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A Tribute to FVMA Executive Director | Philip J. Hinkle

WE REMEMBER A TIRELESS CHAMPION OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

FVMA Executive Director Philip J. Hinkle |1961-2020

Phil was a tireless champion of Florida’s veterinary medical community, and his passion served as an inspiration to everyone here at the FVMA. It is impossible to put into words how greatly he will be missed.

Over the course of his 34 years with the FVMA, Phil was known as a leader, mentor and friend. He will forever be remembered as an advocate for the thousands of veterinarians, technicians, practice managers and veterinary assistants in our state.

With the loss of Phil Hinkle, I was forced to consider the magnitude of its impact on those of us left behind—and, more specifically, on myself. Having known Phil for more than 15 years. Having been a part of his family for so long, his children are like my own grandchildren.

As a mentor, Phil taught me the art of negotiations. Whether it was that last 5% discount at a hotel, another $1,500 in sponsorship from an industry partner or innovative compensation that exceeded the norm to the benefit of the FVMA.

Phil’s achievements at the political level in Tallahassee are legendary. He was responsible for the many protections we in the veterinary field now enjoy—I’m sure his future plans included many more. It was Phil who taught me how to be a warrior for change!

As a friend, Phil was always there. In good times or bad, he met each challenge with 120% of himself to make it right. Whether I was buying a house, car or suffering medically, he was always there.

One cannot remember Phil without a comment about his unique, one-of-a-kind story telling—he was a master! I remember laughing until I cried no matter how often I heard the same story. He had so many, and should have had so many more

Phil will always be remembered most as a man of faith and a man who loved his family and his work at the FVMA. Rest in peace my friend.

Philip Hinkle will be missed by many. I feel most fortunate to have known him for a number of years in relation to the printing that is done by FVMA. A number of employees at Baker Press were routinely involved with the FVMA’s projects. It was a perfect fit for both companies. Phil was always very involved on all levels with the jobs that came to us. It was his energy, creativity, persistence and ability to bring everyone together on the same page that helped it work time after time over the years. It was always exciting and rewarding to all those involved. It is an experience I will always cherish.

Phil was the best. He always had the right answer and a great delivery. I had great respect for him and was deeply saddened to hear of his passing.

I first met Phil when I was an alternate delegate to the AVMA almost two decades ago. From the beginning we connected, probably because we were both meticulous, perfectionists and bold—and because we both enjoyed working hard and playing hard. During my six years as AVMA’s District IV Director, our friendship grew immensely. Phil made me feel as if I was a lifelong member of the FVMA, and always treated me like family. Phil was an amazing human being that cared deeply for Florida veterinarians. He was a visionary leader who was admired by many in our profession, including veterinarians, UF faculty and students, industry, and AVMA volunteers, leadership and staff. As I have said before to the FVMA Board, Phil was, in my opinion, the best executive director in the nation. The profession has lost one of its greatest advocates—and I feel as if I have lost a brother.

My deepest condolences to Janet, Amber, Ashley, Michael and the entire Hinkle family—you all know that you will always have family in Puerto Rico. May Phil rest in peace,

Phil Hinkle worked tirelessly to advance the FVMA, its members and veterinary medicine. His enthusiasm and energy were unbelievable. Phil was always looking five-10 years down the road. He was fiercely protective of our profession. I think Phil put the FVMA ahead of everything else in the world except for his family.

Phil's family, especially his grandkids, was the light of his existence. Janet was his best friend, protector and soulmate.

Phil was my friend. I will miss him forever. I think of him every day.

Phil Hinkle will be sorely missed by the FVMA and AVMA. He was passionate about veterinarians and the veterinary profession. It was very personal to him, and he worked with relentless energy to promote and protect the profession. He looked out for his veterinarians.

Whenever an issue arose, at the state or federal level, Phil was available to discuss and help. When the AVMA wanted to work with the FVMA to have veterinarians in Florida meet or connect personally in the state with Florida’s members of congress to address a federal legislative issue, he always helped to make it a success. Even when he was battling cancer, he would lead the charge between treatments.

I fondly recall spending time with Phil and FVMA leadership in Tallahassee working hard to oppose a bill that would have allowed emotion-based damages in litigation against Florida’s veterinarians. We testified before a committee and spent the day meeting with legislators. Most of them knew Phil on sight, and their respect for the profession was obvious.

Moreover, Phil was my friend. Losing Phil has left a large void that will be hard to fill, for the profession, for his colleagues and his family, and for his many, many friends.

I was blessed to meet Phil 10 years ago as a representative for my district. Phil was the executive director of the FVMA at that time and he had been with the FVMA for almost 20 years. His passion for the profession was clear from the start. He was a large presence in the board room. Throughout the years, there were numerous issues that came up that the board had to manage. With Phil’s leadership as our executive director, we always felt that there was no issue in the state of Florida that was too big. It was often said he was the FVMA and we all knew it. During my tenure as FVMA president, I saw firsthand how the association grew, both as a presence in the state and financially as an association. The FVMA is now also able to offer many more continuing education events throughout Florida to support veterinarians and their staff.

