COLUMBIA— James Redhage loved his parents' Irish Setter, Red. When Red got sick, Redhage brought him to MU for veterinary care once a month for two years.
Redhage died in 2008 at age 69, but he left a legacy in the form of a $3.4 million endowment to the MU College of Veterinary Medicine in honor of Red and his dogs Pepper and Pepper II.
Chancellor Brady Deaton announced the endowment Friday morning at Reynolds Alumni Center, a lit Christmas tree to his right. “It’s quite a bittersweet day,” Deaton told the gathering, going on to describe Redhage’s relationship with the university and how the gift will benefit the College of Veterinary Medicine.
A lifelong resident of Pike County, in northeast Missouri, Redhage had no formal affiliation with MU. He was employed by Abel Oil Co. for 45 years, and became its president in 1986.
In 1989, Redhage established the Herbert G. and Velma G. Redhage Memorial Scholarship Fund at MU in response to the excellent care given to Red, whom he called his best friend. In 2008, he amended the fund to be specifically distributed to the College of Veterinary Medicine Residency Fund. The estate endowment will go into that fund.
Redhage’s gift will support the annual salaries of three senior residents along with a $1,000 stipend for continuing education.
Three current senior residents, Dylan Buss, Kerry Rissetto and Meredith Thoen, received the funds that will support their annual salaries . They were given white lab coats labeled "Redhage Resident".
“The faculty voted on us, and I believe they were looking for residents that they felt were really proponents of the human-animal bond,” Thoen said after the ceremony. Redhage specified preference be given to residents who show strong skills in relating to patients and their owners.
Veterinary residents are veterinarians who seek further specialization in specific fields such as radiology and neurology.
“Mine is emergency and critical care, so I take care of the animals that very acutely become ill or have something really wrong with them and need a lot of intensive care and monitoring,” Thoen said.
She also specializes in dogs and cats, adhering to Redhage’s specification that preference be given to residents with proficiency in canine medicine.
Thoen said that if she could speak to Redhage now she would thank him for being such a great pet owner. "We love to have clients like him who love their dogs and cats,” she said.
“He was a passionate man," said Randy Anderson, chief financial officer of Abel Oil Co. "He was passionate about his dogs. He was passionate about animals. ... Jim put his money where his heart was.”