J.[ohn] Franklin Witter was born on June 11, 1906 in Frederick, Maryland. After graduating from high school, Witter enrolled at the University of Maryland in the fall of 1924 to study agriculture. While at the university, Witter joined the Y.M.C.A., the Student Grange, the Poe Literary Society, the Calvert Forum, the Livestock Club, the Varsity Debating Team, and a fraternity, Delta Psi Omega. He often worked two jobs, one in the dining hall and the other in the Extension Service Office, to help defray the cost of his education. In addition, Witter was a member of three honorary societies: Alpha Zeta, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi. During his senior year, Witter was president of the Y.M.C.A. and a member of the Y.M.C.A. Cabinet, Master of the Student Grange, president of the Inter-fraternity Council, president of the Tri-State Council Christian, Associations, captain of the Debate team, and president of the Livestock Club. In 1928 he received his degree as an Honor Roll student of the College of Agriculture.
After graduation, he taught vocational agricultural courses at West Friendship High School in Lisbon, Maryland for one year. The next year Witter entered the veterinary program at Michigan State College, worked as a graduate assistant in the animal pathology department, and in 1932 received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.
Rather than open his own veterinary practice, Dr. Witter accepted a teaching position at the University of Maine in 1932 as an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Industry. Within ten years he attained the rank of professor and subsequently served as professor and head of the Department of Animal Pathology for fifteen years. In addition to teaching, Dr. Witter wrote several articles on diseases of poultry and large animals. In 1971 he retired as professor emeritus.
In addition to his teaching career, Dr. Witter served his state and his community. From 1940 to 1942 he was an advisor to the Division of Animal Industry of the State Department of Agriculture. He was a member of both the American and Maine Veterinary Medicine Associations and served as secretary- treasurer and president of the latter. Dr. Witter also belonged to the Poultry Science Association. In addition, Dr. Witter was a Kiwanian and in 1955 served as the lieutenant governor of the North East District. He was also a member of the Church of Universal Fellowship.
J. Franklin Witter died in September 1982 in Orono, Maine. He was survived by his wife, Verna, whom he married in 1933, and his son, R. L. Witter.