MORTON S. SILBERMAN
AAZV’S FIRST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
PASSES AWAY AT AGE 70
Dr. Morton S. Silberman, AAZV’s first Executive Director, died in the early hours of Monday, August 4, 2003 at Emory University Hospital at age 70. Dr. Silbermans death was attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition he has had to endure for many years. In 1994 he became one of the first patients in the country to undergo a new lung reduction surgery which was successful in ameliorating his emphysema and extended his life for a number of years.
A native of New York, Morton Silberman spent the majority of his life in Georgia. He received his bachelor and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from the University of Georgia. He later participated in post-doctoral work at the University of Minnesota, where he met his first wife, Donna. In the 1960’s, they established a farm in Macon County, Georgia, and a home in Reynolds, Georgia, where Donna taught school for many years. While farming, Dr. Silberman began a successful consulting practice dealing with cattle.
Dr. Silberman first came to Emory University in 1976 as Associate Professor of Pathology and Assistant Professor of Surgery in the School of Veterinary Medicine and University Veterinarian in the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center. His dedication to and expertise in the above positions quickly propelled him to diverse leadership rolls, many of which were newly created. In 1988, he was named Assistant Director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center; it is believed that Mort was the only veterinarian to serve in an office as high as Assistant Director at a major academic health science center.
In 1988, Dr. Silberman became the first Director of Governmental Affairs in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. In this position, he had responsibility for relations between the Center and local, state, and federal government, primarily in the area of legislation and regulation regarding the care and use of animals. Mort later served as Director of International Affairs.
From 1973 to 1981, Dr. Silberman was a Contract Veterinarian for the Atlanta Zoological Park. Through his professional contacts at Emory University, the University of Georgia Veterinary School, and in human health care circles, Mort forged links to the academic and scientific communities. This collaborative effort, initiated by Dr. Silberman, continues to benefit the zoo today. The Atlanta Zoo is building a state-of-the-art veterinary medical diagnostic facility which is scheduled to open by the end of 2003 and will be named the M. S. Silberman Diagnostic Center
Dr. Silberman began his association with the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) in the mid-seventies and commenced his activities as AAZV Executive Director in 1977, a position he held for 10 years. During his tenure as Executive Director, Mort led the way for AAZV to become involved in numerous regulatory and legislative issues that affected zoos and the practice of zoological medicine. He enabled the AAZV to gain a membership in the United States Animal Health Association and a seat as one of that organization’s Board of Directors. Many of the "older” AAZV members will not soon forget the positive impact that Mort has had on our organization. Nor will we forget that through his sometimes gruff exterior was a heart of gold. He was our colleague, mentor, and friend. Mort was held in high esteem by his peers in the veterinary profession who, in 1998, selected him as one of the top 100 practitioners in the nation.
Dr. Silberman was a member of numerous prestigious local, state, and national professional organizations including the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the United States Animal Health Association, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, The International Development Institute, The American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, and the New York Academy of Science. He has held offices and director positions in most of these organizations and has been named a fellow or a life member in several. In 1999, he was named a Scientific Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society, an honor bestowed on less than 20 people.
Dr. Silberman is survived by his second wife, Joan Silberman of Atlanta, a daughter, Suzanne Cross of Atlanta, a stepdaughter, Laine Chiszar of Atlanta, a stepson, Adam Chiszar of Boulder, Colorado and his two grandchildren, Gregory and Christopher.
A memorial service for Dr. Silberman will be held at 1 PM, Thursday, August 14, 2003 at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlanta.