When James A. Kennedy took the veterinarian's oath, it was doubtful he realized what an impact he would have on the educational, scientific and agricultural communities he would serve.
His death on Dec. 31did not signal the end of his contributions to science since he had once "accepted as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence." That contribution and the work he began as the director of the Colorado State University Diagnostic Laboratory in Rocky Ford will continue.
Described as a private man, Kennedy was, nonetheless, able to relate to others on many different levels. To his fellow congregants at the First Baptist Church of Rocky Ford, he was a man who put his faith into action. To his colleagues, he was not only the consummate research scientist, he was also a friend, able to interact with the scientific community and the agricultural community.
Kennedy received his Bachelor of Science degree in math from Fort Hays State College, Hays, Kansas, in 1969. In 1979, he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. He followed that with a Master of Science degree in veterinary science (epidemiology) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2003.
Following his graduation from Fort Hays State College, Kennedy served in the United States Air Force from 1970 to 1974. He was a communications and electronics systems officer, supervising more than 60 enlisted personnel and managing the operation and maintenance of high-level multi-million dollar equipment and facilities. In 1973, he was promoted to Captain and served as the chief briefing officer to the Commander Air Force Communications Service until his separation from the service in 1974. Passionate about flying, Kennedy had just renewed his pilot's license and loved to soar above the earth. In fact, he had shared his wish that upon his death, he wanted his cremains to be "scattered to the wind" so he could continue that special bond with flight.
At various times in his life, he held veterinary licenses in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. He began veterinary work in 1979 at Meriweather Veterinary Supply in Miller, South Dakota, where he was an associate veterinarian in the predominately cow/calf operation. From 1980 to 1984, he was the owner and operator of Ellis Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice, in Ellis, Kansas. Kennedy spent time (1984-1985) in Garden City, Kansas, as the veterinarian in charge of food safety inspection at the Monfort plant there.
He returned to private practice in 1985 when he became the owner and operator of Western Veterinary Services, Inc., in Syracuse, Kansas. From 1985 to 1996, he worked primarily with beef cattle in cow/calf, stocker and feedlot operations.
The lure of teaching brought him to Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, University of Nebraska at Curtis, Nebraska, where he was an associate professor and instructional coordinator with teaching responsibilities in college algebra; large animal diseases; large animal restraint; anatomy, immunology and pharmacology. He remained there until 2002 when he became the director of the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Rocky Ford.
At the time of his death, Kennedy oversaw day-to-day lab operations, coordinated diagnostic case results and was a liaison between the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the CSU Diagnostic Lab. He also served as the state coordinator of the Colorado Voluntary BVD (bovine viral diarrhea virus) Control Program.
He was recognized with the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association service award as Colorado's Veterinarian of the Year in 2007. Widely published, Kennedy was also called upon to address various professional and academic endeavors.
Kennedy was born Nov. 1, 1947, to John Kermit and Leota Grace Bailey Kennedy. On Dec. 22, 1966, he and Diana Vernon were married. She preceded him in death.
He and Barbara Voss were married Aug. 26, 2011. Kennedy is survived by his wife, son John Kennedy, daughters Heather Malleck and Jamie Coleman, two brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, a cousin and six grandchildren.
He died Dec. 31, 2011, at his Rocky Ford home at the age of 64.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at the First Baptist Church in Rocky Ford. Inurnment will follow at 2:30 p.m. at the Syracuse Cemetery in Syracuse, Kansas. Fellers Funeral Home in Syracuse is in charge of arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made in Kennedy's name to the First Baptist Church of Rocky Ford, CO 81067, or to any endeavors and organizations he supported through membership: Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, American Veterinary Medical Association, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, Academy of Veterinary Consultants, American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Association of Extension Veterinarians, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Association for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine or the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Source: Colorado State University