Dr. Keith Cornforth, DVM passed away quietly and with grace and dignity on July 30, 2020.
Dr. Cornforth, 88, retired Veterinarian came to the Carson Valley when he purchased the Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital in 1957. Before bringing on partners, Dr. Steve Talbot and Dr. Robert Gorrindo several years later and, together, growing the practice to what it is today, Dr. Cornforth was the only Veterinarian in the greater Carson Valley caring for the health of cattle and sheep, horses, goats and pigs, dogs and cats and the occasional skunk, llama,
snake, bear or mountain lion. His clients included the prominent ranching and dairy families of the time among many others.
“Keith’s contributions to the Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital had a lasting impact on all of us,” said Dr. Steve Talbot. “He was dedicated to always providing what was right for the client and animal.” “Most of all, he attracted the best people to the practice because he was a man of goodness and moral strength who generated the admiration, respect and love of all who worked with him,” added Dr. Robert Gorrindo.
His sense of humor and dry wit will be remembered along with his kindness, compassion, judgment and fairness. He was a man of few words but, they were always well chosen. He believed that character was made and respect earned and that money did not make the man.
He served his community well and in a number of ways over the 63 years he lived in the Carson Valley. He was honored to be recognized as one of the 150 most influential Douglas County residents in 2011.
Keith was a founding member of the Carson Valley Mosquito Abatement Board in 1967, which helped significantly reduce mosquito-borne illness among animals and humans. He was also President of the local chapter of Rotary and was a recognized Paul Harris Fellow. But, he was proudest of the impact he made as President and member of the Douglas County School Board for eight years including construction of the High School now located on Highway 88.
In addition, Keith was an early member of the Lions Club, Gardnerville Gun Club and the Carson Valley Nut Club and was an avid golfer and member at both the Carson Valley Golf Course as well as Genoa Lakes. He also served as the local meat inspector, coached Little League Baseball and was a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. He enjoyed the 49ers, his vegetable garden, reading, hunting and cowboy poetry and had a voracious appetite for
homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Keith Cornforth III was born on September 29, 1931 in Denver, Colorado to Elizabeth Drier and
Keith Cornforth, Jr. He lost his father when he was 4 years old which had a profound impact on his worldview and his desire to help others. His early years were spent on Marion Street in Denver where he lived with his mother, two sisters, Nancy and Susan, and his grandmother and grandfather. His mother who worked for the Denver Post and uncles Jack Drier, a University Professor, and Colonel Charles Drier of the US Air Force inspired him to do great things and the folks at La Foret and Skyland Camp for Boys and Girls as well as the First
Congregational Church instilled a sense of curiosity and exploration that lasted throughout his lifetime.
Keith’s work ethic was established at an early age. As a teenager, he bucked bales in the summer on a ranch high in the Rockies. When he was a bit older, he earned money for college laboring in a Denver flour mill. He was never afraid of hard work and instilled that same thinking in others giving opportunity to those who valued it with a helping hand and a vote of confidence.
After finishing East Denver High School, he studied geology at Colorado College before transferring to Colorado A&M to pursue a degree in Veterinary medicine. Upon graduation, he served as a lieutenant in the United States Air Force in Oxnard, California. It was there that he met the love of his life, Martha Estridge, from Ansonville, North Carolina who was based nearby while flying for United Airlines on the Los Angeles to Hawaii route.
Dr. Cornforth had been honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1957 when he heard of an
opportunity to buy Dr. Jack Pitcher’s veterinary hospital in Minden, Nevada. The area was
reminiscent of his childhood Colorado and he jumped at the chance to establish his own practice. At the young age of 27, he came with his new bride, Martha, to begin a career that spanned decades. The couple had three daughters and enjoyed time spent as a family as well as world travel. But, no matter how far he roamed, Keith was always glad to be back home in the Carson Valley where he never ceased to comment on how beautiful the mountains were.
In his later years, Keith’s routine shifted from veterinary work and community involvement to
enjoying his family and the surrounding nature at home. He loved the morning newspaper especially the comic strip, Pickles, in the Reno Gazette and keeping up with local happenings in the Record Courier. He worked his crossword puzzles over lunch and watched Westerns on television in the afternoon and, of course, the nightly news followed by Jeopardy. He was a lifelong learner and avid reader. He believed it was important to understand all sides of an issue and as a result his coffee table was filled with books and magazines representing a
variety of interests from politics to pop culture, golf to equine medicine.
But, nothing made Keith happier than a visit from one of his daughters. His blue eyes would brighten the minute one of them walked in the door and he’d spend the next few days enjoying their company, playing cards and sharing his cooking tips. When asked which daughter was his favorite, he was quick to quip, “the one I’m with.”
He loved Martha with all his heart and there wasn’t a night that went by that he didn’t tuck into bed holding her hand and saying, “I love you” as he drifted off to sleep. Theirs was a fairytale love story worth repeating.
Keith’s sense of family extended to others as well - from the Danish Rotary exchange student, Annette Stougaard, who lived with the Cornforth’s in 1974 to his trusted and devoted caregiver, Claudia Trujillo and her son, Anthony, to friends and colleagues too numerous to mention. Keith’s relationships ran deep and true. His circle of friends and family could always count on him to be there with an open ear, a warm heart and a shoulder to lean on. And,
everyone was met with a generosity of spirit beyond compare.
Keith Cornforth’s legacy will live on in the unconditional love he showed his family and friends, his enduring work ethic and the exemplary values and character he displayed in his everyday
interactions. He was appreciated for his intellect, his steady, even-keeled personality and his sage advice – always delivered with a dose of humor.
Keith was a wonderful husband, devoted father and extraordinary man. He will be greatly missed by all who were blessed to know him.
He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 63 years, Martha Cornforth, three adoring daughters, Elizabeth Treacy (Lorry Lichtenstein) of Chicago, Illinois, Jennifer Berry (Michael Berry) of Evergreen, Colorado, Nancy Steel (Liston Steel), of Long Beach, California, two grandchildren, Annika Berry and Tate Berry, of Sun Valley, Idaho, his sister Susan Thran
and his nephews, Ted Thran and Michael Thran of Gardnerville, Nevada as well as his niece, SueEllen Campbell (John Calderazzo), of Bellvue, Colorado and nephew, Bruce Campbell of Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Keith’s name to Smile Train or the Salvation Army, two of his favorite charities.
Plans for a memorial service are pending and will be announced. In the meantime, the family would appreciate any stories or remembrances you would like to share. They can be mailed to The Cornforth’s at PO Box 96, Minden, Nevada 89423 or posted online at www.keithcornforth.com