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Alan Dobson

1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Alan Dobson Obituary
Dobson MA, PhD, ScD, Alan

Alan Dobson, 88 passed away peacefully on 21 February 2017 in Ithaca, NY.

He was born in1928 in Bethnal Green, London, England to Albert Percy Dobson and Dorothy Blanche Dobson (née Hougham). He was educated at Westcliff High School For Boys in Essex, England and was evacuated with the rest of the school to Belper in Derbyshire during the war.

After serving as wireless fitter and instructor in Royal Air Force, he took up a scholarship to study Natural Sciences at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University in 1947, often cycling the 70 miles between Cambridge and his parent's home in Southend.

Completion of his PhD in biochemistry at Aberdeen, Scotland. led to employment at the nearby Rowett Research Institute as a senior scientific officer specializing in ruminant nutrition. There he met the love of his life, Marjorie, a Scottish microbiologist. They were happily married for 59 years until Marjorie's death in 2014.

In 1961, they went to Cornell University in New York State for a year, subsequently returning in 1964 for Alan to take up an appointment initially as an associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine and making their home nearby in Etna. Alan worked as a physiologist studying how sheep and cows absorb nutrients and how horse blood circulation is affected by anesthesia until his retirement in 1995 as Professor Emeritus. His academic career was distinguished by his clear thought, careful experimental designs, innovations in measurement technology, and a pervasive integrity. During that time his work with Cor Drost inventing an ultrasonic blood flow meter resulted in the creation of the international company Transonic Systems Inc. based in Ithaca where he thrived in his role as a founding director.

Two sabbatical years in 1970 and 1977 were spent working on research interests back at Cambridge University. In 1978, Alan was awarded the distinction of an ScD by Cambridge University and in 1990 he was made a Quartercentenary Research Fellow at Emmanuel College Cambridge.

Alan enjoyed music making with a group of friends, playing all the different sizes of recorders; such events usually ended with copious tea or beer, homemade bread, cheese and chutney. Alan was also a craftsman, designing and building various early musical instruments over the years, including a rackett, cornettos, a clavichord and finally a bass viol and appropriate bows. He enjoyed looking at art and it was fun to watch how he observed art. At one point both he and Marjorie took up pottery but he gave it up when he realized that thinking about pot shapes was distracting him from his paid research.

The grounds around their home in Etna provided plenty of outdoor work and he particularly enjoyed a bonfire in the meadow behind the house. He read widely enjoying Jane Austen, Trollope, Boswell, detective novels and science.

In 2008 both he and Marjorie went to a care home in Ithaca enabling him to faithfully care for her as her dementia progressed. He is survived by his four children: Ian, Janet, Graham and Barry and nine grandchildren: Julia, Joshua, Beth, Mary, Benjamin, Rowan, Erin, David and Madeline.

A memorial gathering will be at a location and date yet to be confirmed.

Donations can be made to Hospicare 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
Published in Ithaca Journal on Mar. 7, 2017
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