Obituary: Art Kennel

Arthur J. Kennel, M.D., 85, died peacefully at Charter House on December 12, 2014, after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was born to John E. Kennel and Anna Mary (Summers) Kennel on April 26, 1929, in rural Gap, PA. Arthur is survived by his wife Lois and sisters Naomi (Sol) Yoder of Amsterdam, and Leah Magal of Portland, ME. Also surviving is his daughter Susan Harrison of Toronto, Ontario, and son Kurt (Betty) Kennel of Rochester; five grandchildren: Andrew and Leila Harrison and Simon, Naomi, and Caleb Kennel. Preceding him in death were his brother, Calvin, and sisters Edith Graybill, Alta Stoltzfus, Erma Kauffman, Ruth Glick, Gertrude Yoder, Ann Mast, and Salinda Smucker.

Lois Kennel, Niki Kulklenski and Art Kennel at Hinterland's final Walkabout.  Photo by Kay Patterson.
Lois Kennel, Niki Kulklenski and Art Kennel at Hinterland’s final Walkabout. Photo by Kay Patterson.

Arthur (Art) graduated from Lancaster Mennonite High School in 1947. Although born into a long line of carpenters and skilled in the trade, he embarked on other employment adventures as well. In 1946 he contributed to alleviating post-war conditions in Europe by going to Poland as a sea-going cowboy. Again in 1951 he sailed with a shipload of heifers to Israel. In the summer of 1953 he drove with two friends from Pennsylvania to Alaska for work and adventure.

Art did undergraduate studies at Penn State and graduated from Eastern Mennonite College where he met Lois. He completed his M.D. at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia in 1957. From 1958 to 1963 Art practiced general medicine in Jefferson, NC and Stuart, VA.  In 1960 he and his brother-in-law, Dr. Ivan Magal, established Stuart Clinic. From there he moved on to do Internal Medicine training at Mayo Clinic and a Fellowship in Cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania (1969).

After the births of his two children Art responded to a classified ad by the Medical Assistance Programs International which resulted in moving his family to Kinshasa, Zaire, from 1970-1972 where he became Chair of the Cardiology Department at the 1500-bed Hopital Mama Yemo (now Kinshasa General Hospital). Upon his return to the US he earned a Master of Science from University of Minnesota (1973). Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease he became a Mayo Clinic Consultant, Assistant Professor at Mayo Medical School and a Section Head of the Division of Community Medicine. He was a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, American College of Chest Physicians, Sigma Xi National Research Society, and President of the Mennonite Medical Association and Rotary Club of Rochester. Arthur retired from the Mayo Clinic in 1995.

Arthur had many hobbies: travel, fishing, animals, gardening, photography, music, reading. The project that would enthrall him throughout his retirement began in 1981 when he began breeding and showing llamas. Kennelllamas, in partnership with Lois, was his passion for 30 years.

Art’s interest in scientific research provided opportunities for him to contribute to the llama industry by way of presentations at the University of Cajamarca in Peru, the University of Gottingen in Germany as well as with “People to People” in Australia and New Zealand. A two-term trustee of the Morris Animal Foundation, he reviewed grant proposals and the research agenda on camelids. In 2013 he was honored by the International Lama Registry for his impact on the llama industry.

Art was a man of faith and a leader in the Rochester Mennonite Church as long as he was able. In 2011 he completed his memoirs, Life, Love, Llamas and Laughs: My Story. (Masthof publisher).

The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation to the staff and volunteers of Mayo Hospice and Charter House for their loving care of Arthur. He has donated his body to Mayo Foundation for medical research.

There was a celebration of Arthur’s life at Charter House on December 23. An additional celebration will be held in Lancaster County in April, 2015.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to Medical Assistance Programs International, 4700 Glynco Parkway, Brunswick, GA 31525; Heifer Project International, 1 World Ave, Little Rock, AR 72202; Mayo Hospice, 200 1st St SW, Rochester, MN 55905; or International Llama Foundation, Box 8, Kalispell, MT 59903.

Submitted by Lois Kennel