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John Oliver Jr. '55 June 21, 2023 4:41 PM updated: February 29, 2024 1:02 PM

Dr. John E. Oliver, Jr. 
June 22, 1933 ~ June 4, 2023 

Dr. John E. Oliver Jr., DVM, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, June 4, 2023.

Dr. Oliver was born in Stephenville, Texas, on June 22, 1933. The only child in a military family, John spent most of his early childhood in Texas. When John's father, Col. John E. Oliver Sr., returned from World War II, the family moved with army assignments to North Carolina, Illinois, and Atlanta, Ga, where John graduated from high school.

John had always wanted to pursue veterinary medicine and graduated with a DVM from Texas A&M University in 1957. John met his wife, JoEllen Gill, on a blind date in Houston, Texas. She had asked a neighbor who went to Texas A&M to bring her an "Aggie," and so he did. John and JoEllen were married in 1957 and lived one year in Colorado until John reported to the Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland. John spent two years there as a First Lieutenant doing research. The Olivers' first son, Michael Gill Oliver, was born in Frederick, Maryland.

In 1960, the family moved to Houston, Texas, where John opened a veterinary practice. After their second son, David John Oliver was born, the family moved to Auburn, Alabama, so John could earn a master's degree under small animal neurology pioneer Dr. Frank Hoerlein. John wrote a chapter in Dr. Hoerlein's textbook Canine Neurology: Diagnosis and Treatment, which is considered the first textbook published on animal neurology. Among the textbooks Dr. Oliver later wrote were initial editions of Veterinary Neurology and Handbook of Veterinary Neurology.

A daughter, Julie Elizabeth Oliver, was born in 1965, and the Olivers then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where John earned a PhD in Neurology. In 1969, his family moved to Athens, Georgia, where John became a professor in the small animal clinic at the University of Georgia. The family then moved to Lafayette, Indiana, where John became department head in the small animal clinic of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University. Later, the family moved back to Athens, GA where John became department head of the small animal clinic at the University of Georgia and retained this position until his retirement in 1994. After retiring, John continued to work part time for many years as a teacher of animal neurology and to mentor doctoral students.

Dr. Oliver helped initiate and served as president of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) professional association, and received the ACVIM Distinguished Service Award in 2011. 

John enjoyed golf and bowling and attending his children's activities. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He was a devoted Christian and served as an usher and in several other capacities at Tuckston United Methodist Church in Athens, Georgia.

Survivors include his wife, JoEllen G. Oliver, sons Michael G. Oliver (Catherine), David J. Oliver (Lori), daughter Julie E. Vissers (Rob McLafferty), 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A private graveside service for the family will be held on June 12. A Celebration of Life will be scheduled in the coming weeks. The family requests donations be made in John Oliver's name to the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine for Neurology students, Tuckston United Methodist Church, or Caring Hands at Presbyterian Village Athens.

Lord & Stephens Funeral Home - East, Athens, Georgia is entrusted with arrangements.


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