Obituary: William Mellen, Professor Emeritus of Veterinary and Animal Science

William Mellen
William Mellen
William Mellen

William James Mellen, 94, of Amherst, professor emeritus of veterinary and animal science, died June 15.

Born in Brattleboro, Vermont, on Sept. 10, 1923, he attended public schools in Brattleboro, graduating as valedictorian in 1941. He entered Massachusetts State College, now UMass Amherst, in September 1942. After one semester, he left college to enlist in the Army.

He spent three years as an Army Air Corps ground-station radio operator and station chief, most of which took place in Bengal Province of India (now Bangladesh). He was honorably discharged with the rank of staff sergeant,

When he returned to Massachusetts State College in 1946 he joined Air Force ROTC and subsequently served in the Air Force Reserve, retiring with the rank of captain in 1960.  

After graduating from college magna cum laude in the spring of 1949, he entered graduate school at Cornell University where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in animal physiology. He then served five years on the faculty of the University of Delaware.

He joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 1958 and for the next 28 years conducted research and taught in the field of poultry physiology. He also served as associate and acting dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources, acting dean of the School of Home Economics, and special assistant to the provost. He retired in 1986.

From 1960 to 1961, he and his family lived in Sapporo, Japan, where he was an exchange professor at Hokkaido University. For 25 years, he participated in exchange activities between the agricultural faculties of UMass and Hokkaido University. He also served as co-director, with his wife Jackie, for groups of UMass undergraduate students attending summer sessions at Hokkaido. In 1989, Hokkaido University awarded him an honorary doctorate. 

For more than 30 years, he was an active member of the Amherst Philosophical Society. He also served as chair of the boards of the Amherst Housing Authority and Hampshire County United Way.

He performed in operettas while at Massachusetts State College, later played violin in the Pioneer Valley Symphony and sang in the Leverett Community Chorus at age 90.

He was predeceased by his wife in 2013. He is survived by his daughters: Donna L. Mellen, of Leverett, and her life partner, Donald K. Carew; Kathleen A. Mellen, of Northampton, and her husband, Dr. David E. Katz; and Carol M. Rogers, of Hadley, and her husband, James S. Rogers. 

A celebration of his life will be scheduled for a later date. 

Contributions in his name may be made to Hospice of the Fisher Home, 1165 North Pleasant St., Amherst 01002.