John Creeper was born and bred in Perth, Western Australia. After attending City Beach Senior High School he went to the Western Australian Institute of Technology (later Curtin University) where he obtained a Diploma in Medical Imaging (Diagnostic Radiology) in 1977 and then gained employment at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital as a radiographer. He then decided that veterinary science would be a better career choice and enrolled in the course at Murdoch University. He continued working part-time as a radiographer to fund his studies. He graduated with his BVMS in 1984.
In 1985 John did what many new veterinary science graduates in Australia do; he headed off to Britain where he worked in small animal veterinary practices in Blackpool and Clapham before finishing the year off backpacking around mainland Europe. On return to Western Australia in January 1986 he worked in a private mixed veterinary practice.
John started his career with the Department of Agriculture and Food on 5 March 1986 when he was appointed as a temporary veterinary officer at Derby to work in the Commonwealth funded Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC). He obtained a permanent position in the department on 21 May 1990. He had a couple of short periods as the Officer-in-Charge of the Derby office in 1990 and 1991, and from 1 September 1991 to 31 October 1992 he was the Regional Veterinary Officer for the Kimberley.
It was during his period in the Kimberley that John developed the real talent of being able to communicate clearly, calmly and fairly with people with a diverse range of education and experience. This skill was most needed during his period as the Regional Veterinary Officer when he had responsibility for managing BTEC in the Kimberley during the final year before Impending Freedom from Tuberculosis was to be announced. During this year John had to negotiate de-stocking activities with various stations, and ensure that all necessary testing was completed on time. He also managed a budget of $1.07 million dollars, three veterinary officers and 9 technical officers. He was paid a temporary special allowance because of the recognised extra responsibilities and stresses required during this period.
John's very dry, extremely clever sense of humour was refined to a very high level by his Kimberley experiences, as was his often used laconic form of communication. It was also in Derby that John met Kim Lynette Wedge, a nurse and the daughter of a Dandaragan farmer, who he married in December 1989.
In November 1992 John transferred to the Animal Health Laboratories (AHL) at South Perth to commence his illustrious career as a veterinary pathologist. He obtained (by examination) Membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in the Pathobiology Chapter in 1995, the qualification subsequently required by NATA for all veterinary pathologists. In addition to being the major consistent contributor to the veterinary pathology diagnostic team at the AHL for 22 years, he was seconded to the Department of Fisheries from 2002 to 2007 on a 0.5FTE basis as a fish pathologist.
During his career John worked on a number of research projects, including field evaluation of the CSL gamma interferon TB test, development of management strategies to improve liveweight and welfare of goats during export by sea, a health survey of the pearl oyster beds and farms in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, investigation into mortalities of cattle shipped live by sea, an abalone health survey and identifying causes of mortality in cattle shipped to the Middle East. He was an author of 21 scientific publications and industry reports.
As a pathologist John was widely known and respected by the veterinary and farming communities in Western Australia. He was insightful and a lateral thinker, and these traits together with his ability to apply his scientific knowledge and experience in a practical manner led to him being regularly consulted by veterinary colleagues, farmers and members of the general public. He developed a reputation as an excellent public speaker and became sought after for training courses, conferences and presentations to industry groups. His talks were always well researched, supported by excellent and appropriate visual aids, and presented in a concise and clear manner.
Appropriate use of his characteristic humour always turned good presentations into excellent ones, and enabled him to always engage the audience no matter what their background.
Within the AHL John was one of the most loved staff members. He was hugely respected, always reliable and always pleasant. He handled a large work load extremely competently, and was always prepared to provide help when required. We will all miss him dearly and he will be extremely hard to replace.
John was a loving and devoted family man and is survived by his wife Kim, daughters Kate and Hannah, and his two sisters Jan and Lesley and their families. Our thoughts are with them at this time.