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May 01, 2021

Obituaries

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Allan J. Ahearne

Dr. Ahearne (Cornell ’57), 88, Warwick, New York, died Jan. 10, 2021. He began his career in farm animal practice in Cumberland, Maryland. In 1959, Dr. Ahearne moved to Long Island, New York, where he established Oceanside Animal Hospital. During his career, he also served as a veterinarian with the New York State Gaming Commission, was executive dean of Ross University College of Veterinary Medicine from 1990-91, and was a regular guest commentator on “Warren Eckstein & The Pet Show,” a weekly radio program.

Dr. Ahearne was a past president of the New York State Board for Veterinary Medicine and Long Island Veterinary Medical Society and served on the executive board of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn; two sons and two daughters; and six grandchildren.

Kurt A. Bales

Dr. Bales (Purdue ’87), 58, Ridott, Illinois, died Jan. 13, 2021. A mixed animal veterinarian, he began his career at New Hope Veterinary Clinic in German Valley, Illinois. A year later, Dr. Bales joined King Animal Care Clinic in Topeka, Indiana, where he worked for four years. He then returned to New Hope Veterinary Clinic, where he practiced for the next 27 years.

Dr. Bales is survived by his wife, Vicki; three sons and a daughter; his parents; and two brothers and a sister. Memorials may be made to Park Hills Evangelical Free Church, 2525 W. Stephenson St., Freeport, IL 61032.

Robert E. Barnhart

Dr. Barnhart (Auburn ’54), 91, Braselton, Georgia, died Dec. 14, 2020. He worked for the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network in Oakwood prior to retirement. Earlier, Dr. Barnhart served as a second lieutenant in the Army and was in small animal practice for a few years. His wife, Sara; two sons, two daughters, and three stepsons; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Helping Hands Foreign Missions, 5043 Bristol Industrial Way, Buford, GA 30518.

Henry E. Blazek III

Dr. Blazek (Texas A&M ’66), 82, Hearne, Texas, died Dec. 8, 2020. Following graduation, he owned North Shore Animal Hospital, a mixed animal practice in Houston, for 31 years. Dr. Blazek then practiced at Kurten Veterinary Services in Kurten, Texas, for 10 years prior to retirement, also raising cattle during that time. He was a veteran of the Army, attaining the rank of captain. Dr. Blazek’s wife, Nancy; a son; two grandchildren; and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th, Bryan, TX 77803.

Max D. Brand

Dr. Brand (Michigan State ’56), 90, North Manchester, Indiana, died Dec. 7, 2020. Following graduation, he practiced large animal medicine in Niles, Michigan. In 1958, Dr. Brand moved to Indiana, where he established Memorial Park Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Fort Wayne. He subsequently founded New Haven Pet Hospital in New Haven, Indiana. In 1978, Veterinary Economics magazine awarded the practice a merit award for hospital design. Dr. Brand is survived by his wife, Yvonne; three daughters and a son; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Randy J. DeDecker

Dr. DeDecker (Wisconsin ’88), 68, Hortonville, Wisconsin, died Jan. 25, 2021. He owned Country View Animal Hospital in Neenah, Wisconsin, since 2003. Prior to that, Dr. DeDecker worked in several communities across Wisconsin. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a son and a daughter; three grandchildren; and three sisters. Memorials may be made to Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust, 14 Tri-Park Way #1, Appleton, WI 54914, or Wisconsin Public Television, 821 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706.

John E. Harkness

Dr. Harkness (Michigan State ’68), 80, Starkville, Mississippi, died Dec. 7, 2020. Following graduation, he served four years as a professor as part of a joint project between Kansas State University and the U.S. Agency for International Development to establish and staff a veterinary degree program at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria. Dr. Harkness subsequently earned his master’s in laboratory animal medicine and a master’s in education from the University of Missouri, where he also served a year as a faculty member in the professorial track and as a laboratory animal veterinarian.

From 1977-84, he was a member of the veterinary faculty at Pennsylvania State University. During that time, Dr. Harkness received tenure as a professor and served as a clinical laboratory animal veterinarian. In 1984, he joined Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine as the university’s first laboratory animal veterinarian, also teaching courses in laboratory animal and exotic animal medicine, animal behavior, and veterinary ethics. Dr. Harkness retired as a professor emeritus in 2004. In 2009, he served nine months as interim head laboratory animal veterinarian at Columbia University.

