Robert Hutson Kokernot
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Kokernot Robert Hutson Kokernot, age 94, died June 12, 2016. Robert had been a resident of Columbus, Ohio since September, 2006, after moving from Texas, to be near his family. Robert was born in the West Texas town of Alpine in Brewster County on August to 14, 1921 to Robert Lusk Kokernot and Lucy Moss Kokernot. His father, Robert Lusk Kokernot was born in Gonzales, Texas, and his mother Lucy Grinnell Moss was born in Marathon, Texas. Robert's family had been cattle ranchers in the Alpine area since 1883. His great great grandfather, David Levi Kokernot, served as a Lieutenant in the Texas Revolution. As a direct descendant from two ancestors who resided in the Republic of Texas before 1846, Robert was proud to be a Life Member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas. Robert is survived by his four children, Jan Stephanie Kokernot and her children, Blake, Derek and Brooke, daughter, Peggy Kokernot Kaplan and her husband, Rick from Columbus, Ohio, son, Walter Hutson Kokernot and his children, Laura and Juliette from Columbus, Ohio, and daughter, Diana Kokernot Britton and her husband, Chuck from Germantown, Tennessee and her children, Stephanie and Peter. His beloved wife, Marlene, died in 2011, a month shy of their fortieth anniversary. Robert attended Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas, graduating with a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1946. His study there was interrupted for military service as a combat medic with the 37th Infantry division in the Southwest Pacific and the Philippines, during which time he was awarded the bronze star. He then attended Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, Texas graduating with a Doctor of Medicine. Following an Internship at Brooke Army Hospital he attended Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland and earned his Masters of Public Health degree in 1952. He returned to Hopkins in 1960 and completed a Doctor of Public Health degree in the field of Epidemiology in 1961. After completing the MPH program at Hopkins in 1952, Robert spent one year as a Public Health officer - State of California, Department of Public Health; Bureau of Acute Communicable Diseases. Following this he was a staff member of the Rockefeller Foundation for ten years during which time he and his family resided in South Africa and Colombia, South America. In each location he was assigned to do field and laboratory studies on arthropod-borne virus disease. Subsequently, Robert was a faculty member at the University of Illinois; then the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston; and finally at the Texas Tech University School of Medicine. Robert's scientific publications were in the field of Tropical Medicine. He also made presentations at five sessions of the International Congresses on Tropical Medicine and Malaria which were held every five years. Over the span of 25 years, he attended the Congresses held in Tehran, Iran; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Manilla, Philippines; Athens, Greece; and Lisbon, Portugal. Robert held Specialty Board Certification in the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Family Practice, Honors which were bestowed on him included: Jesse and Mary Gibbs Jones Scholar, Research in Cardiac Physiology-Baylor University College of Medicine, 1947-1950; Alpha Omega Alpha (Honor Medical Society), Baylor University College of Medicine, 1949; The Society of Phi Zeta, Illinois, Honorary Veterinary Society, 1965; and Distinguished Alumni, Grossmont High School, San Diego, California 1967. He belonged to a number of Scientific and Professional Societies such as the American Society of Tropical Medicine; the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine; and the International College of Tropical Medicine. His extramural Professional functions included: Communicable Disease Study Section of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, 1967-1969; and National Academy of Sciences Committee on Veterinary Medical Education and Research, 1968-1970. Robert retired in 1990 and filled his leisure time with the same passionate energy he devoted to his career by satisfying his endless curiosity on just about everything via good natured (if at times) hard hitting argument and reading extensively on a vast array of subjects especially enjoying the works of Thomas L. Friedman. He also researched and wrote a 5 volume history of his family spanning 6 generations, an autobiography, and most recently a 5 volume compilation of love letters he wrote his first wife, Edith Babcock Grinnell, during and after WWII from 1943 to 1946. Both sets have been donated to the Cushing Library at Texas A & M University. His career was remarkable. But it was as a man, as a father, that he was even more remarkable, and there resides his greatest achievement. He taught his children to love being curious, to take life on with the vigor and joyful exuberance and playfulness, to endure vicissitudes, to admit and overcome personal failure and seek forgiveness, to argue hard on serious issues but concede defeat with good humor, to care for the small and weak and defenseless (including animals), and, most importantly to have the courage to say, "I don't know" and "I might be wrong." He died a very rich man; that is, he knew well that his children loved and adored him. He had no last words at the moment of his demise. Instead, just minutes before, he was humming the melody to his favorite song, "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning." Robert will be buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Gonzales, Texas on the 86th anniversary of his beloved father's death July 22, 1930. Arrangements are being made by Seydler-Hill Funeral Home, Gonzales, Texas. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Mercy for Animals, in honor of the man he most admired and was inspired by; Theologian, Humanitarian, Medical Doctor, Musician and Philosopher, Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

