Harold “Doc” Cummings, 89, 60-year veterinarian

CHATHAM–Harold J. “Doc” Cummings, DVM, passed away at his home on Monday, November 9, 2009.

Dr. Cummings was born in Albany, September1, 1920, son of the late Arthur L. and Elsie Deckett Cummings. Growing up in the Alps, Rensselaer Co., he graduated from Averill Park High School. In 1945, “Doc” received his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. He joined the Army while in college, receiving an honorable discharge in June, 1944.

On June 26, 1943, Dr. Cummings was married to Rosa M. Peters at Spring Valley, Rockland County.

Dr. Cummings began his veterinary career in Millbrook, and in the late 1940s, opened his office in East Chatham. He practiced for over 60 years, treating large animals on farms in Columbia and Rensselaer counties, and family pets at his hospital in Chatham. Up until the time of his death, Dr. Cummings ran rabies clinics for the Columbia County Department of Health. He also worked as a regional veterinarian for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. One of his favorite duties was overseeing the livestock at local county fairs

Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Cummings continued to learn new skills and hobbies. He earned his private pilot’s license in the 1960s and was part owner of a single engine plane. For many years, he raised Dorset sheep and helped to establish the sheep and wool display at the Columbia County Fair. “Doc” was named NYS Shepherd of the Year in 1994. He mastered the art of making maple syrup, and shared that knowledge with the many friends who helped him. After learning the artistry of creating Shaker-style boxes, his latest pastime was whittling, a skill he honed at local community events and with his fellow carvers at the Mohawk Valley Art and Wood Carving Association in Amsterdam, Montgomery County.

Dr. Cummings was a lifetime member of the East Chatham Fire Company and the Columbia County Agricultural Society. He served many years as a board member of the former State Bank of Albany, and was a member and officer of the Chatham Exchange Club. “Doc” was a past-president of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia Co., and was a proud member of the Columbia Car Club. Professionally, he was a member of the Capital District Veterinary Society and the Alumni of Cornell University.

Along with his wife of 66 years, Rosa, Dr. Cummings is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Dianna Cummings of Greenfield, Ind., and his daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Art Hammell of Old Chatham. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Christa Cummings of Greenfield, Ind., Ryan Cummings and his wife, Monica, of South Bend, Ind., Courtney Cummings Eddy and her husband, Brian, of Greenfield,  Mark Hammell and his wife, Delynn, of Union City, Cal.,, and Carrie Hammell Torey and her husband, Adam, of Gainesville, Fla.; and one great-grandchild, Matthew Cummings of South Bend.

Family will receive friends Friday, November 13 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the French, Gifford, Preiter & Blasl funeral home, Chatham. Religious services will be offered at the funeral home on Saturday at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at the Chatham Rural Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Ghent Food Pantry, Ghent Town Hall, Ghent, NY 12075, or the Chatham Public Library, 11 Woodbridge Ave., Chatham, NY 12037.

For directions or to send an online condolence, visit www.frenchblasl.com.




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