Following his military service, Robert attended Iowa State College's veterinary medicine program (now Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine) earning his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 1954 and began his 63-year career as a veterinarian beginning with small/large animals and, finally, specializing in poultry where he made his greatest contributions. Following a few years in private practice in the Pacific Northwest, Robert began his work in the poultry industry in Northwest Arkansas starting in the mid-1960s. He joined Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Poultry Science Program in 1981; one of Robert's research focuses and a developed passion was increasing productivity within poultry hatcheries world-wide. He developed a computer program allowing hatcheries to pinpoint areas of productivity shortcomings and to increase successful hatching rates to approach 100%. Robert was inducted into the Mississippi Poultry Hall of Fame in 2013 and the US Department of Agriculture's Poultry Hall of Fame in 2014. Although, Robert retired from MSU in or near 1999, he continued to be an active consultant and contributor to the poultry industry until just months before his passing.
Robert is survived by his wife Jane, daughters Marion Dahlgren of Pierce, CO; Susan Meyer of Murrells Inlet, SC; and Kim Heath of West Memphis, AR; sons Robert O. Keirs of Silver Valley Alberta Canada and Dan Smith of Memphis, TN. Robert was blessed with 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren; additionally he had a special relationship with his daughter-in-law Chris Smith of Memphis, TN and Je'ohnte Allen of Starkville, MS. He is preceded in death by his parents, his mother-in-law Mary Bennett and his stepson Jay.
Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, November 25, 2015 from 1:00-3:00 at Welch Funeral Home in Starkville, MS.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Mississippi State University's College of Veterinarian Medicine in Starkville, MS.
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