posted February 15, 2007
Dr. Shelton Pinkerton, a proponent of planned change as AVMA president and a statesman for the profession on the world scene, died Jan. 16. Dr. Pinkerton, of Pensacola, Fla., was 80. He was a 1954 graduate of Auburn University and a World War II veteran.
Dr. Pinkerton chaired the AVMA Executive Board from 1988-1989, the final year of his term representing District III. His election as president-elect followed that year, and in 1990, he became the AVMA’s 112th president.
Of his presidency, Dr. Pinkerton said one of the most gratifying accomplishments was the purchase of a larger headquarters facility. The Executive Board approved his recommendation to support that task force’s suggestion and to expand the Washington, D.C., office. The AVMA moved into its new headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., in 1991 and purchased the Governmental Relations Division’s first home in 2004.
Another proud achievement was setting the strategic planning process in motion. Dr. Pinkerton was involved in the AVMA’s initial strategic planning to develop both a plan and a mechanism for change.
To address the information needs identified by the Strategic Planning Task Force, the board approved Dr. Pinkerton’s recommendation to commission “an aggressive survey” on the outside influences and internal factors that affect the profession.
To provide long-range leadership for the profession’s political future, he called for creation of a Council on Government Affairs, and the 1991 House of Delegates approved a bylaws amendment creating (the now sunset) Council on Governmental Affairs. His recommendation had resolved concerns that beset a similar proposal.
Dr. Pinkerton’s idea of appealing to constituent associations and allied groups to collectively support a second AVMA Congressional Fellowship each year was also successful. The AVMA began awarding two fellowships in 1991. He chaired the committee which, in 1988, selected the first AVMA fellow.
His departure from the AVMA presidency in 1991 was followed with his election by the World Veterinary Association to a four-year term as North American vice president. The WVA was in a time of transition. As former AVMA president Dr. Sherbyn Ostrich said, “The AVMA Executive Board sent him as an emissary to try and straighten out things we saw as unfair. When he stood, people listened. He was a gentleman and understood how to talk to adversaries as well as friends.”
Dr. Pinkerton’s priorities were to strengthen the WVA infrastructure, enhance credibility, and establish a clear direction. At issue, he had said, was not only how the AVMA’s involvement benefits North American veterinarians but also those in third-world countries and the profession as a whole. He chaired the WVA Policy Committee.
Current WVA president Dr. Leon H. Russell said, “Dr. Pinkerton was very instrumental and a key leader in the successful reorganization of the World Veterinary Association, which was fully implemented by 1999.”
In 1995, Dr. Pinkerton reported to the AVMA on their progress and future prospects for continued improvement. Although the WVA re-elected him to a second term, he resigned when the Executive Board discontinued AVMA membership in the WVA in 1997. Although the HOD later dissented on that action, it stood.
Although it was not until 1999 that the AVMA rejoined the WVA, Dr. Ostrich said, “I credit Shelton with turning things around, and it is especially important today that we’re involved in the WVA because of global concerns such as avian influenza.”
In 1996, Dr. Pinkerton was elected an honorary member, a distinction conferred on only a few. His contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations won him the AVMA Award—the Association’s highest recognition—in 1997. An honor roll member, he kept a room at home devoted to his AVMA career, which also included the presidency of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and service on the Council on Veterinary Service. He chaired a task force that helped create a new AVMA convention format in 1988.
Dr. Pinkerton’s first professional venture was a mixed practice in Troy, Ala. Moving to Florida in 1959, he practiced for many years in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. In 1974, Dr. Pinkerton was recognized as Florida Veterinarian of the Year. He was involved in establishment of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. He served as president of the Florida VMA and Northwest Florida VMA (three terms), and on the board of the Southern Veterinary Medical Federation.
Dr. Apostolos Rantsios of Greece, WVA president from 1995-1999, came to know Dr. Pinkerton well, serving on the WVA Finance Committee when Dr. Pinkerton led it. Dr. Rantsios said, “His commanding personality significantly influenced the decisions, and his positive approach in the decision-making process gained for him widely acknowledged respect.
“In these ways, he made a major contribution in shaping the WVA as we know it today, guaranteeing in the process a distinguished position in the WVA history.”
Dr. Pinkerton is survived by his wife, Dorothy; daughter, Sharon; son, Drew; and granddaughter, Lauren. His family has requested that memorial contributions be made to a favorite charity.