Obituary: Bernard “Bernie” Elliot Rollin PHD
February 18, 1943 – November 19, 2021
Bernie was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1943, the son of Philip and Yetta Rollin. He met his wife of 57 years, Linda, when they were freshmen at City College of New York in 1960, but it took him a year to ask her on their first date. They were married in 1964, and immediately sailed for Scotland where Bernie had a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. He returned to earn a PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University and happy to trade New York City for then-bucolic Fort Collins, accepted a professorship at Colorado State University in 1969, where he would spend the next 51 years, retiring as University Distinguished Professor in 2020. After establishing himself as a pure philosopher in the 1970s, he shifted focus and dedicated the rest of his career to the welfare of animals in medicine, research, agriculture, and society. Employing his dazzling intellect, pragmatic approach, ferocious intensity, and in-your-face style, he effected extraordinary change across the spectrum of animal welfare, earning innumerable friends and enemies along the way. Considered by many the “father of veterinary medical ethics,” he taught the first ever course on the subject, and fundamentally changed the way veterinarians are taught and how they practice. He co-wrote the 1982 federal laws that enforce humane treatment of animals in research. As a consequence, he has been described as the person “who alleviated more animal pain than anyone in history.” He published more than 20 books, some of which have been translated into Italian, Japanese, Farsi and more, hundreds of scholarly articles, and lectured thousands of times across the globe to audiences ranging from surgeons to schoolchildren, researchers to ranchers, zealots to zookeepers.
He was fiercely dedicated to his family, and despite his professional productivity, always made his wife and son his first priority. He loved sharing his passions for horseback riding, weightlifting and motorcycles with his son, Michael. For many years the sound of a Harley-Davidson in Fort Collins was likely to be accompanied by his bushy beard blowing from under his helmet-less head in the wind with Michael (helmeted) hanging on from the seat behind. He had boundless love for Linda in her unwavering support and care and took immense pride in Michael’s character and accomplishments. In addition to wife Linda and son Michael, Bernie is survived by his brother Robert (Gwen) Rollin of Youngstown, Ohio, niece Susan (Adam) Dunn of Perrysburg, Ohio, and grandchildren Daniel and Lily. Bernie was also predeceased by cat, Mao, and dog, Helga, and perhaps a hundred other four-legged members of the Rollin household who loved him and whom he loved. The family would like to believe that they are now reunited at the Rainbow Bridge, where Bernie is seated on a nearby bench, being greeted my innumerable wags, and licks and purrs from an immense lapful of furry friends.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at http://www.allnuttftcollins.com for the Rollin family.
A Celebration of Bernie’s Life for the public will be held at a later date in the Spring.
Memorial Contributions may be made to American Humane Association on behalf of Bernie and his family.