Wendell H. Niemann died in his home in Tucson, Arizona, on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, after a five-year struggle with a chronic blood disease. He was 86 years old.
Born on March 18, 1933, in Ogilvie, to William and Nettie Niemann, he grew up on the family farm graduating from Ogilvie High School in 1951.
He attained a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota in 1957.
His intention to practice as a large-animal vet was interrupted shortly after graduation when he was drafted to serve in the military. He rose to the rank of captain at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, Maryland), and his military service refocused his career to the field of medical research for the rest of his working life.
Professional highlights include working for NASA at a monkey colony in Puerto Rico in service to Project Mercury, which sent primates into orbit as a precursor to U.S. manned space flight, as well as contributing early research in the field of heart transplants. He held management roles in research at Hoffmann-La Roche Pharmaceutical Company (Nutley, New Jersey), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Columbia University and New York University. He authored and co-authored several papers and his work was cited in more than 100 academic papers advancing medical knowledge.
He was united in marriage to Courtney Van Fossen, and they had three sons who grew up on the family farm in Campbell Hall, New York. He moved to northern New Jersey, where he met his second wife, Rosemary (nee Holahan, Bruner), while they both worked at Hoffmann-La Roche. The couple married in 1984 and settled in Montclair, New Jersey, for the rest of their working lives and moved together to Tucson, Arizona, upon their retirements in 1994.
Wendell’s hobbies included fly fishing, gardening, baking and nature. He was an active member of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society.
He was beloved by many, known for qualities including humor, curiosity, empathy, generosity and hard work.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemary; sons, Karl, Jay and Chad; his siblings, Juanita Peterson, Ardis (James) Noonan and Jerrold (Rae) Niemann; four grandchildren, as well as stepchildren and step-grandchildren.
A remembrance service will be celebrated in Tucson at a date to be announced.