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Sam Ridgway '58 August 17, 2022 2:16 PM updated: August 17, 2022 2:24 PM

Sam Houston Ridgway
June 26, 1936 - July 10, 2022

Dr. Sam Houston Ridgway - San Diego.  Dr. Sam Ridgway, DVM, PhD, distinguished marine mammal veterinarian and scientist, passed away peacefully at home on Point Loma in San Diego, surrounded by beloved family and friends. Sam was a humble man of heroic accomplishment, with a quick wit, kind heart, and gentle soul. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

Sam was born in Bigfoot, Texas, son to Morris Shepard and Florence Lipscomb Ridgway. In 1960, he married his sweetheart, Dr. Jeanette Fuller Ridgway, PhD, of Richards, Texas. They enjoyed almost 60 years of marriage before she passed in 2020. Sam is survived by his brother Don Ridgway (wife Jo Layne), brother Sid Ridgway (wife Mary Jay), and their families.

Sam was a founder of the US Navy's Marine Mammal Program, which he served for more than 60 years. He was the founding President and CEO of the National Marine Mammal Foundation, a nonprofit he helped establish in 2007. He was one of the largest contributors to marine mammal science, publishing more than 350 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and books. Early in his career, he published a book called Dolphin Doctor,' a name that became synonymous with Sam himself. His book Mammals of the Sea', published 50 years ago, remains one of the most comprehensive textbooks on marine mammal physiology. Sam was affectionately known among his colleagues as the father of marine mammal medicine' due to his pioneering spirit and ground-breaking discoveries.

A memorial service for both Sam and his wife Jeanette will be held at First United Methodist Church of San Diego, at a date to be determined. Information about the memorial service will be made available at

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Marine Mammal Foundation's Ridgway Fund, to continue Sam's legacy.


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