“Pioneer” of equine reproduction,
longtime CVM administrator
Woody Asbury dies at 80

Dr. Woody Asbury

Dr. Woody Asbury

By Sarah Carey

Dr. Woody Asbury, one of the founding fathers of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and a former administrator whose contributions to college life spanned nearly 20 years, died in Versailles, Ky. on Nov. 17 after a long illness.

He was 80 years old and his career had included private equine practice and consulting as well as academia, through which he helped many veterinary students and theriogenology residents.

Asbury retired in April 1996 after serving the college as a teacher, a clinician and an administrative leader. Among his leadership roles were serving as chairman of the original department of reproduction; as chief of staff of what was then known as the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital; as chairman of the department of large animal clinical sciences, the job he held when he retired, and notably as interim dean of the college from 1988-89.

After retiring from UF, Asbury stayed in the horse business and moved to Kentucky, where he and his wife, Clare, raised several thoroughbred horses and his favorite mule. In Kentucky, he served as a consultant to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that funds research throughout North America aimed at furthering the health, safety and soundness of horses.

While serving as interim dean, Asbury played a key role in amassing private funding support, in large part from the equine community, to enable the college to build two equine hospital barns, which were completed in 1990; the Alec P. and Louise H. Courtelis Equine Hospital, which opened in 1994; and the Veterinary Academic Building, which opened in 1996.

When Dr. Richard Dierks was hired as the college’s dean in 1989, Asbury was named associate dean for alumni and public programs. He stepped down from that position and in 1992 was named the Appleton Clinical Professor, a post endowed by Florida thoroughbred horse breeders Martha and Arthur Appleton of Ocala.

“Dr. Asbury was a true friend and an absolute gentleman in his interactions with everyone, whether he was in agreement or not,” said Dierks, who left the college in 1996 when he retired from the dean’s position. “He was an exceptional supporter of the college and I enjoyed working with him in our many interactions together. He will be missed.”

Woody Asbury and horses, 1981

Dr. Woody Asbury and horses, 1981

Added Dr. Maarten Drost, the founding chair of the original reproduction department and a longtime friend of Asbury’s, “He was the pioneer in equine reproduction here.”

“He also made many connections with the equine industry in the Ocala area in a compatible, professional way,” Drost said. “The college benefited from that because he brought these people into the planning for our future and they referred cases to us. We also serviced some of the farms in Ocala with our residents on a regular basis.”

Asbury is survived by his wife, Clare Asbury, and two sons, Douglas and Russell Asbury. He was preceded in death by his son, Willard Asbury.

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Woody Asbury and horses, 1981

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