Dr. Joseph "Bud" Stuart ’55 grew up in a tenement in White Plains, N.Y., the son of a butler and a cook, during the Great Depression. When the kids playing on the streets of his neighborhood would find an injured bird, dog, or cat, they would bring the wounded animal to Stuart.
"I would work on them and about two-thirds of them would die," Stuart recalls. "I would bury them and put up a little cross. I decided very early on — at about 10 — that I wanted to be able to treat and cure cats and dogs."
By the time he graduated from high school, Stuart was dead-set on attending Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. But there was one problem: He didn't have any money. So he deferred college for a year and drove a laundry delivery truck and waited tables at night.
With $900 saved up, Stuart entered Cornell's College of Agriculture in the fall of 1949. He quickly realized his money wouldn't last long, so he began working several jobs on campus, serving food in the cafeteria each morning and at dinner.
"As a result, I was able to squeeze my way through six years at Cornell by working my head off," he said.
After graduation and a two-year stint in the Air Force, Stuart opened the Little River Veterinary Clinic in Fairfax, Va., eventually expanding the staff to 12 people. When he and his wife moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., Stuart bought an animal clinic and operated it until his retirement in 2006.
In appreciation for his successful veterinary career, Stuart recently decided to bequeath five percent of his estate to the College.
"It's given me such a delightful life," he said, "because there's no better job than that of being a veterinarian."
The author of Feeding Fido and Fluffy, Too (2011), Stuart became known as a specialist in the nutritional basis of pet practice. Because animals were suffering as a result of being overweight, Stuart advised owners of both cats and dogs to switch from a diet based on dry food to one that incorporated less fatty canned food.
A longtime poet, Stuart is now working on publishing a book of his poems. He recently penned a 20-line poem in honor of Cornell's Sesquicentennial, which ends with his gratitude for being a Cornell grad.
"Cornell is the basic reason that I've had the life I've had," he said.