Obituary: Dr. James Brandt, 2001-02 AVMA president, dies at 87
R. Scott Nolen
December 08, 2021
Dr. James H. Brandt was studying to be an engineer when his pet dog was hit by a car. He wanted to help the injured animal but didn’t know what to do. Dr. Brandt didn’t like feeling helpless, so he dropped engineering for veterinary medicine.
Years later, Dr. Brandt owned and operated several small animal practices in Florida and was recognized as a leader within the veterinary profession.
As AVMA president in 2001-02, Dr. Brandt had the foresight to steer the Association’s attention toward improving the economic health of the veterinary industry. During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he spoke for a profession that grieved with the nation.
“When we acknowledge and discuss leadership in the Florida VMA, the AVMA, and the world, we always end the conversation with ‘leadership by example.’ There was no greater example than Dr. James Brandt,” said Dr. Richard Sutliff, FVMA president.
Dr. Brandt died Oct. 25 in the company of his wife, Pat, and son, Hadley. He was 87.
Dr. Brandt was born on Oct. 1, 1934, in McPherson, Kansas, and married Patty Sue Hasemeier in 1955. After receiving his veterinary degree in 1964 from Oklahoma State University, Dr. Brandt moved to Florida with Pat and their son. He owned and operated small animal practices in Nokomis and Venice until his retirement in 1997.
He was highly active in organized veterinary medicine. He told JAVMA News in 2013, “Participation seemed to make me feel more involved in the profession and actually made practice that much more enjoyable.”
Dr. Brandt served as president of the Southwest Florida VMA in 1972 and of the FVMA in 1990. He was also a member of the AVMA House of Delegates, serving as Florida’s delegate or alternate delegate from 1989 until his election as AVMA president-elect in 2000.
Regarding being AVMA president during the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Brandt told JAVMA News, the events “created a personal anticipatory anxiety that cast a cloud over the experience, but overall being president was an experience that I would never trade with anybody.”
Following his tenure as AVMA president, Dr. Brandt was elected chair of the AVMA Board of Directors and oversaw the AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust, now known as AVMA Life.
In 2013, he received the AVMA Award—the Association’s highest accolade—for his years of service to the profession.
Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA CEO and executive vice president, said Dr. Brandt was a true friend and champion for the profession.
“In his many years of dedicated service to AVMA in a variety of roles, his concern for people and their families was always a focus. He had a deep respect for the variety of roles veterinarians play in society and was also a passionate champion of veterinary technicians and support staff,” she said. “He had a wonderful sense of humor and would get a twinkle in his eye when talking about veterinary medicine—and that certainly helped during challenging times.
“He and his wife, Pat, were wonderful ambassadors as they traveled the country and indeed the world on behalf of AVMA. He was widely respected and will be deeply missed.”
Dr. Brandt’s impact on the veterinary profession is evident even now. AVMA President José Arce credited his participation in organized veterinary medicine to Dr. Brandt. “I first met Jim Brandt during the 2000 Veterinary Leadership Conference, which I attended as a recent graduate,” Dr. Arce recalled.
“He encouraged me to get involved in the AVMA and organized veterinary medicine. He was truly passionate about our profession and treated everyone with dignity and respect. Jim was a leader of leaders, and will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Ernest Godfrey, Florida’s delegate to the HOD, said: “Jim Brandt was a special person. He always treated everyone like they were important, especially to him. He and Pat were a great couple. They served the veterinary profession, the FVMA, and AVMA for many years. We will all miss him.”
In addition to his wife and son, Dr. Brandt is survived by three grandchildren, a sister, and two brothers.
Memorials may be made to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173, or St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 508 Riviera St., Venice, FL 34285.