Dr. Harkness was a diplomate and a past president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. He was also a past chair of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International’s Council on Accreditation and was active with the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, and Phi Zeta. In 1987, Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine honored Dr. Harkness with the President’s Pegasus Award. In 1999, he received the Vice President’s Pegasus Award. AAALAC International honored Dr. Harkness with the 2017 Bennett J. Cohen Award, for a lifetime of exceptional service and significant contributions in the promotion of animal care in research, testing, and educational programs.

Dr. Harkness is survived by his wife, Virginia; two daughters, a son, and a stepdaughter; eight grandchildren; and two brothers. Memorials may be made to the Starkville-Oktibbeha Public Library, 326 University Drive, Starkville, MS 39759, or to the Starkville Area Arts Council, 101 S. Lafayette St., Suite 18, Starkville, MS 39759.

Gary E. Hefner

Dr. Hefner (Texas A&M ’70), 75, McKinney, Texas, died Jan. 26, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced equine medicine in Houston. In 1972, Dr. Hefner established a practice in Allen, Texas, where he worked until retirement in 2017. For several years, he served as veterinarian for several chapters of the National FFA Organization in Texas’s Collin County. Dr. Hefner is survived by his wife, Michele; two daughters and a son; and five grandchildren. Memorials, toward the Dr. Gary E. Hefner Memorial Scholarship Fund, may be made to Foundation for Allen Schools, c/o Allen Independent School District Administration, 612 E. Bethany Drive, Allen, TX 75002.

Myron W. Koch

Dr. Koch (Illinois ’75), 70, Ursa, Illinois, died Jan. 12, 2021. He owned Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Quincy, Illinois, for more than 40 years prior to retirement. Dr. Koch also served as volunteer veterinarian for the Adams County Fair, helping to establish and promote the fair’s 4-H beef auction, and was instrumental in founding the Western Illinois Cattle Alliance. In 2011, the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce named his practice Agribusiness of the Year.

Active in his community, Dr. Koch served on the board of directors for the village of Ursa, was a member of the Ursa Lions Club, volunteered with the Ursa Park Festival, and was active with the Boy Scouts. He mentored and tutored young people and was honored by the Friends of Unit 4 Schools for his contributions. Dr. Koch is survived by his wife, Mary; six daughters; 18 grandchildren; and a sister. Memorials may be made to the John Wood Community College Foundation, 1301 S. 48th St., Quincy, IL 62305; St. Dominic Catholic School, 4100 Columbus Road, Quincy, IL 62305; or Adams County Fair, 2010 E. 1250th St., Mendon, IL 62351.

Efren A. Osorio

Dr. Osorio, 62, Middletown, Connecticut, died Jan. 21, 2021. A 1982 veterinary graduate of the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas in Mexico, he began his veterinary career in the United States at Middletown Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Osorio eventually bought Veterinary Associates of North Branford in North Branford, Connecticut. In February, the North Branford Town Council voted to name the town’s dog park the Osorio Dog Park in his honor.

Dr. Osorio’s wife, Katrina, three brothers, and two sisters survive him. Memorials may be made to the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, 749 E Main St., Branford, CT 06405.

Randall E. Pedersen

Dr. Pedersen (Kansas State ’65), 83, Royal, Nebraska, died Dec. 16, 2020. He was a dairy herd health consultant in Royal. Dr. Pedersen began his career in mixed animal practice in Wetmore, Kansas. He subsequently worked six years in Plymouth, Nebraska. In 1972, Dr. Pedersen established Blue Valley Veterinary Clinic in Beatrice, Nebraska, where he practiced until 1996. He then moved to Royal. During his career, Dr. Pedersen also served as Nebraska state fair veterinarian for more than 30 years.
 
A member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, he served on its Reproduction Committee. Dr. Pedersen was also a life member of the Nebraska VMA and a member of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants. In 2009, Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Medical Alumni Association honored him with an Alumni Recognition Award. Dr. Pedersen received the Nebraska VMA Distinguished Service Award in 2020.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a son and two daughters; 14 grandchildren; his mother; and a sister. Dr. Pedersen’s son, Dr. Bruce J. Pedersen (Kansas State ’92), and a grandson, Dr. Kipling C. Pedersen (London ’20), are also veterinarians.

