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James "Jim" Kunkel '77 March 23, 2021 2:09 PM updated: March 23, 2021 2:17 PM

Dr. Jim Kunkel
December 22, 1953 - October 26, 2020

James Mark (Doc) Kunkel was born in Stillwater, OK on December 22, 1953 to Muriel and Merlin Kunkel. Jim went to his heavenly home on Monday, October 26, 2020 where he is reunited with his loving parents and sister, Jane.

Jim was born while his father was attending veterinary school at Oklahoma State University. Most of Jim’s early school years were spent in Manning, IA where his dad practiced veterinary medicine on rural farms and small animal medicine out of the basement of the family home. Naturally, having been brought up around animals of all kinds, Jim knew from a very young age that veterinary medicine would be his calling. In 1968, Jim’s family moved to Texarkana where he finished high school graduating from Texas High School in 1972. Jim received his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science from Texas A & M University in College Station and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Oklahoma State University. After graduating from vet school, Jim practiced in Kentucky and Missouri before returning to Texarkana to work with his dad in his veterinary practice. Eventually, Jim purchased his own veterinary clinic in Atlanta, Tx where he practiced for the last 23 years. Jim was known in the four states area as one of the few exotic animal vets. He treated a wide range of animals from turtles and hawks to snakes, iguanas and emus. These experiences, of course, brought the family many years of Jim’s adventurous and animated story telling skills.

Jim lived a strong, Christian faith which was evident in the way he treated others, and the way he loved all animals of every size and species. He was the definition of a good soul with a servant’s heart. He was happiest when he was surrounded by friends and family while hunting, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors in any capacity. While driving on country calls, Jim would serenade his helpers with any Rock N Roll tune that was playing since he knew the lyrics to all of them. He also loved to cut a rug dancing at Auntie Skinner’s. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America, served as a counselor at Camp Pioneer, and was a member of the Order of the Arrow. He was a member of First Lutheran Church in Texarkana where he served his congregation as president and as an elder for many years. He was also a member of the NRA, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. He felt strongly about preserving wild spaces.

Jim leaves behind literally thousands of pets that depended on him for their health. He also leaves behind many friends and family members. Although most people called him Doc, to his nieces and nephews he was “Uncle Kunkel” and to grandkids he was “Pappadoc”.

After years of being a confirmed bachelor, Jim became reacquainted with a high school friend at their 40th class reunion. Sparks flew for the bachelor. After several years of dating, Jim proposed to his soulmate, Jan, at Auntie Skinners in Jefferson, Texas. Of course, in typical Jim fashion he proposed to her on stage while singing the Eagles, “Desperado”.

Left here to cherish his memory until reunited in heaven are: his wife, Jan Rogers Kunkel, his sisters: Dr. Jean (Allan)Thomas '82 of Lewiston, ID; Julie (Mark) Patterson of Texarkana, and Bev (Don Schrader) of Cheyenne, WY; his nieces: Emily (Ben) Ayers of Asheville, NC and Hannah Patterson of Texarkana; Uncle Roland Kunkel of Lakeland, FL; nephews: Graeme Thomas of Austin, TX, Gabriel Thomas of Eugene, OR, and Eli Thomas of Lewiston, ID; and Conner Patterson of Texarkana; great-nephews: Will and Drew Ayers; Jan’s children: Stephanie Collins and her children-Trent and Ashley Hancock of Tucson, AZ; Jan’s son, Eric Collins and his son Cooper Collins of Scottsdale, AZ; brother and sister-in-law: Johnny and Jeanette Rogers of Texarkana and a special cousin Gaylen Oppel of Watonga, OK.

The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and comfort shown through calls, texts, and food. A Memorial service will be announced at a later date.

The family requests any memorials be made to First Lutheran Church @ 4600 Texas Boulevard, Texarkana, Texas 75503 or the Animal Rescue of your choice.

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