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Published in The Columbus Dispatch from Jun. 16 to Jun. 18, 2016.
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16 entries
February 17, 2017
I met bob in 1970 when I was a Captain in the US Air Force and applying for admission to the PhD program at UTSPH. I had not heard anything from the school regarding my application for admission, so I traveled Houston and went to the school. I was told they had no record of my application, transcripts, GRE scores or letters of recommendation. Dean Stallones apologized for the SNAFU and sent me to Bob who greeted me with a loud What are you interested in, Boy? I loudly answered back Microbiology!. He then asked me to tell him about any bacteria of my choice. I did not know Bob's academic history, and it was just luck that I chose Leptospira interogans, which is both an animal and human pathogen. He let me talk for about ten minutes, then interrupted me. Damn son, slowdown, you are admitted. That story would never happen at UTSPH today.

Bob was a major influence in my education as a microbiologist both as a teacher and an example of a great scientist. Bob was at the same time wild, crazy, manic, irritating, loving, opinionated, kind and giving, and without doubt the most complex and brilliant man I have ever worked with. He was a unique polymath. Requiescatinpace.

John F. James, Ph.D., MPH, D(ABMM)
Happily Retired Clinical Microbiologist
Centennial, Colorado

Bob's name for me was Louis Pasteur
John F. James
July 5, 2016
Although I meet Robert only once while in Houston with my father, Fred David Kokernot Jr., I was proud to have a cousin of Robert's distintion. A cousin who had contributed greatly to society and cobtributed to the pride of the Kokernot name and family.

My daughter Sarah K.E. Kokernot is married to Dr. Juan Martinez. They chose Martinez-Kokernot as the last name of their now 15 month old son, in preference to putting his father's name last.

My deepest sympathy to his family.

Joy Kokernot
(Cousin & great grandaughter of David Levi Kokernot; daughter of Frederick David Kokernot Jr., and grandaughter of Frederick David Kokernot Sr.)
Joy Kokernot
June 20, 2016
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Internship at Brooke Army Hosptial
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SW.Pacific and the Philippines
June 20, 2016
God Bless/RIP. A heartfelt Thank YOU for your service in WWII.The USA would NOT be as it is today. I treasure the freedoms for which YOU fought, Robert.. And Semper Fi.
Herb Guyer-Sharfenaker USMC
June 19, 2016
Diana Kokernot
June 18, 2016
Our dad shared so much. But he and I became particularly close during the final two decades of his life. He set an example for his children/grandchildren by definitely 'living the dash' (1921 - 2016).

This Hopi prayer comes to mind when I think of him. I do not want to say goodbye, just that I feel him and his spirit within and all around me....


Don't stand by my grave and weep,
For I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint of snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning, hush.
For I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circle flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die.

Hopi Grief Prayer
Diana Kokernot
June 18, 2016
Many (many) years ago, Bob brought some viruses to CDC for me to identify. He spent an evening at our home and that was that -- the beginning of a long friendship. We published papers together regarding the discovery of viruses and stayed in touch. I spoke with him some months ago and hoped to see him at least one more time. I am greatly saddened by the death of this great and unique man.
Charlie Calisher
June 17, 2016
Treasure special times spent together and draw strength from the love of family and friends. May God's loving-kindness comfort you and help you through this difficult time. Sincere sympathies - Ps 119:50,76
June 17, 2016
A family reunited
Dad would have liked me to thank Dr. Tom Sweeney, Loretta and Lynn, Dr. Randall Slaybaugh, Dr Adam Hessel and Joy, Dr. Erick Arce and Elaine, Dr. Thompson and Theresa, Dr. Kenney Grewall and Corine. You gave him the best medical care as well as friendship. Many thanks for friendship also go out to Vicki, Skip and Ron, Steve and Bev Bromet and Ruth. The wonderful Bautista sisters and mother, Erica, Anna, Natalia and Paz,you were always there for dad! He truly loved each of you for your patience, your gentleness and your compassion . I also want to thank Fran Martinez my friend for 18 years. Without you I would not have been able to spend the most precious time in the world with my dad. Finally and most important,my love also goes out to my husband, Rick. It's because of your words, your kindness and clear thought that kept me on a good path as I navigated the final years of dad's life. To my sisters and brother, Jan, Diana and Walter, this was a journey we never wanted to take but we supported each other along the way. Dad left this world knowing he was deeply loved .
Peggy Kokernot Kaplan
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