2000 Pioneer Leadership Award

Father Raymond W. Kunkel

Rev. Raymond W. Kunkel was born July 4, 1934 in Verona, the son of Albert Adrain and Juliana Odelehr Kunkel. He received a bachelor of arts in philosophy in 1956 from Conception Seminary in Conception and was ordained into the priesthood on April 1, 1960 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Verona.

Father Kunkel arrived in Cape Girardeau in 1962 as a young Catholic priest and he attended the Southeast Missouri District Fair to help the Joe and Mildred Kirchdoerfer family show their Jersey cattle. He became lifetime friends with the Kirchdoerfers who own a registered Jersey herd near Cape Girardeau.

Jersey cattle became one of his loves and he owned several in partnership with the Kirchdoerfers. The partnership showed Jerseys at the SEMO Fair from 1962 to 1998. Even during his five-year battle with colon cancer, Father Kunkel always made it to the SEMO Fair.

Also, starting in 1973 he and Joe showed Jerseys at the Mid-South Fair in Memphis, Tenn., where Father Kunkel led several champion animals through the show ring at that regional Jersey show.

Each year the highlight of the fair season was the Missouri State Fair where he and Joe showed their cattle for many years starting in 1967.

Father Kunkel was a member of the Missouri Jersey Cattle Club and American Jersey Cattle Association. He served several years as secretary-treasurer of the Missouri Club and was a contributor to the junior Jersey activities at the All-American Jersey Show at Louisville, Ky.

During his priesthood he had assignments in Joplin, Cape Girardeau, Piedmont, Williamsville, West Plains, Thayer, Benton, Chaffee, Glennonville, Malden, and Charleston.

He was assigned to the St. Mary Parish in Joplin until three weeks before his death when he returned to the Kirchdoerfer farm to spend his last days on the farm and with his Jersey cattle.

Father Kunkel died at the St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau July 17, 1999. He is survived by two brothers and a sister, J.B. Kunkel, Delaware, Okla.; Ed Kunkel, Springfield; and Delores Wood, Bixby, Okla.