Orville R. Walls, 76, a much-loved veterinarian who maintained a practice in Germantown for more than four decades, died Sept. 6 of cancer at his home.

Over the years, Dr. Walls treated a wide variety of animals, and when their owners were unable come to his office in the 5500 block of Greene Street, he would make house calls. It was his compassion in treating his animal patients and his kindness in dealing with their owners that attracted a large and loyal following.

Raised on a farm in Kennett Square, the son of a physician, he graduated from Kennett Consolidated School and Lincoln University, where he majored in chemistry and biology. After completing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Drexel University, he worked for a time in the anatomy laboratory at Einstein Hospital, Southern Division.

Dr. Walls’ career plans changed, however, when he attended a tutorial on animal practice given by a veterinarian friend of his father. Soon after, he applied to the veterinary school at Tuskegee University in Alabama – one of the few veterinary schools accepting African Americans – and graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry and a doctorate in veterinary medicine.

He completed an internship at at the LeFlore County Veterinary Hospital in Poteau, Okla., and returned to the Philadelphia area in 1969, becoming the third black veterinarian licensed to practice in Pennsylvania.

During the course of his career, Dr. Walls had been a doctor to a Philadelphia Police K-9 unit and had worked with the Pennsylvania SPCA and the 4-H Club. He also had assisted other veterinarians at the Bustleton Avenue Animal Hospital, the O’Neal Animal Hospital, the Morris Animal Refuge and the Chel-Wayne Animal Hospital.

In March of this year, the Alumni Association of Lincoln University presented him with its distinguished service award.

Dr. Walls is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Yvette Sills; sons Orville R. Walls III and Brian K. Walls; and a daughter Kathleen E. Walls.

A memorial service was held Sept. 22 at the Greene Street Friends Meeting House in Germantown. Memorial donations may be made to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, 100 N. Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. – WF