In Memoriam: Vesley, Donald

In Memoriam: Vesley, Donald


Donald (Don) Vesley, long-time member of the American Society for Microbiology, died on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.

“Don … was born on November 7, 1932, in Astoria, NY, and grew up in Whitestone… After graduating a semester early from Bayside High School in 1950, he (went) to work at a farm in upstate New York, an entrance requirement for the program to which he was admitted at Cornell University's College of Agriculture. After gaining experience inspecting food facilities for the New York State Department of Health, he was offered the chance to advance his career via a master's degree in public health, and he was accepted at the University of Minnesota in 1957. Upon returning to New York, he began to train other health inspectors, discovering a love of teaching. He eventually taught as a professor, because the University of Minnesota invited him to come back and work as a researcher while pursuing a doctorate.

Starting in January of 1960, Don's first research project involved studying hospital solid waste handling with the goal of reducing staphylococcal infections… Under contract from NASA, Don developed clean-room sterilization procedures for the Viking Mars lander. This research was the basis for his Ph.D. dissertation. Over the next decade Don's team conducted short courses at agencies and universities around the country on laboratory safety techniques for handling cancer viruses and then-revolutionary recombinant DNA procedures. Don became a tenured professor at the U of MN in 1977, and in 1980 he became the University's Director of Environmental Health and Safety. In 2001, Don consulted on anthrax decontamination for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. By the time he retired from teaching and research in 2003, Don was the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific articles and a book, and he had advised and mentored scores of students...

Don died at home early in the morning on Tuesday, June 19, 2018... He was preceded in death by his brother Hank as well as by his parents. He is survived by wife Catherine, son Mark (Kristine), brother Allan (Pan), and nieces on both coasts…”

(excerpted from obituary originally published in the Star Tribune on June 24, 2018; full obituary available here.):