Dr. Christopher M. Groocock

01/22/2013 11:11 AM |

Dr. Christopher Michael Groocock, 77, died Jan. 15 at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.

Dr. Christopher M. Groocock

Dr. Christopher M. Groocock

Chris was born in Desborough, U.K., the son of Dorothy (Aires) and Frederick Arthur Groocock, and great-grandson of the noted archeologist Jesse Marlow. He gained a master’s degree and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1959. After a stint in Scandinavia as an artist and as a country vet in Ireland, he traveled to Tanzania in East Africa as regional veterinarian for the British Government Overseas Development Agency. This involved testing cattle and wild animals for infectious diseases, and his work with the rinderpest vaccination program contributed greatly to the permanent worldwide eradication of this deadly disease. Chris met his wife, Gloria, when she arrived as one of the first U.S. Peace Corps volunteer teachers to East Africa, and they wed in 1964. A few years later, Chris was nearly killed on safari when a Cape buffalo charged and gored him in the neck with its horns.

Chris and his family lived in Pennsylvania during the 1970s, where he worked as assistant professor and received his Ph.D. in parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1977, research took him to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, and the family resided in Cutchogue. In 1981, Chris was appointed director of the East Coast fever project in Nairobi, Kenya. Shortly thereafter, he began his diplomatic career as the U.S. Veterinary Attaché for Africa and the Middle East, for which he traveled extensively negotiating trade agreements and overseeing projects for the USDA/APHIS. Chris and his family particularly enjoyed time together on safari, at the Kenya Coast, skiing in Val d’Isere, France, and on home leave to New York. After a three-year posting to Washington, D.C., Chris and Gloria moved to Vienna, Austria, with his new position as U.S. Veterinary Attaché for Central and Southern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Again, this involved much traveling; his favorite trip was to Modena, Italy, where he attended a private concert by Luciano Pavarotti. Chris was a good dancer, a skill which came in handy at Viennese balls and Oktoberfests alike.

Chris retired in 2000 and was awarded a distinguished service award from the USDA. He enjoyed volunteering at the Cornell Cooperative Extension SPAT program, helping in the lab and raising oysters off his dock in Cutchogue. Chris was an avid lifelong bird-watcher and member of the Audubon Society. He loved to sit in his chair with his binoculars and watch the birdlife on Wickham Creek and at his many birdfeeders. He and Gloria also enjoyed more travels in South America and elsewhere.

In 2006, following the outbreak of avian influenza, Chris came out of retirement to consult with labs all over Asia and Australia, training scientists to test for and track the virus. By the time Chris retired for good in 2009, he had been to over 100 countries on five continents. His research contributed greatly to the fields of parasitology and epidemiology; his work was cited in international scientific papers 18 times in 2011 alone.

Chris is much missed by his wife of 47 years, Gloria Gonda Groocock; four children, Gwendolen Groocock, Julia Mathews, Dr. Geoffrey Groocock and Jonathan Groocock; seven grandchildren and one on the way.

A memorial service was held Jan. 20 at Coster-Heppner Funeral Home in Cutchogue. As per his wishes, Dr. Groocock’s ashes will be sprinkled in Wickham Creek and on the Serengeti in Tanzania. He requested that donations in his memory be made to the Cheetah Conservation Fund at www.cheetah.org.

This is a paid notice.