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Noted alumnus and veterinary leader Kahrs dies at 91

Kahrs was born and raised in Lynbrook, New York.

Robert Kahrs ’52, D.V.M. ’54, M.S. ’63, Ph.D. ’65 — college alumnus, associate dean, bovine vaccine scholar and leader across veterinary institutions — died Oct. 28 in Colfax, North Carolina. He was 91.

“Dr. Kahrs will be remembered for the commitment, professionalism and energy he devoted to the veterinary profession. He had a positive impact wherever he served and was dedicated to his alma mater. We appreciate all he did for the college and extend our sincere condolences to his family and many friends and colleagues,” said Lorin D. Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. ’94, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine.

Kahrs was born and raised in Lynbrook, New York, and came to Cornell for his undergraduate education. He stayed to pursue his doctorate of veterinary medicine at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). At Cornell, Kahrs met his wife Evelyn. The pair married in 1953.

Kahrs was dean of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine from 1982-1992.

Upon completion of his undergraduate degree in 1952 and his doctorate of veterinary medicine in 1954, Kahrs practiced large animal medicine in Interlaken and Attica, New York. He returned to Cornell in 1961 to teach and study bovine vaccines. He received an M.S. in 1963, followed by a Ph.D. in 1965, and remained to teach at CVM and in the agriculture college. While at CVM, Kahrs served as associate dean and director of veterinary admissions. He also served on the Board of Education for Dryden Central School, where his four children attended.

As dean of veterinary medicine at the University of Missouri, Kahrs acquired the goodwill ambassador mule team pictured here, Hillda and Louise, to help rebrand and promote the college.

Kahrs was an advocate for the veterinary profession in New York and beyond, mobilizing other members of the community around important issues in veterinary medicine, public health and agriculture. In 1977, Kahrs joined the University of Florida Veterinary College to chair their Department of Preventative Medicine. Kahrs then served as dean of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine from 1982 to 1992, after which he was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an international trade negotiator and director of the International Center for Import and Export.

In 2004, the College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association awarded Kahrs the Daniel Elmer Salmon Award for Distinguished Alumni Service. This award recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves in service to the profession, their communities or to the college. Kahrs was involved with CVM in many ways. He served on the Alumni Association Executive Committee and co-chaired several Reunions for the Class of 1954. He was also a noted scholar and veterinary historian, writing multiple textbooks and an autobiography.

Pictured here at a 2014 Cornell Reunion event, Kahrs co-chaired several Reunions for the Class of 1954.

Upon retirement from the government, Kahrs moved to St. Augustine, Florida, and subsequently to River Landing in Colfax, North Carolina. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Evelyn, and their four children, six grandchildren, two great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

All services will be private. Donations may be made to the Veterinary College Class of 1954 Scholarship Fund in his honor. Visit CVM’s online giving page to make the donation and specify this fund in the “Other” field. Donations may also be made to the Mule Fund and Public Relations Fund at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, or to the endowment fund at The Center for Spiritual Living at 1795 Old Moultrie Road, in St. Augustine, Florida.

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