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College Honors Memory of Dr. James A. Kennedy, Director of Rocky Ford Diagnostic Laboratory

Dr. James KennedyOn Dec. 31, 2011, Dr. James A. Kennedy, Director of the Colorado State Diagnostic Laboratory in Rocky Ford, passed away suddenly. He was 64 years old and had been Director of the Laboratory since 2002.

Dr. Kennedy received his Bachelor of Science degree in math from Fort Hays State College, in Hays, Kansas, in 1969. In 1979, he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine 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, Dr. Kennedy served in the United States

Air Force from 1970 to 1974, during which time he worked as a communications and electronics systems officer. Passionate about flying, Dr. Kennedy had just renewed his pilot's license and loved to soar above the earth. It was, though, his love of veterinary medicine that shaped Dr. Kennedy’s legacy.

He began his veterinary work in 1979 at Meriweather Veterinary Supply in Miller, S.D., 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. Dr. 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, Dr. Kennedy was serving in this position which entailed the oversight of day-to-day lab operations, coordination of diagnostic case results, and serving as 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.

It was his work in this field of study that earned him the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association service award as Colorado's Veterinarian of the Year in 2007. Through his interest in studying the disease, Dr. Kennedy set out to establish Colorado as the first state in the nation to be certified as BVD-free. Widely published, Kennedy also was called upon to address various professional and academic endeavors.

Dr. Kennedy’s first wife, Diana Vernon, preceded him in death. He and Barbara Voss were married Aug. 26, 2011. Dr. 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. Memorial contributions may be made in Dr. 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; and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

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