PULLMAN, Wash. — Retired Aberdeen veterinarian Kenneth G. Davis has received the Alumni Achievement Award from Washington State University. He was cited for “a distinguished career in veterinary medicine and as a lifetime model of self-help in disability management.”
Davis earned his D.V.M. degree at WSU in 1944, then established a small animal hospital and general practice in Hoquiam. Later he built a small animal hospital–Davis Animal Clinic–in Aberdeen.
Davis’ story is one of perseverance. At a young age, it was discovered he had spina bifida. Prior to starting elementary school, he had surgery to fuse each ankle allowing him to walk in a more able manner. In addition, several unsuccessful attempts were made to surgically correct part of the congenital spinal disorder.
Following high school, he worked as a fuel truck driver and eventually completed an associate arts degree at Grays Harbor College. He applied for admission to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine and was accepted. To help support his education, he worked in the kitchen of the old Washington Hotel in downtown Pullman and drove a taxicab part-time. Because of his limited physical ability, he was severely restricted in the work he could accept.
Though classified as disabled, he shared the workload in the WSU Veterinary Clinic and asked no special treatment or assistance.
Tacoma veterinarian Dr. Bernard Pinckney (’43 D.V.M.), Davis’ friend since college, says “I can’t recall him complaining about his major disability, and he did not have a disabled license on his car until I insisted that he apply (in 1993). He never viewed himself as disabled to the degree that he needed special treatment for special parking.”
Pinckney adds that Davis managed to be a productive member of society and the community well beyond the retirement age of 65. He even ran for the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and narrowly lost by a split vote.