Dr William Joseph [Bill] Pryor passed away on March 26th, 2022 at Buninyong, Victoria, Australia after a brief illness. During his 95 years he had a remarkable career during which he dedicated himself to enhancing the role of the veterinary profession – some might say he had multiple careers, influencing countless generations of veterinarians, not only in Australia but also well beyond, particularly within the Commonwealth. Dr Pryor was one of the four key human pillars of the foundation on which CVA was built. The other three being Dr Laurent Choquette, Dr James Archibald and Dr Trevor Blackburn.
Dr Pryor was first appointed as CVA Councillor Australia on 20th July 1979 and in 1986 was appointed as the Regional Representative of Australasia/Oceania and then as Secretary/Treasurer from 1991-95 and President from 1996 to 1999 and CVA Past President and Treasurer from 2000 to 2003. Even after his term ended, he continued as CVA Treasurer until 2010 when he finally retired.
Dr Pryor was born on 16th February 1927 in Horsham, Victoria and received his early education at Horsham High School. He subsequently obtained his BVSc from the University of Sydney in 1950 followed by a MVSC from the University of Queensland in1962 and a Ph.D from Oregon State University, USA 1966.
He started his Veterinary Practice at Ballarat 1950 and worked in the Department of Agriculture, Victoria, as Veterinary Officer in Camperdown from 1951-56. He worked as a Veterinary Adviser to Nicholas Pty Ltd, from 1956-57 and joined University of Queensland as Senior Lecturer, Animal Production 1958-66 and later worked as Secondment, Acting Chief Animal Husbandry Officer, Northern Territory Jan/Feb 1961. He returned to the University of Queensland as Reader, Animal Production 1966-69 and became the Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Science 1970-71 and moved to New Zealand as Dean of Massey University from 1971-76. After his return he joined Bureau of Animal Health (later Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) Canberra 1977-86. He also worked as Assistant Director, Operations and Permanent Delegate, Animal Production and Health Commission of SE Asia, the Far East and SW Pacific
Between 1977and 1982 Dr Pryor was Executive Member of the Department of Primary Industries Animal Production Committee (6 years) and Chairman of the Working Party for the Introduction of National Uniform Feeding Standards of Livestock (INUFSL)
Dr Pryor also worked as a Consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) 1983-86 (Thailand and Rome) and Livestock Consultant for Project on Integrated Rainfed Farming Research and Development, Thailand. He was also Veterinary and Livestock Consultant and Woolgrower Consultant to Australian Meat and Livestock Research and Development Organisation, Sydney 1987. He was the Foundation Chairman, Australasian Veterinary Schools Accreditation Committee 1988-94 and Consultant to Australian Council for International Agricultural Research (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia) 1988-96 and as Consultant to FAO, Bangkok Thailand 1982-98.
Dr Pryor has held many important posts during his rich and illustrious career. He was national President of the three peak veterinary and animal science organisations, ie Australian Veterinary Association, Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, Australian and Society of Animal Production.
In addition to his Veterinary professional activities Dr.Pryor also was Councillor of the Shire of Buninyong in Victoria between1986 and 89 and Shire representative, Council of Ballarat CAE 1987. Dr Pryor first became involved with the University in 1987 when he was appointed as its nominee to the Council of the Ballarat College of Advanced Education. He took the position as Vice-President in 1990 and was appointed as President in 1992. In these senior roles with the BUC, he led negotiations which were to result in the declaration of the University of Ballarat in 1994. In the same year, he was appointed Deputy Chancellor, a position he held for six years. He was awarded a Fellow of the University in May 1997. In 2000 Dr Pryor, was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Ballarat.
Dr Pryor travelled extensively in South East Asia and the Pacific region where he worked for many years to assist veterinary services and education. In fact, a good number of his veterinary degree students were Pacific islanders. For this he was awarded a DSc (h.c.) from Massey University in 1988.
The British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) honoured Dr Pryor in 1992, making him an Honorary Associate, the fourth Australian in the two hundred years of its history. This was in recognition of his development of an international veterinary accreditation system and extensive assistance to veterinary communities in several developing countries.
Dr Pryor was the recipient of many honours including the award of “Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)” in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Australia in 2001 and an “Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science” from the University of Ballarat, Australia with which he had a very close and productive involvement.
He was also singularly honoured in 2001 at the VAM Conference by the Veterinary Association of Malaysia as the “Veterinarian of the Century” for his contribution to the veterinary profession not only in Australia but also for his commitment and work for the development of the profession throughout the Commonwealth, in the far East and Malaysia in particular, in addition to many other Awards during his illustrious career.
Dr Pryor was adept at maintaining strong relations at the senior level with both donors and national veterinary associations – and yet he also possessed the common touch of easily relating to and communicating effectively with people at the grass roots level.
Dr Pryor, was felicitated during the inauguration of the CVA Asian Regional International Seminar on 9 December 2009 at Bangalore, India in a lavish Indian ceremony to recognise and express appreciation for his 25 year’s contribution to the CVA.
In the 53 countries of the CVA Dr Pryor is best known as a warm and charming, dedicated worker, anxious to help members from all countries but particularly those from the developing world. For instance, Dr Pryor had a real empathy with and concern for the constraints, challenges and special needs of the Pacific Islands. Veterinarians in this vast region are few in number [often only 1 or 2 per island country] and are widely separated by ocean. Para veterinarians understandably play a most important role in providing veterinary coverage more widely in these situations because some island states are composed of multiple scattered islands, many of which do not have a singly resident veterinarian. Dr Pryor ensured that the para veterinary group was always fully recognised and included in the CVA’s activities. In working closely with colleagues from developing countries, Dr Pryor practised and epitomised what is the essential ‘spirit’ of the CVA and that is ensuring the stronger and more advantaged assist the less strong member countries!
Dr Pryor is best membered for his integrity and meticulous maintenance of accounts as the Treasurer of the CVA. His tremendous commitment to the CVA was evidenced when 45 out of the 52 member countries paid their subscriptions regularly on his request. Dr Pryor managed the CVA finances in a most proper and at times almost frugal manner, to ensure these ‘stretched’ and provided as much benefit as possible. His diligence and financial stewardship were exemplary and, in this regard, Dr Pryor was a powerful role model.
Dr Pryor was also meticulous in observing minute details of all the minutes of the meetings as well as in editing the CVA Journal for typographical errors.
Dr Pryor was a veterinarian for all situations, locations/places and seasons having ably served the profession widely in the private, educational, Government and civil society fields for well over 50 years – moreover, his service also included local Government, a quite remarkable record!’
He and his wife Ann were gracious hosts and accommodated many CVA Officers Meetings and individual visitors at his homestead on his family farm at “Galwiji” near Buninyong. On occasions, some of his guests ran the risk of being conscripted late in the day after CVA deliberations ended, to assist with on-farm activities! Dr Pryor had a strong affinity for the land and his well-managed sheep and re-afforested property fully reflected this passion.
Dr Pryor possessed a great and often dry sense of humour and there were many hilarious occasions in the CVA meetings and workshops when Dr Blackburn and Dr Pryor would debate on the correct usage of English words.
In the sad demise of Dr Pryor, the CVA has lost one of its most gifted and dedicated members and his death will be mourned by veterinarians and others throughout the Commonwealth. His vision, leadership, deep commitment and example were so inspiring and he will be missed greatly. Sadly, there are so few of the late Dr William Pryor’s calibre in our world. The CVA Executive and membership extend deepest sympathies to his wife Ann and to his five sons, one of whom is also a Veterinary graduate.
—–Dr Robin Yarrow and Dr S Abdul Rahman