When E. Hadley Stuart, Jr., first arrived at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital with his dog Sunny in 1983, Dr. Stephen Withrow knew little of the man. Dressed in a tattered plaid shirt and blue jeans, quiet and unassuming, Mr. Stuart was interested in enrolling Sunny in a cancer treatment trial funded by the National Cancer Institute. At that time, little did Dr. Withrow know what a profound impact Mr. Stuart, and Sunny, would have on his life or on the Animal Cancer Center.
The emotion of that impact was seen on April 29 when faculty and staff members, family and friends, and two of his beloved golden retrievers gathered together to dedicate the sculpture “Forever Play” at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The sculpture, located at the entrance to the tribute garden, was placed in memory of E. Hadley Stuart, Jr., who died last year at the age of 92. The bronze sculpture, by LaVita, Colo., artist Joan Hanley, depicts Mr. Stuart throwing a ball for his golden retrievers Kari and Kinsey.
“How people here treated him and treated his dog, he saw something the he never saw anywhere else and my dad came to care deeply about the people here and the important work they were doing,” said Nan Stuart, one of Mr. Stuart’s three children. “The work here in cancer is something that is very close to our hearts. Someday there will be a cure, and I hope it will be soon.”
Impressed by the care his dog received, and by how he and his dog were treated by both attending veterinarians and staff members, Mr. Stuart became interested in seeing Dr. Withrow’s work continue and began making regular calls (usually during half-time of the Sunday football game) to see “what you need.” During the next 24 years, he became a leading donor to the program with contributions of more than $9 million to the Animal Cancer Center, including the lead gift to build the ACC’s new home in 2002, a gift to establish the Stuart Chair in Oncology in 2001, and a $4 million pledge to match contributions to build Kari’s Fund, an operating endowment for the Animal Cancer Center.
In 2007, Colorado State University presented Mr. Stuart with an honorary degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, in recognition of his far-reaching vision and pivotal role supporting the development of the Animal Cancer Center.
"We sometimes call this place the ‘House that Hadley Built’,” said Dr. Withrow, Director of the Animal Cancer Center. “He was committed to helping in the cancer cause, not just for animals, but for people, too. I can’t begin to imagine where we would be today without his commitment and support. Perhaps even more important was his personal belief in what we were doing. He was willing to invest in our work because he had a vision of what we could become.”