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Endowed fund will support Cummings School's wildlife medicine programs

An ad executive with a passion for the outdoors, Edward Lanciani loved hunting and fishing in Maine, Newfoundland, the Caribbean, and the western United States.

But even as an expert fly fisherman, he would put fish back into the water after he caught them, said Leon Lenick, a close friend. And in the 1970s, he chose to stop hunting. "He felt it was very wrong to kill a defenseless animal," said Lenick.

Tufts is now a beneficiary of that lifelong love of animals and the outdoors. Mr. Lanciani, who died on July 15, has left approximately $1.5 million to the Cummings School for Veterinary Medicine for its wildlife medicine programs.

His bequest will go toward establishing the Anne and Edward Lanciani Endowed Fund for Wildlife Medicine, named for himself and his wife. The fund will support the school's Wildlife Clinic and related programs in conservation medicine and environmental research.

Clinic Director Flo Tseng said an endowed gift of this size significantly stabilizes an operating budget that depends heavily on outside support. Since clinic patients (as varied as birds, reptiles, and carnivores like bobcats and foxes) have no owners to pay for services, donations and foundation grants are critical to ensuring ongoing care. About 1,700 animals a year come through the clinic - as many as 1,000 between May and September - and maintaining staff levels is particularly important, she noted.

"This gift helps us secure our quality programs: teaching our students how to work with wildlife and providing the best care that we can to all the animals that come here," she said. "And it's very gratifying to know there are people who truly care about Tufts and wildlife as much as we do."

Born in 1921, Mr. Lanciani grew up in Everett, Massachusetts, and after high school enrolled at Boston University to study communications. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He spent more than three years stationed in China.

Returning home, he began a successful 40-year career in the newspaper business, culminating in a position as vice president of advertising at The Providence (R.I.) Journal. He retired to Maine in 1984.

In 1998, Mr. Lanciani notified officials at Tufts of his plans to include the veterinary school in his will. Previously, he made other charitable gifts to Boston University and Tufts, including $25,000 to a scholarship fund at the veterinary school.

Cummings School Dean Deborah T. Kochevar was presented with the first installment of the gift on June 29 at a ceremony that also featured the unveiling of a plaque that marks the establishment of the fund.