Wendell Kopp

Meet the College of Veterinary Medicine's Oldest Living Alumni

Dr. Wendell Kopp is the college's oldest living alumni at 102 years young! A 1943 graduate of the college, Kopp attributes his longevity to “good genes.” At the age of 15, he already knew how to manage a four-horse hitch and run his family's dairy farm. “Growing up in the horse-and-buggy age in Iowa helped me build a great work ethic,” says Kopp. “You either worked or you didn't eat.” That work ethic helped him succeed in the U.S. Army where he spent 42 months after graduation, and then 27 years as a general practitioner - three years in Indiana and 24 years in Iowa. He and his wife, Geneva, moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 1973, where he helped establish the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and served on faculty at its Comparative Animal Research Laboratory. After retirement, he continued to stay active with woodworking. He continues a decades-long interest in the effect of sunshine on plant and animal life. Looking back over the past century, Kopp says the most rapid change he's seen is in communications. He recalls a 100-mile telephone call costing $4-5 for three minutes, and today's cell phones have unlimited calling packages. “I remember when the per pound price of hogs was 2 cents, and a bushel of corn was 10 cents.” Besides crediting a strong work ethic to his success in life, Kopp also credits marrying the perfect spouse. “We never had an argument during our 69 years of marriage.” Kopp is looking forward to celebrating his 103rd birthday on Aug. 1.