Kenton Shawl Stokes, 64, a veterinarian and former chairman of the Westtown Township Board of Supervisors, died of an apparent heart attack April 23 at Wakefield Manor Farm in Westtown.
Dr. Stokes grew up on the farm, near his home and veterinary practice. Since his father's death in 2006, he was there every day, visiting his mother, Lucille, and caring for the horse and Angus cattle, said his wife, Carolyn Kramer Stokes.
His father, Milton, had also been a Westtown supervisor, and father and son served the township for more than 60 years combined. Stokes Assembly Hall in the township's administration building was named in their honor in 2002.
Dr. Stokes served on the Board of Supervisors for 13 years, including several terms as chairman. He also chaired the planning commission, served on the Environmental and Conservation Committee and the parks advisory group, and was a member of the zoning hearing board when he died. He had a sense of humor and the ability to break the tension in a meeting, said Elaine Adler, Westtown's director of planning and zoning.
He was dedicated to the welfare of the township and not to his own agenda, said Adler, who had known Dr. Stokes for more than 30 years.
In 1996, he supported the decision to hire a professionally trained township manager. The supervisors had to be willing to give up some responsibility, he told a reporter: "Times are changing. Our town needs to know how to borrow, how to spend."
He was outspoken and told another reporter in 1997: "We want a safe corridor on Route 202 through Westtown, and we're going to get it even if we have to ruffle a few feathers with the school district or the builders." He once called a developer's plan "just plain ugly."
Dr. Stokes graduated from West Chester High School, where he met his future wife. He earned a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He was later president of the veterinarian school's alumni association and was on the planning committee for his 40th reunion celebration.
During the Vietnam War, Dr. Stokes completed a tour of duty with the Army in Vietnam. After his discharge, he was a veterinarian at an animal hospital in Glenside for three years before establishing his practice in 1973.
He was passionate about his work and compassionate toward his patients and their owners, his wife said. He loved animals and farming, she said, and always told his family to "find joy in each day."
He enjoyed Civil War history, golf, Philadelphia sports teams, and Penn State football.
In addition to his wife of 41 years and his mother, Dr. Stokes is survived by daughters Ashlee Goodman and Aimee and two sisters.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 7 at West Chester United Methodist Church, 129 S. High St., where friends may call after 10.