In Memory: Childers, dedicated volunteer and practitioner, dies at 93

Dr. Henry E. Childers
Dr. Henry E. Childers

Dr. Henry E. Childers, a former president of the AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) who once quipped he had to be “dragged kicking and screaming” into retirement after decades as a small animal practitioner, died April 15, 2024. He was 93.

Dr. Childers was born July 29, 1930, in Selma, Alabama. A lover of animals and science, veterinary medicine was a natural fit for Dr. Childers, who graduated in 1954 from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

He spent two years in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps stationed in Boston, where he met his wife, Pat. Dr. Childers then worked briefly for the Rhode Island Division of Agriculture before he and Pat founded the Cranston Animal Hospital in 1957 in Cranston, Rhode Island. Dr. Childers practiced there until his retirement in April 2014.

Later that year, Dr. Childers received the AVMA Award for his contributions to organized veterinary medicine.

Dr. Christina Lorenson, then-president of the Rhode Island VMA (RIVMA), nominated Dr. Childers for the award on behalf of the organization, writing “Dr. Childers is a familiar name to a great many people involved in organized veterinary medicine. His contributions to the field are innumerable, and he is not only well-respected locally, regionally, and nationally, but he is beloved by those who know him.”

Dr. Childers was active in organized veterinary medicine throughout his career. He once told AVMA News, “Organized veterinary medicine is important because it brings together veterinarians with knowledge and expertise in many areas to help make decisions in the best interest of the profession.”

His involvement with the RIVMA included serving two terms as president, chairing the Continuing Education Committee for 15 years, and serving as editor of the RIVMA newsletter. He is a past president of the New England VMA and a past chair of the Rhode Island Board of Veterinary Medicine.

In 1966, Cranston Animal Hospital earned AAHA accreditation. Dr. Childers became an area director and a regional director for AAHA before becoming 1988-89 AAHA president.

Among his activities with the AVMA, Dr. Childers was a member of the AVMA Council on Education and the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. He served on the AVMA Board of Directors as a district representative before becoming 2005-06 AVMA president. He dedicated his presidency to promoting professional unity.

Dr. Childers taught at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and served on the advisory boards of veterinary technology programs at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and at the New England Institute of Technology. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in canine and feline practice.

His community involvement included serving as commodore of the Edgewood Yacht Club in Cranston and as president of the Cranston Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Childers is survived by his wife, Pat; four children; and six grandchildren.

Visit the Fagan-Quinn Funeral Home online for information and online condolences.

A version of this story appears in the June 2024 print issue of JAVMA