In Memory of Vinse Oviatt

Vinson “Vinse” Romero Oviatt ’49, a noted leader with the World Health Organization, died suddenly Dec. 13, 2014, in Crail, a seaside Scottish village where he had lived for 25 years.p31-Vinse-Oviatt

Oviatt, 88, spent eight years in Geneva, Switzerland, with the World Health Organization as coordinator of a special program on safety measures in microbiology with the Division of Communicable Diseases.

His activities included development and publication of the WHO Laboratory biosafety manual and the WHO manual on safety measures for use in outbreaks of communicable diseases.    Oviatt was a member of the World Health Organization Biosafety Advisory Group until his death and also served as a consultant to the WHO Global Program on AIDS and the Division of Communicable Diseases.

Oviatt was born Aug. 4, 1926, in Huron. When he was 8, his family moved to Miller, from which he graduated from high school. He briefly served in the U.S. Army and then enrolled at South Dakota State, earning a degree in civil engineering.

He earned his master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan and spent his career in occupational and environmental health.

Oviatt was part of the SDSU Distinguished Alumni Class of 1985.

In Crail, he was known for his love of music, singing for many years in four different groups, and for the way he and his wife, Fiona, quietly worked on behalf of so many community groups. He was a major player in the creation and running of the Crail Children’s Centre and was an elder for 62 of his 88 years in churches in the United States, Switzerland and Crail.

Survivors include his wife, three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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