June 3, 2004--Vernon G. Vernier, 79, died May 20, in Newark.
In the late 1990s, he taught physiology to senior pre-med students at the University of Delaware.
Born in Norwalk, Conn., he was graduated from Crane Technical High School in Chicago and went on to study at the University of Chicago. He continued his studies at Randolph-Macon College and Temple University with the Army Specialized Training Program. His graduate studies in medicine were at George Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he received his bachelors degree in medicine in 1947 and his medical degree in 1949.
Dr. Vernier was head of the neuropharmacology unit for Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories from 1956-62. During this time, he helped develop the drug Elavil, an anti-depressant, and he considered that to be one of his biggest contributions. During the Korean War, he was in the Army Medical Corps and worked as a neuropharmacologist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He continued his research and drug development at DuPont's Stine Lab in Newark, working on anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories, analgesics and anti-Parkinson drugs, among others, from 1963-85, when he retired. He continued to consult for DuPont for many years.
Dr. Vernier was a member of the Delaware State Advisory Council of Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Mental Health from 1970-94. He was also the medical director for the Chronic Alcoholism Rehab Program Ward. For 27 years, he was a member of the Institutional Review Board of Wilmington Medical Center and the Medical Center of Delaware, reviewing and approving research protocols for scientific merit and risk.
During his life, Dr. Vernier ran 27 marathons and hiked the Appalachian Trail four times, all after the age of 50. He ran the Boston Marathon 14 times, New York four times, one in Russia and even the original marathon from Marathon to Athens, Greece. He was an avid hiker, "through hiking" the Appalachian Trail twice and hiking it 2 more times, mapping the trail for the Appalachian Trail Conference. "Del Doc," his trail name, was the hiking medicine columnist for the Appalachian Trailway News.
Dr. Vernier was one of the earliest members of the Newark Symphony Orchestra, playing the oboe and the English horn with the orchestra until recently. He served as president of the organizations board several times. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Newark and was on the Session and in the choir. He also served as president of the board of the Newark Day Nursery.
He is survived by his wife, Alice Mae (Dame) Vernier; four children, Vicky Wallace (Mark) of Newark, Vann Vernier (Kim) of Waynesboro, Va., Kendra Hicken (Michael) of Kennett Square, Pa., and Vinton Vernier of Wilmington; seven grandchildren; and a sister, Verna Jean Mason (James) of Chapel Hill, N.C.
Contributions may be made to the Newark Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 7775, Newark, DE 19714-7775 (telephone 302-369-3466); to the Appalachian Trail Conference, P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425 (telephone 304-535-6331); or to the First Presbyterian Church (telephone 302-731-5644).