Goldhaft Wernicoff, 1933
The Goldhaft family resided in Vineland, New Jersey, just 40 miles across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Helen was bright, ambitious, and wanted to follow in her father's footsteps and become a veterinarian. Alas, Dean Louis A. Klein of the University of Pennsylvania would not accept her - Helen's younger brother, Tevis, remembers the rationale being that "there were no facilities for women at Penn."
Not to be dissuaded, Helen enrolled in the New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass College, part of Rutgers University), where she excelled academically. In 1929, her father met Dean Pierre Fish of Cornell at a conference in Detroit. When Dr. Goldhaft told the dean what had happened, Fish said that his daughter should come to Cornell - and that her year at the New Jersey College for Women qualified her for a scholarship. Helen joined the Class of 1933 later that fall, becoming the fifth woman to graduate with a Cornell DVM.
The Goldhafts' son, Tevis, also aspired to become a University of Pennsylvania veterinarian. However, his father insisted that his two children should be together in college, so Tevis joined his sister at Cornell as a member of the Class of 1935.
Between studies in veterinary college, Helen met Nathan Wernicoff, Class of 1931. They eloped on October 7, 1932. They kept their union a secret until after her graduation so that she would not lose the dormitory privileges that were available only to single students.
The Drs. Wernicoff moved to Forest Hills, New York, where they operated a small-animal practice. Six years and two children later, they moved to Vineland and became partners with Helen's father and brother in a company called Vineland Poultry Laboratories. Originally established by the senior Dr. Goldhaft to perform tube agglutination tests for local hatchery operators, the laboratory soon expanded to include the manufacture of live-virus fowl pox, pigeon pox, and laryngotracheitis vaccines. The Goldhafts supplied their vaccines to farms throughout the U.S. and overseas.
The Goldhaft family was involved actively in Vineland Poultry Laboratories until they sold the company in 1970. After Helen's husband died in 1976, she retired to Coral Gables, Florida, where she remained until her death in 1997.
Tevis Goldhaft still lives in Haverford,
Pennsylvania. He is proud that his sister led him to Cornell some 71 years ago, and that her
significant accomplishments in the field of poultry medicine are still recognized today.