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Florence Kimball
Helen Goldhaft Wernicoff
Interlude, 1910-1936

Marie Koenig Olson
Patricia O'Connor Halloran
Interlude, 1938-1939

Helen Borchmann Doremus
Sylvia Burg Salk
Interlude, 1940s

Catherine Fabricant
Helena Haight

Patricia O’Connor (Halloran), 1939

The veterinary classes of 1939 and 1940 had seven female graduates combined. Dr. Patricia O'Connor was one of three women from the Class of 1939. Drs. John Murray, Isidor Sprecher, Norbert Lasher, and Morris Erdheim were also members of that illustrious class. While recounting stories of the women of their era, these men always speak with great affection and admiration for Pat O'Connor. Born on the 29th of November, 1914, Patricia grew up in Buffalo, New York. As a young girl she would stop every afternoon on her way home from school at the fence of the local veterinarian and gaze with great interest at his menagerie of dogs, cats, and ponies. Determined to become a veterinarian herself, she attended the University of Alabama in 1933-34, then entered the veterinary class of 1939 at Cornell.

Following a year in private practice in Charleston, West Virginia, Dr. O'Connor married a classmate, John Lewis Halloran, Jr. They moved to Staten Island, where the two of them worked in his father's general veterinary practice.

In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Dr. O'Connor accepted a call to serve as veterinarian at the Staten Island Zoo. She was initially hired on an interim basis, chosen only because there were no men available to fill the position during the war. She soon gained national recognition in zoo medicine and education, and the zoo was fortunate enough to keep her on for 28 years.

Dr. O'Connor wrote numerous articles, but even more were written about her. She was an icon in the veterinary world, not so much because of her gender - though that was clearly an issue of great interest - but because of the manner in which she blended zoo medicine with public education and scientific writing, most notably in her 1955 compendium and bibliography on the pathology of wild birds and mammals.

Dr. O'Connor and Dr. Halloran raised three children born between 1941 and 1944. After her husband died, Dr. O'Connor kept his small-animal practice going while continuing to carry out her zoo responsibilities. In 1998, as a capstone to her zoo career, a wonderful dinner-tribute was held on Staten Island to honor her legacy. The following year, Patricia O'Connor retired to Indiana, where she could be near family and friends. She died there on July 8, 2003.

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Patricia O'Connor Halloran

College Archives
Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine