Tribute to Dr. James Robert Richards
James Robert Richards, Jr., DVM (1948-2007)
Jim Richards was a champion of cats, his kitties or little critters as he fondly referred to them. He was truly an ambassador for feline medicine. Through his many media exposures, he was the face of Cornell University and the Cornell Feline Health Center (CFHC).
A graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, he practiced for several years in Ohio, then joined the staff of the CFHC in 1991, becoming Director in 1997. Through his energy, enthusiasm, charisma, and mentoring of students, he expanded the image of feline medicine within Cornell University and within the veterinary profession.
He was a friend to all who knew him, even those with whom he only talked on the telephone or corresponded by email (signing off with his trademark JimBob). A man of deep faith and of great humility, he strongly believed in the worth of every person, and always had the time to chat, to laugh, and to encourage anyone with whom he came in contact. A gifted musician, he often led the worship service with hymns and choruses at our church. He could unfold the scriptures in a way that spoke to those attending the worship service, and his prayers were powerful.
Jim had a special place in the lives of veterinary students. Ryane Englar, Cornell Class of 2008, wrote these words. Dr. Richards was one of my favorite professors here at the veterinary school. He and I worked head to head with the Pet Loss organization for many years, and it was through working with him that I came to discover our joint love of the feline kingdom. I want you to know that not a single day goes by that I don't think of Dr. Richards. I will work hard to honor his memory.... and will devote my life to treating felids large and small.
A gifted writer and communicator, Jim became the go to guy and media spokesperson for the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). He served on the Executive Board for many years, and was President in 2004. He was the key or point person to organize, draft, and publish a number of AAFP guidelines and reports, including Vaccine Guidelines (1998; 2000; 2006), Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management (2001; 2005), and the Feline Sarcoma Task Force Report (2005).
Someone once said that the little dash sandwiched between ones birth and death represents the sum total of a person's life his or her legacy. For Jim (1948-2007), that little dash is one huge legacy. A legacy to his family, to his church family, to his friends and colleagues, to AAFP, and to the whole feline world. JimBob, your legacy is a shining light to show the way for those who follow in your footsteps.
Fred W. Scott
Cornell Feline Health Center