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Van Telford '56 November 30, 2020 4:46 PM updated: January 7, 2021 4:13 PM

Van Quincy Telford
OCTOBER 6, 1934 – NOVEMBER 24, 2020

Van Quincy Telford died on November 24, 2020, at Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, due to complications from COVID-19. He was 86.

Van was born in the Bowie County community of Bassett, where his father worked on local ranches and farms and his mother taught in a two-room schoolhouse. Bassett was known for its colorful citizens, a number of whom treated the law with casual contempt. For that reason, his father was uniquely qualified to assume the role of Deputy Sheriff and Jailer at the Bowie County Seat of (New) Boston. There, the family lived in an apartment attached to the county jail, and Van's earliest memories were of long, tall lawmen, of good guys vs. bad guys, of cowboy hats that blocked out the sun and pistols big as Howitzers. Some have alleged that these key impressions informed much of his parenting style with his two sons. They would be correct.

After his family moved to DeKalb, Van completed middle and high school there. While his father built a thriving business and his mother continued to teach, Van was a Varsity Football and Basketball player and ran Varsity Track, earning his Eagle Scout and Order of The Arrow Vigil as well as The Baden Powell Awards. He gained admission to Texas A&M in 1952, where he earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1958. Van then accepted a commission to the United States Air Force, where his duties included serving as a public health and safety officer as well as working as a veterinarian for US military personnel and the First Family of Nationalist China, President and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek.

On his return from Taiwan in 1960, Van married the love of his life, Janie, and enrolled at UT Southwestern Medical School. In November of 1963 he was working at Parkland when President Kennedy's gurney and medical teams rushed past him in the hallway. Due to his bearing, on that difficult day Van was charged with regularly communicating Governor Connally's health status to Nellie Connally and the Governor's staff. After specializing in Pathology, Van in early 1967 happened to be visiting his friend and colleague Earl Rose when the coroner asked him to assist with a matter requiring immediate attention. Van agreed and was surprised to find Jack Ruby's body on the autopsy table. Van recognized him at once, as he and his then-sweetheart, Janie, had been semi-regulars at Ruby's Carousel Club in the 1950s.

After a two year stint at El Paso's Hotel Dieu Hospital, Van practiced pathology for over 30 years in Dallas at Presbyterian Hospital, Richardson Medical Center, and Dallas Pathology Associates. A Clinical Professor at Southwestern, Van was a Texas Medical Association Delegate and Chairman of its Council on Health Facilities. He also served as a delegate to The College of American Pathologists and, in 1983, was President of The Texas Society of Pathologists.

A passionate interest in alpine sports and medicine steered him to ski most of the Rockies and to heliski Canada's Gothics and Bugaboos. It also prompted his membership in and eventual presidency of The Rocky Mountain Traumatological Society, under whose auspices he led medical research treks in and around Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal and The Carabaya in Peru.

When he retired in 1997, Van and his wife split their time between Dallas and Taos, New Mexico, and travelled the world while pursuing Van's passion for wing, helice, and clay target shooting. Van's dedication to the sports led him to memberships at The Dallas Gun Club, where he served on its Board of Directors, The United States Helice Association, and The United States Flier Federation. He was an early member of TAPA, an organization dedicated to columbaire, and he shot competitively in Argentina, Morocco, Uruguay, and many of the lower 48 states. This coming year, Van planned to shoot in The King's Cup in Madrid, Spain.

Parents John Quincy and Bertha Van Hooser Telford and his wife of 55 years, Jane Ellis Telford, predecease him.

Van is survived by sons Quincy Ellis Telford and Bradford Gray Telford, son-in-law J. Mark Deaton, might-as-well-be-daughter Markeeta Lamberth McNatt Brown, granddaughters Leonora Telford and Elizabeth Telford, brother and sister-in-law The Honorable Barry Telford and Marsha Telford, niece Chris Telford (Jason Cording) and nephew John Telford (Molly), cousin Jeanne Williams, and special caregivers and friends Willie Govan and Kathy Hatley.

Due to the pandemic, a celebration of Van's life is planned for later in 2021.

In lieu of flowers, the family warmly encourages memorial donations be sent to The Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX, 77840, to benefit The Van & Jane Telford Veterinary Endowed Scholarship. Please designate 05-33727 in the check's memo line.

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