Wyland “S” Cripe, a member of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s first graduating class, went on to leave his mark as a practitioner and community leader in Elk Grove and later as an academician noted for his international contributions to his chosen field.
Dr. Cripe died Dec. 28 in Micanopy, Fla., just 12 days after the death of his wife, Marnelle Filippini Cripe. Both were 93 and had been married for 71 years, said Kirsti Cripe Rauser of Wilton, one of the couple’s five daughters. She said her father died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease and her mother from natural causes related to age.
“My parents had a remarkable partnership,” Rauser said. “They did all the vet work together.”
Wyland Cripe was born Aug. 5, 1921 in Flora, Ind., to Ruth and Ezra Cripe. His parents didn’t give him a middle name, so he added the initial “S,” said a former colleague. The family moved to the Modesto area when he was a child. His parents had a farm and dairy, and his father also owned a meat market in the Salida area.
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Rauser said her mother, who was five days older than her father, grew up in Patterson, and the two met as students at Modesto Junior College. Her mother earned a degree in social work from Mills College, a background that served her well years later as she joined her husband in his international endeavors.
Wyland Cripe attended Stanford University before joining the U.S. Naval Pilot Training program during World War II. He flew seaplanes on submarine patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans, his daughter said.
He used the GI Bill to complete his bachelor’s degree at Stanford University and then enrolled in veterinary school at UC Davis. He helped cut wood for construction of the school’s first building, Haring Hall, said Rauser, and he was a member of the veterinary school’s first graduating class in 1952.
Dr. Cripe, in partnership with Dr. Robert Frater, established and operated a large and small animal veterinary practice in Elk Grove from 1952 to 1968, and Dr. Cripe gained a reputation as both a business and community leader.
“He was a force for good in the community,” said Elk Grove resident Olga Batey, a longtime friend who worked with Dr. Cripe in the successful campaign to unite several small school districts into a single Elk Grove Unified School District.
Dr. Cripe served on the Elk Grove school board from 1959 to 1963, and as president of the Sacramento County Board of Education from 1965 to 1967. He also was president of the Sacramento Valley Veterinary Medical Association from 1966 to 1968.
In addition, Batey said, the Cripes were part of a community theater group that specialized in satirical productions.
After 16 years in practice, Dr. Cripe decided to pursue his international interests.
“He had a very broad perspective and a very big heart,” said David Hird, a professor emeritus at the UC Davis veterinary school. “He had a thousand schemes and dreams.”
Hird joined him in the pursuit of one of the those dreams, bringing ambulatory veterinary clinics to Chile. From 1968 to 1970, Dr. Cripe served as director of the UC Davis/Universidad de Chile Veterinary Medicine exchange program through the Ford Foundation and moved his family to Santiago, Chile. There, he and his team introduced the American veterinary practice of equipping trucks with a lab, microsope and supplies and going into the field to treat large animals, rather than requiring them to be brought to a clinic, Hird said.
Dr. Cripe returned to Davis and served as associate dean of student services for the veterinary school.
In 1971, he became team leader for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization at the International Research Institute in Barinas, Venezuela, where he became interested in water buffalo and their use in Third World countries.
“He was interested in water buffalo because they had the ability to do so many things,” his daughter said. “They are draft animals and they are dairy animals … true mozzarella cheese is made from milk from water buffalo.”
He was subsequently recruited by the University of Florida to help establish a new College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, and he was the first dean of student and public services.
There, Dr. Cripe continued his research on water buffalo. Along with Drs. Maarten Drost and Joe Wright, Dr. Cripe successfully performed the first water buffalo embryo transfer in 1982.
Dr. Cripe also helped establish the college of Rural Animal Medicine Services at the University of Florida and retired as associate professor emeritus in 1989.
His many honors and awards over the years included the Emil Mrak International Service Award from UC Davis in 1994.
Rauser said her father instilled in his children the importance of public service. “Most important was that I had an obligation to give back to my community,” she said. “It’s not that he told me I had to do that. He showed me by his actions that it was the right thing to do.”
In addition to Rauser, Dr. Cripe and his wife are survived by daughters Carra Cripe of Sacramento, Aline Hommes of Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Vaughan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Anna Moo of Newberry, Fla., as well as four grandchildren.
Rauser said a memorial service will be held for her parents in Florida, but no date has been set.
The Dr. Wyland Cripe Memorial MPVM Scholarship has been established with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to support students in the Master Preventive Veterinary Medicine Program. Remembrances may be made to UC Davis Foundation, in memory of Dr. Cripe, and mailed to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA, 95617. A memorial gift also may be made online at http://bit.ly/1HZxh1u. Remembrances also may be sent to University of Florida Foundation Account No. 5729, for the Drost Project, in honor of Dr. Wyland “S” Cripe, c/o Maarten Drost DVM, 2105 NW 15th Ave., Gainesville, FL, 32605-5216, or go to http://drostproject.org.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.