Kevin S. Roberts

Dr. Roberts (Virginia-Maryland ’86), 64, Berryville, Virginia, died Nov. 30, 2020. He began his career practicing mixed animal medicine in Beckley, West Virginia. In 1989, Dr. Roberts moved to Charles Town, West Virginia, where he established Hunters Hill Veterinary Hospital, a small animal practice. The practice was later renamed Hillside Veterinary Hospital.

In the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Dr. Roberts wrote a veterinary column for Spirit of Jefferson, a weekly newspaper. His wife, Jane; two daughters and a son; and four brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to the Adult Care Center of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, 411 N. Cameron St., Suite 100, Winchester, VA 22601.

Burke A. Robinette

Dr. Robinette (Michigan State ’50), 92, Green Bay, Wisconsin, died Dec. 30, 2020. He practiced in the Coleman and Lena areas of Wisconsin for 42 years prior to retirement. Dr. Robinette was a member of the Wisconsin VMA, Masonic Lodge, Coleman Pound Lions Club, and Coleman Businessmen’s Association. His wife, Helen; three daughters; seven grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Office of Development, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607.

James D. Rothenbusch

Dr. Rothenbusch (Ohio State ’84), 62, Hamilton, Ohio, died Sept. 12, 2020. He practiced at Paddy’s Run Veterinary Care in Hamilton. Dr. Rothenbusch is survived by his family.

Curtis C. Starkebaum

Dr. Starkebaum (Colorado State ’45), 97, Littleton, Colorado, died Feb. 1, 2021. Following graduation, he served in the Army, including two years in the Veterinary Corps in Germany. In 1950, Dr. Starkebaum established a clinic in Gunnison, Colorado, where he practiced mixed animal medicine until retirement. During that period, he also taught biology part time at Western Colorado University for more than 20 years.

Active in his community, Dr. Starkebaum was a member of the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department, served on the board of directors of the Gunnison Fire Protection District, and was a past chair of the Gunnison County Planning Commission. He was also a member of the Lions Club for more than 40 years. Dr. Starkebaum’s three sons and seven grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Habitat for Humanity, 3245 Eliot St., Denver, CO 80211; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; Western Colorado University Foundation, 909 Escalante Drive, Gunnison, CO 81230; or Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601.

Joseph E. Stolze

Dr. Stolze (Iowa State ’90), 60, Omaha, Nebraska, died Jan. 20, 2021. Following graduation, he worked a year in Mankato, Minnesota. Dr. Stolze subsequently moved to Omaha, where he worked for the Animal Spay-Neuter Clinic for 28 years. His wife, Elizabeth; three children; his father; and seven siblings survive him. Memorials may be made to St. Pius X Catholic Church, 6905 Blondo St., Omaha, NE 68104, or Mercy High School, 1501 S. 48th St., Omaha, NE 68106.

Richard E. Thoma

Dr. Thoma (Cornell ’65), 79, Akron, New York, died Sept. 8, 2020. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Town and Country Animal Clinic in Cheektowaga, New York, for several years prior to retirement. Dr. Thoma was involved in research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, helping to develop photodynamic therapy. He was active with several veterinary organizations and was a major contributor to Ducks Unlimited. Dr. Thoma served in the Army from 1967-69, attaining the rank of captain. He is survived by his family.

A. Hunter Wilcox

Dr. Wilcox (Pennsylvania ’71), 75, Lumberton, New Jersey, died Jan. 5, 2021. From 1972 until retirement in 2013, he practiced small animal medicine at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, becoming co-owner of the practice in 1976. Dr. Wilcox also trained English Pointer dogs and participated in competitive field trials.

Active in organized veterinary medicine, he served on the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, was a past official of the Southern New Jersey VMA, and served as a director of the American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Wilcox was a past president of the English Setter Club of New Jersey, was elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame, and was a trustee of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, serving as a past chair of the AFTCA 20th Century Fund to help guarantee the perpetuation of the sport.

He is survived by his wife, Louise; a daughter; two grandchildren; and a sister. Memorials may be made to the AFTCA 20th Century Fund, Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, c/o Piper Huffman, 2873 Whippoorwill Road, Michigan City, MS 38647.