Allan J. (Al) Cawley was born in 1928 in Jamaica, West Indies. His elementary and secondary school education was in Jamaica. In 1948, Al applied, and was accepted, to Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), which at that time was part of the University of Toronto. He received his DVM degree from OVC in 1952 and returned to practice in Jamaica for 2 years before an appointment to OVC in 1954. He received his MVSc from OVC in 1957 and a DVSc from the University of Toronto in 1962. His expressed interest, thesis and dissertation dealt with bone development, juvenile bone diseases and orthopedic surgery. He was appointed Division Head of Clinical Sciences in 1963 succeeding James Archibald. He was mentored and educated in surgery and experimental surgery by J. Markowitz, J. Archibald, and H. G. Downie. He later contributed, in the 1964 copyright edition of Experimental Surgery by the same authors, considerable material on the subject of small animal surgery and medicine from which the First Edition of Archibald Canine Surgery originated. He was mentored in Radiology by W. Broome, MD, a local radiologist associated with Guelph General Hospital and R. B. Salter, MD, of Children’s Hospital of the University of Toronto.
Al exhibited considerable interest in veterinary radiology, and thus was one of the founding members (1957) of the Educators in Veterinary Radiologic Science and subsequently became a Charter Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology in 1965, originally called the American Board of Veterinary Radiology. Simultaneously, he became a Charter Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. During his academic career, he authored many papers on juvenile and developmental bone disease in the dog including ununited anconeal process, Legg-Perthes disease, and fracture healing and non-union fractures. He was a close friend and collaborator with Dr. Sten Eirk-Olsson of the Royal College of Veterinary Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden. This also introduced him to spinal surgery in the dog and the cat. During his tenure at OVC, he trained several residents in radiology and surgery including P. W. Pennock, J. E. Bartels, W. Putnam, Jack Alexander, Mike Kaye, and G. Sumner-Smith. During his tenure as Division Head at OVC, the sections of Clinical Medicine expanded greatly in the area of soft tissue and orthopedic surgery as well as radiology and radiation therapy.
He resigned from his academic appointment at OVC in 1969 to take a position in a specialty surgery practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This endeavor was short-lived in that he was recruited and appointed head of Clinical Sciences at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 1970. Subsequently, he held a similar appointment in Clinical Sciences at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine until the mid-1980s. He then entered private practice in New Port Richey, FL, specializing in surgery and radiology and continued as a sole owner of his practice from 1985 to 2003 and then retired, with his wife, Sharyn, to Homosassa, FL.
Al was soft-spoken, and veterinary medicine was his vocation as well as his avocation. Occasional time at the helm of his sailboat provided his leisure. He was an excellent teacher, easy-going, very intelligent, and a pleasure to have as a lifelong mentor. He truly prepared the way for the rest of us to enter the discipline of radiology. His zeal for veterinary medicine, excellent teaching methods, intelligence, and dexterity, shaped him as the quintessential surgeon. Al Cawley passed away in Florida on April 18, 2007, at the age of 79.
J. E. Bartels, P. W. Pennock
Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2008 49 (3), 316.