Cover photo for Brenda Gavin's Obituary
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1948 Brenda 2016

Brenda Gavin

April 21, 1948 — March 17, 2016

Obituary for Brenda Davidson Gavin Dr.

Dr. Brenda Davidson Gavin, DVM, MBA   Former Seneca resident Dr. Brenda Davidson Gavin, 67, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania died suddenly March 17, 2016. A nationally recognized venture capitalist and Philadelphia business leader, Brenda nurtured many new life science companies and mentored an extraordinary number of both young and established colleagues. Struck down by a catastrophic cerebral hemorrhage, Brenda continued to help others to the end, providing gift-of-life donations to four organ recipients. Brenda was born April 21, 1948 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma to William J. (Bill) Davidson and Erma Dee (Nolan) Davidson, who owned and operated the Otasco store in Seneca for many years. Brenda grew up in Tulsa, OK and Springfield and Seneca, MO. She was a 1966 graduate of Seneca High School. After completing her Bachelor of Science degree at Baylor University in 1970 she worked as a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania and for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Brenda returned to Missouri in 1973 to train in veterinary medicine and was awarded her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Missouri in 1977. Immediately after vet school graduation Brenda joined the two-year Epidemic Intelligence Service program at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. As a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, she was a member of the CDC team that identified the major source of the bacterium that resulted in 39 cases (3 deaths) of Legionnaire's Disease at Indiana University. In 1979 Brenda entered the Master of Business Administration program at the University of Texas-San Antonio where she first heard of and was intrigued by the emerging field of venture capital. After earning her MBA in 1981 she joined International Minerals and Chemical Corporation in Terre Haute, IN and later moved to Chicago to manage IMC's venture capital investments and business development activities. Brenda returned to Philadelphia in 1986 as Director of Business Development for SmithKlineBeecham Animal Health Products. She remained with SmithKline until 2002, moving into the firm's venture capital division and eventually being named president of its bioscience venture capital subsidiary, S.R.One.    In 2002 Brenda co-founded Quaker Partners, a $700 million venture capital firm based in Philadelphia that focused on health care and biotechnology development in the region and she remained active with the firm until her death. Brenda was one of the earliest and most prominent women in venture capital investing and was a singular mentor to innumerable women in the field. During her career Brenda worked with scientists and physicians to start many new companies and guided numerous new start-ups as a board member and investor. While recognized for her scientific understanding and business acumen, she is best known for the extraordinary breadth of her relationships and connections in the science and business worlds, able to effortlessly connect potential leaders with new companies, investors with new product ideas and both young and seasoned colleagues with new opportunities.  Brenda was an accomplished cook and loved to entertain. An avid reader, she was a longtime member of a small book discussion group made up of friends and business colleagues. She was an active member and leader at Overbook Presbyterian Church, where for 30 years she treasured its diverse membership and superlative music program. Brenda maintained close relationships with many of her Seneca High classmates and was excited by the prospect of seeing them at the Class of '66 50-year reunion scheduled for this coming summer. Brenda married Laurence (Larry) Gavin, M.D., an emergency medicine (ER) physician, on May 30, 1987 in Philadelphia, and he survives. Additional survivors are their son, Zachary William Gavin of Philadelphia, her mother Erma Davidson Trogdon and her sister, Glenna Davidson Murdock (husband Jim), both of Loveland CO. Her father, William (Bill) Davidson predeceased her in 1984.  On March 25, 2016 the family received friends at Chadwick-McKinney Funeral Home, Ardmore, PA. A memorial service took place at Overbook Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia on Saturday, March 26, 2016. Cremation has been conducted.
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