J. Lee Alley
An early picture of J Lee Alley is evidence he couldn’t miss having a career in agriculture. Taken on the family’s farm in Midway, Alabama, the photograph depicts Alley as an infant lying on the back of a cow while his father laughingly holds him securely in place.
In fact, one of the reasons Alley went into Auburn University’s veterinary program was to return to Midway once he finished his degree and manage the family farm. However, after his graduation from Auburn in 1956, Alley went on to Michigan State University and Vanderbilt University for additional training. Once he finished his extra schooling at Vanderbilt, Alley held several titles with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Tennessee including brucellosis coordinator, regional epidemiologist, brucellosis epidemiologist and district veterinarian.
While in Tennessee, he met his future wife, Eleanor. Shortly after their marriage, the two came back to Auburn in 1969 for Alley to take the position of Auburn University’s Extension veterinarian. In 1976, he was appointed as the USDA’s brucellosis coordinator in Montgomery, Alabama. And from 1979 until his retirement in 2001, Alley served as Alabama’s state veterinarian. While in this capacity, Alley was also an adjunct professor of pathobiology at Auburn University and adjunct professor of microbiology at Tuskegee University.
During his professional career, Alley was instrumental in several disease prevention and eradication programs. Under Alley’s guidance, Alabama became tuberculosis free in 1989, swine pseudorabies free in 1997 and brucellosis free in 1999. Alley also assisted in the control and eradication of a salmonella pullorum outbreak in birds in several states in 1990. In addition, Alley helped launch the Stocker 700 program, wrote a monthly column called “Animal Health News” for “The Alabama Cattleman” magazine and initiated the $52 million state agricultural bond issue that helped provide funds for agricultural development throughout the state.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions throughout his long career, Alley has been awarded numerous honors. Most recently, he was named the 2001 Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumni from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He has also earned the distinction of Veterinarian of the Year and won the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association’s Presidential and Service Awards.
Although retired, Alley continues to work for the advancement of agriculture. He is a past president of both the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and the Southeastern Livestock Exposition and also a past secretary of the United States Health Association.
Alley and his wife, Eleanor, live in Montgomery and have two daughters, Meg and Jenna, one granddaughter and one grandson.