Dr. Jerry Kaneko, a longtime Davis resident who bridged town and gown as a City Council member and noted veterinary professor, died Jan. 18, several days after a hemorrhagic stroke, his family said. He was 88.
Dr. Kaneko spent six decades in Davis as a student, professor, community activist and elected official. He earned a chemistry degree from UC Davis in 1952 and graduated in the fifth class of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1956. Following a distinguished academic career, he devoted himself to public service and was on the City Council from 1994 to 1998.
"Jerry had an incredible amount of energy," said state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. "The older he got, the more he did. He gave a great deal to Davis."
Dr. Kaneko also earned a doctorate in comparative biochemistry and lectured at UC Davis before joining the faculty in 1959. He taught for 35 years, held administrative positions in the veterinary school and received the university's most prestigious honor, the Alumni Achievement Award, in 1995.
A leader in international veterinary research, he co-authored a 1963 book on biochemistry of domestic animals that is now in its sixth edition and recognized as the standard reference work in the field. He was active in scientific groups and received many academic awards.
Dr. Kaneko got involved in civic issues after retiring from UC Davis. He served on the Planning Commission before joining the City Council, where he supported the controversial Davis Commons project and Wildhorse development. He attributed his re-election defeat to those votes in anti-growth Davis.
"The university was growing tremendously in those years, and the city tried to respond so that we could keep students and faculty housed in the city," said Wolk, a former Davis mayor. "Jerry understood the connections between the university and city very well."
A son of Japanese immigrants, Jiro Jerry Kaneko was born Nov. 20, 1924, to farmers in French Camp. After being interned with his family in Arizona, he served in the Army in occupied Japan at the end of World War II.
He was married since 1991 to the former Teresa Bynum. He had four children during a previous marriage to Frances Yoshie Tokunaga, who died in 1974. He was predeceased by an infant daughter, Mariko.
Dr. Kaneko was active in human relations activities and belonged to many civic groups. He served on the board of Davis Community Meals and Shelter and belonged to Davis Sunrise Rotary Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau and Yolo County Land Trust. He represented Yolo County on the Area 4 Agency on Aging advisory board and was a former president of the Davis Democratic Club.
Since the 1990s, he grew alfalfa on a small farm in south Davis. "His original idea was to raise cattle and horses, but he'd have to be there all the time," his wife said. "He was too busy for that."