Mark Morris, Jr.

Mark Morris Jr

Dr. Mark Loren Morris, Jr. died Sunday, January 14, 2007 at his home in Topeka, KS. Dr. Morris was born February 3, 1934 in New Brunswick, NJ to Dr. Mark L. Morris, Sr. and Louise Weber Morris. His parents had built the second veterinary hospital in the United States for small animals, and Mark grew up living in his family’s apartment above the animal hospital. His father was an exceptional veterinarian and in the course of his practice developed a line of therapeutic foods for dogs and cats called Prescription Diet pet food. In 1948, his father signed a contract with Hill’s Packing Company in Topeka to take over the manufacture and distribution of these products.

In 1954, Mark was accepted into the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and received his DVM degree. While a veterinary student at Cornell, he met and married Bette McGehee, a student in the Graduate School of Nutrition. After graduation in 1958, the couple moved to Topeka, where Dr. Morris began his work in the family business, appropriately named Mark Morris Associates. Within just a few months of moving to Topeka, Mark was drafted and served as a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army Veterinary Corps from 1958-1960. He was assigned as a laboratory pathology officer at Fort Detrick, MD.

After the service, Mark and Bette moved to Madison, WI where he did his graduate studies in veterinary pathology and biochemistry at The University of Wisconsin. After completing his M.S. and Ph.D. in 1963, Dr. Morris returned to Topeka and expanded the Prescription Diet line of products and introduced the concepts of lifestage nutrition and wellness nutrition in the Science Diet which is sold around the world today for healthy dogs and cats. He became a worldwide authority on companion animal nutrition, and his passion to improve the health and well-being of all animals through better nutrition led him to mentor and teach others in his field. As president of Theracon, Inc., a family partnership, he was dedicated to pet food research development, testing and education of the next generation of veterinary professionals.

Working with Gary Clarke, then director of the “World Famous Topeka Zoo,” he developed the ZuPreem line of products for zoo animals. His son, David Morris, has continued to expand the line of products that now includes diets for exotic pets.

Dr. Morris published widely and was a visiting lecturer in small animal clinical nutrition in the United States and internationally. During his career, he was invited to speak at more than 200 meetings around the world. Most notably, he is the co-author of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition through its fourth edition, which now has been translated into five languages. It is the standard textbook on clinical nutrition used to educate veterinarians throughout the world. Dr. Morris also contributed extensively to the AAFCO and NRC nutrient guidelines for both dog and cats.

Dr. Morris was a founding member and on the Board of Regents of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, and a member of the Cornell University Feline Health Advisory Board.

In 1988, Mark Morris Associates and Theracon were sold to the Colgate Palmolive Company, which owned Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Then with characteristic vigor and enthusiasm, Mark and Bette turned their combined focus to learning how to manage financial assets. Dr. Morris often credited the Institute for Private Investors as his single most valued resource for contacts and information. He would say that the greatest contribution he could make to charitable causes was to grow their endowment, enabling others to fulfill the mission.

Through the years, he served tirelessly as vice-president of scientific activities of Morris Animal Foundation, the largest, non-governmental, non-profit organization funding animal health studies in the world. Dedicated to improving the health and well-being of companion animals, zoo animals and wildlife, MAF has funded more than 1,600 humane animal health studies since its founding in 1948 by his parents.