Dr. Donald Andrew Witzel of Bryan TX, known to some as Doc and others as Pops, passed away during the afternoon of November 30th, 2014 from a heart attack. He was 88.
Born to Roy and Laura Witzel in Artesian, South Dakota on September 9, 1926, Don moved to Minnesota as a small boy and worked on the farm his family continues to operate to this day. He is survived by his siblings LeRoy Witzel and Dale Witzel of Kasson MN and Doris Severson of Hayfield MN. Don often talked of returning to Minnesota one day.
Don never finished high school, earning his GED instead. After leaving home he joined the Army and was stationed in Los Alamos, New Mexico. With the
benefit of the GI Bill, Don attended and graduated from University of Minnesota in 1953 with a BS in Agricultural Education and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. He also lettered in wrestling. He married Priscilla Jane Coulter in St. Paul MN during the summer of 1954. He practiced as a large animal veterinarian in Minnesota for several years before returning to school.
The couple and their young son David moved to Iowa in 1961 where Don attended Iowa State University receiving a MS (‘65) and PhD (‘70) in Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology. During that time the couple added their daughter Deborah and son Mark to the family. He also attended Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In Ames IA he worked for the USDA at the National Animal Disease Laboratory.
In 1972 he moved his family from rural Gilbert IA to the bustling metropolis of Bryan/College Station TX where he joined the USDA’s Veterinary Toxicology and Entomology Laboratory. He spent the rest of his professional career at “the Lab” where he eventually became Director. His research interests included exploration of bitterweed poisoning of cattle, night blindness in horses, and sudden death syndrome in chickens.
He had a wide variety of avocations, as he liked to call them, including electrician, carpenter, ham radio enthusiast, counselor, foster parent, beef jerky maestro and hunter. He had a brief tenure in politics, losing a race for Bryan school board in 1978, and a more successful encore career as an auto mechanic, working for several years at Leon Sevcik’s service station.
Don and Priscilla, wife of 50 years, were dedicated members of the Bethel Lutheran Church. For a number of years he, partnering with Don Mahnke, managing repairs on the old church building and preparing Friday morning breakfast for the men’s group egg scramble with fritos was his speciality dish.
Priscilla preceded him in death in 2004. Don is survived by children David of Falls Church VA, Mark of Bryan TX, Deborah of Longmont CO, sonbymutualagreement Nathan Adair of Austin TX and eight grandchildren. Whether with his automotive repair abilities; his open, wellequipped garage; his carpenter’s skills; his counseling and guidance; or his ready friendship while smoking a cigar, he affected the lives of many and will be missed.
Services will be held on Saturday December 13, 2014 at 11am at Bethel Lutheran Church, 4221 Boonville Rd, Bryan, TX. Donations in his memory may be made to Still Creek Ranch (http://stillcreekranch.org/invest/) 6055 Hearne Road Bryan, TX 77808 Ph: (979) 5893206. Cremation services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral Home and Crematory in Bryan, Texas.