In Memoriam: Juan A. Gomez, DVM, PhD (1940-2007)

Juan was born on June 5, 1940, in Petaluma, CA, to Donald and Francis Gomez and joined his sister, Donna, in the Gomez family. His father, Donald Gomez, was a veterinarian in the US Army and after moving a few times the Gomez family settled on a 300-acre ranch in Fall River Mills, CA. Juan lost an eye in a childhood accident, but overcame his disability with distinction. He attended public schools, receiving many awards for football and track and field, and graduated from Fall River Mills HS in 1958. He attended UC Davis, played varsity football, and after his pre-vet curriculum entered veterinary school, receiving his DVM from the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in 1964. At that time, Dr. Ted Hage, a charter ACVR Diplomate, was teaching radiology. Dr. Hage died in 1964, providing Juan the opportunity to assume a position as a radiology instructor. He held radiology rounds in the evenings to interested students, one of whom was Sam Silverman. He married Sandra (Sammi) in 1967, was divorced in the late 1980s, and had a daughter in 1996, Ian Nicole, with his second wife, Kim.

In 1967, he began postgraduate studies at UCSF and UCD. He was awarded a Picker Grant in investigative radiology and was an avid researcher. Angiography was one of his major interests but his studies on Boxer colitis formed the basis of knowledge that we know today of that disease. His affiliation with UCSF during his PhD training integrated him into the diagnostic radiology department and he had many fine MD mentors. In the early 1970s, he went to The Ohio State University to join Dr. Jim Burt and became board certified in 1970.

In 1976, Dr. Gomez moved back to California and with the help of his good friend Richard Gebhart, DVM, started a radiology consultation practice, the first of its kind in Southern California, serving veterinarians between Los Angeles and San Diego. In 1980, he joined the UCD faculty and was active in teaching students and training residents. He co-authored a textbook, Thoracic Radiographic Diagnosis, with Peter Suter in 1981, helped UCD acquire its first CT scanner, and wrote many articles on various aspects of diagnostic radiology. He returned to the Gomez ranch in Fall River Mills in 1990 and worked part time as a radiology consultant. His untimely death on September 8, 2007, was the result of complications from a variety of medical disorders.

Juan was an intelligent, amiable man with a quick wit and great sense of humor. He enjoyed travel, wine, love, and laughter. Despite his small stature, his presence standing in front of a view box with his hands on his hips got everyone’s attention as he made an official pronouncement of his diagnosis. His studies in human radiology provided him with many eponyms, which frequently were dropped into a conversation and often made their way into his radiology reports. He was an enthusiastic mentor to many, including Crispin Spencer, Bob Pechman, Larry Kerr, Bret Kantrowitz, Dave Hager, and others. Juan will forever be remembered as a superb diagnostic radiologist, with the unique ability to correlate the radiographic changes with the patient providing insightful and succinct diagnoses.
Juan was a dreamer in many ways and eager to try new things, looking for his special niche. He has left this world a better place and veterinary radiology has lost a creative mind.

Juan always felt that he was a cowboy and was given a cowboy memorial service in Fall River Mills with his chaps and boots (with the spurs on backwards) at the service. His ashes were scattered under a large oak tree on his property. Cowboy up and ride that mustang under that old oak tree and over the rainbow.

JERRY M. OWENS, San Rafael, CA
Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2007 49 (4), 408.