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What keeps Gorham going?

John Gorham says he continues to work because he’s still having fun.

At 84, Gorham, professor of veterinary microbiology and pathology, is the oldest active faculty member on any WSU campus. He’s in his office on the third floor of Bustad Hall for three or four hours every weekday – writing journal articles, completing research projects, mentoring students and responding to inquiries from industry partners.

“Research is like an athletic contest,” Gorham explained. “You want to win, to get your results in print before somebody else. It’s a game, and you don’t want to be second. And you want to keep going for the benefit of science.

“It’s still fun, and that’s why I am sitting here now.”

Gorham came to Pullman in 1942. Though he now claims he spent all his time “playing on the basketball team and chasing Mary Ellen” (they married in 1944), Gorham did manage to enroll in the veterinary medicine program and graduate in 1946. He joined the faculty in 1948 and was appointed research leader at WSU’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) animal disease laboratory.

After completing a Ph.D. in virology at the University of Wisconsin in 1953, he returned to Pullman and his faculty position and began an illustrious career in veterinary research. Gorham has authored or co-authored about 600 journal articles and has many awards, plaques and certificates honoring his accomplishments.
And where are those honors displayed? Well, they aren’t.

“They are all stacked on a shelf in one of the outbuildings on the college’s research farm,” he explained. “You know, those honors don’t mean as much to me as the esteem of my peers.”

Gorham has earned that esteem as well. For example, he was the first veterinarian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the USDA Agricultural Research Service and was honored as a legend in veterinary pathology by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

“I still like what I do,” he said, smiling. “I still have the enthusiasm and curiosity. As long as I can keep that spirit…”

 (Photo by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services)

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