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Retired CVM Leader
Dr. Kenneth Niemeyer Passes Away

Dr. Kenneth Niemeyer (right) and Dean Robert Kahrs with the College’s mascots, Hillda and Louise in 1985.

Dr. Kenneth H. Niemeyer, who earned his bachelor’s degree, doctor of veterinary medicine and master’s degree at the University of Missouri and went to serve his alma mater as a College of Veterinary Medicine faculty member and administrator, died Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011. He was 83.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, at Memorial Park Funeral Home in Columbia, Mo. Burial will in Memorial Park Cemetery immediately following the service. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home immediately following the graveside services.

Dr. Niemeyer was born to William C. and Olinda C. Schwerdt Niemeyer on Sept. 15, 1928, in St. Louis. His family relocated to a 100-acre farm near Treloar, east of Hermann, Mo. There he learned to milk cows, raise chickens and grow crops, experiences he said influenced his decision to pursue veterinary medicine. “I remembered how veterinarians would come out to our farm and treat our animals, that’s what I wanted to do,” he recounted in an interview for an article in the Spring/Summer 1999 Veterinary Medical Review.

Dr. Niemeyer served in the U.S. Navy from 1946 to 1949 as an electrician, which included one year on the aircraft carrier USS TARAWA. He returned to Columbia following his military service and enrolled in the University of Missouri under the G.I. Bill. He married Margaret R. Rennick on April 3, 1953.

He earned a bachelor of science and his DVM in 1955. After working briefly at a small animal clinic in St. Louis, he was offered a teaching position at MU. He said he planned to teach just two years and then open his own practice.

“But you know, I enjoyed working with the students. They challenge you. I was only a few years older than my students, and I felt I was learning more than they were,” the VMR article quoted him as saying.

He completed his master of science at MU in 1962. In 1963, he was hired as an associate professor and took over the duties as the director of the Small Animal Clinic at the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1964 to 1968.

In 1976, Dr. Niemeyer was named assistant dean for student and alumni affairs and essentially began developing an alumni relations program from the ground up. He is credited with initiating alumni publications and beginning a College development fund. With others, he also started the College’s annual fund-raiser for student scholarships — the Gentle Doctor Benefit. Dr. Niemeyer is credited as serving as the point person for raising the private support needed for the construction of Clydesdale Hall, which now houses the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. He also oversaw its construction, which was complete in 1993. He served as the interim chairman of veterinary medicine and surgery in 1981 and 1982. In 1985, his position was consolidated with that of the associate dean of academic affairs, a post he held until his retirement in 1993 after 38 years of service. He was known as an influential teacher who mentored hundreds of veterinary students.

Following his retirement, he was named as a professor emeritus.

Although he retired, Dr. Niemeyer remained active at the CVM.  He helped raise funds and oversaw the College’s 50th anniversary celebration. A tireless champion of the College, Dr. Niemeyer, along with his wife, established the Visiting Lecture Fund, which brings prestigious speakers to the College to deliver scientific lectures to students, faculty and other interested individuals. He and his wife were also members of the Jefferson Club.

His other memberships included the American Animal Hospital Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, Central Veterinary Medical Association, Association of Veterinary Clinicians, Association of Veterinary Medical Educators, Sigma Xi, Gamma Sigma Delta and Phi Zeta. He also served on the Advisory Board to Animal Control for  the City of Columbia.

He was a longtime member of Missouri United Methodist Church.

Dr. Niemeyer was well-respected among his peers. He received the Faculty Improvement Award from the MU Graduate School, he was named the CVM Alumnus of the Year Award 1986, and the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association presented Dr. Niemeyer with its most prestigious award when its members named him Veterinarian of the Year in 1993. In the 50th year historical pictorial review of the College, it was said of Dr. Niemeyer, that “no one individual gave such steady, loyal and consistent service to the college.”

Dr. Niemeyer is survived by his wife, Margaret of Columbia; one son, Russell W. Niemeyer and his wife, Pamela J., of Hobbs, N.M.; two grandsons, Kyle W. Niemeyer and Michael J. Niemeyer, also of Hobbs, N.M.; one brother-in-law, Robert F. Rennick and his wife, Mary, of Jefferson City; one sister-in-law, Juanita Rennick of Washington, Mo; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, colleagues and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother-in-law, James W. Rennick.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Niemeyer Lecture Fund, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, 1600 E. Rollins, Columbia, Mo. 65211; or to the College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association, Kenneth H. Niemeyer Scholarship Fund, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, 1600 E. Rollins, Columbia, Mo., 65211.

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Last Update: February 29, 2012