (thoracic and abdominal) of animals, for teaching purposes,” said former student, Dr. C. George Dewell, in a 2016 issue of Imprints magazine. “These drawings were so true and beautiful that we hated to see them erased. I have no idea how much time he spent in preparing them, but it had to be considerable because they were done in acute detail and accuracy. I will never forget those drawings.”

In addition to being a gifted veterinarian, teacher, and artist, he was a devoted husband and father. Pierson was preceded in death by his parents; siblings Francis and his twin sister, Jane; and his wife of nearly 70 years, Toddy. He is survived by his children William Robert, Sally Pierson John (Michael, aka Brillo), Philip Eliot (Roxanne), seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.