Hiram N. Lasher, 92, a pioneer in avian vaccine development, died Oct. 7 after a short illness. To the end of his life, Dr. Lasher was intellectually active, corresponding with colleagues and actively participating in professional activities.
Dr. Lasher was a generous benefactor to the University of Delaware. In 1997, the University dedicated the Lasher Laboratory in his honor in Georgetown, Del. The laboratory, formerly owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was transferred to UD when the USDA decided to close it. A $250,000 gift from Dr. Lasher allowed the University to update and renovate the lab.
At the dedication, then UD President David Roselle said the gift enabled the University “to continue the vital support of the work that has marked Hiram’s career in Southern Delaware and the world.”
Also speaking at the dedication, the late John E. Burris, a UD trustee, said that Dr. Lasher had “dedicated his life to the advancement of poultry health on the Delmarva Peninsula and throughout the world.”
In 2008, Dr. Lasher was awarded the University of Delaware Medal of Distinction. Robin Morgan, then dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, read a citation that noted his importance to the poultry industry worldwide and also noted his extraordinary contributions in Delaware to education, youth development and public service. “Hiram Lasher is a scientist, businessman, public servant, educational advocate and philanthropist who contributed significantly to the lives of many Delawareans.,” she said.
Dr. Lasher was born Feb. 8, 1920, and was raised on his family’s farm (Sunrise Farms) in Catskill, N.Y., during the Depression. After graduating from high school, he worked his way through college graduating from Cornell University in 1942 with his doctor of veterinary medicine degree. His early professional years were spent in expanding poultry health in Delaware where he settled with his wife, Bertha, and started their family. He later established a succession of two poultry vaccine manufacturing concerns in Millsboro, Del. which were acquired by multinational biopharmaceutical concerns. He went on to found Lasher Consulting Inc. in 1982 and until recently served as president, providing technical advice and support to vaccine producers in the U.S and the international arena.
Dr. Lasher was instrumental in developing and commercializing a number of significant vaccines through his own efforts and through cooperation with colleagues in industry and academia.
In addition to his gifts to the University of Delaware, he also supported Cornell University. He participated in professional associations, including the American Association of Avian Pathologists, and contributed to a number of funds to support students and other activities.
His civic and professional accolades included induction into the Poultry Hall of Fame, designation as an honorary diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and medals and awards from universities and his adopted home state of Delaware.
Dr. Lasher served as a founding board member of Delaware Technical Community College, served for 12 years on the Delaware State Board of Education and the Board of Directors of Beebe Hospital, as well as numerous other civic boards. Additionally, he and his wife served and financially supported the Boy Scouts of America, and he was awarded the prestigious Silver Beaver Award by the Del-Mar-Va Council for his service.
Dr. Lasher was devoted to his family, including seven children, three grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
Dr. Lasher’s business partner and close friend, Dr. Vergil Davis, wrote about him: “When the task appears too large or the time too short, one need search for an implementer no further than Hiram, a hero in his own right with very few peers. He reminds us all that the secret to fruitful longevity is activity, and not just any activity, but one that we love.”
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Bertha Lasher of Millsboro, Del.; children; Douglas Lasher and his wife, Carolyn, of Decatur, Ala.; Sandra Gordon and her husband, William, of Big Pine Key, Fla.; Dennis Lasher and his wife, Debbie, of Milford; Denise Lasher of Lutz, Fla.; Michael Lasher of Millsboro, Del.; Michele Lasher of Millsboro; grandchildren, Sean, Elizabeth and Sarah and one great grandchild, Hiram.
A memorial service celebrating Dr. Lasher’s life will be held at 12:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, at the Watson Funeral Home, 211 South Washington St., Millsboro. Friends may call from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, at the funeral home. Burial will be private.
Contributions can be made in memory of Dr. Hiram Lasher to the BV Rao Poultry Scholarship fund at the University of Delaware, which he helped establish in honor of his friend and colleague from India. Contributions may be sent to Office of Gifts Processing, University of Delaware, 83 East Main St., Newark, DE 19716.
Letters of condolence may be emailed via www.watsonfh.com