On a personal basis, I miss his stories, especially those about his family. He was a true family man. He loved his family like no other. He was so proud of his children and the people they had become. He loved his grandbabies and would light up just thinking about them. He would go on and on to anyone that would listen. His wife, Janet, was always by his side. They were quite a team. Phil accomplished a lot in his tenure at the FVMA, but I guarantee he would not have been able to accomplish as much as he had without the love and support of his wife.

Quite frankly there will never be another person like Phil Hinkle. I miss him and I miss his mentorship and friendship. I miss his positive outlook on life. Sure, he had his rants, but at the end of the day he saw the best in people. He wanted the best for people—and if you were a veterinarian, veterinary student, or a member of the veterinary support team, you were his kind of person. He would do everything he could in his power to protect you, support you and improve the quality of your life.

See, we all lost a lot when we lost Phil. The FVMA lost a visionary, leader and a true champion of veterinary medicine. His family lost their dad, husband and papa. Veterinary medicine lost a pioneer for years to come. I can assure you the FVMA is better off for his leadership and the practices he had put in place for years to come. Whether you knew him or not, if you were a veterinarian, veterinary student, or support staff he changed your profession for the better. That is his legacy.

In March of 2017, I was blessed with the opportunity to work at the FVMA in the membership department. Through the years, I have been fortunate to be part of this amazing, growing organization. Under the remarkable leadership of our late Executive Director Philip Hinkle, I have learned a great deal about the industry, association and its operation. Phil was a courageous and renowned leader, who I am so pleased to have worked with. I have been encouraged and empowered under Phil’s leadership. Working here has given me drive not only at work, but also in my personal life. Phil was and always will be an inspiration and a role model to me, and I will continue to provide the world with his legacy of giving the BEST at the FVMA.

It was a pleasure and an honor to have met you and been part of your mission, Phil. I will forever and always miss you. I truly thank you for your guidance, wisdom, strength and drive. Rest in peace Phil, your legacy will continue.

FROM THE Hinkle Family

These last few months have been challenging times for our family. Our loss is great, and our grief feels, at times, unsurmountable. Yet, as we look back, we are reminded of the countless amazing memories we had with our beloved husband, father and papa, Philip James Hinkle. There are countless memories, but one that tops the list, after family and faith, is the Florida Veterinary Medical Association. Many people have stated Phil was the FVMA. Phil went to work for the FVMA at an entry level position in the early 1980s. He was an energetic, motivated and enthusiastic young man desiring to expand his career and become the best provider for his wife and then-growing family.

After a few years, Phil began to realize the possibilities available to the FVMA. Phil was a visionary and had innovative ideas to strengthen membership and make the FVMA more productive than ever. He was so passionate about animal advocacy. His excitement for life, dedication, work ethic, commitment, strong communication and negotiating skills, and his heart “for the right thing” advanced him within the organization. There was never a time he did not put his heart into his work. He loved the FVMA and the members he served—loving them with his huge heart and treating them like family. His aspirations for the FVMA flowed through to his wife and family. We were his fan club. Janet (his wife) saw his enthusiasm and dedication to the FVMA and knew how much it meant to him. She was his admiring advocate and sounding board as he worked long hours to fulfill his dreams, dreams... which somehow seemed to infect each of us with contagious enthusiasm and interest.

In 2007, Phil interviewed for the position of executive director. He was excited and nervous as potential candidates flew in from all over the country vying for the position. While he was nervous, we had faith he would do amazing. He was not only qualified, but the most passionate and charismatic candidate they would interview. We were ecstatic when he was chosen for the position. Along with meeting his precious wife and creating a beautiful family, accepting the executive director position was one of Phil’s proudest accomplishments.

While Phil was a visionary, he was also a man who knew how to achieve his goals and turn his vision into a reality. With a smile that could light up a room, conference time was his time to shine. As we would describe it, he was like a kid in a candy store. When Phil would walk into a room, it would come alive with laughter, knowledge and friendship. He did not see the FVMA as a job but rather as another passion in his life. Our family looked forward to conference time as much as he did. He loved sharing the love of his family with his coworkers, colleagues and anyone that he came across—anyone who would listen. Our entire family helped with the conferences and many meetings throughout the years. As our family grew, even the in-laws and rescue Pomeranians, Toby and Tyler, would attend. From helping with the registration desk to setting up the audio for lectures, we enjoyed being part of the FVMA family. We knew what our father expected and we were determined and enthusiastic to help make it happen.

When our family expanded and Phil became a “Papa," he was proud to introduce everyone to his grandchildren—Elijah James, Jeremiah, Hannah, JoJo, Ella and Austin. He paraded his grandbabies throughout the exhibit halls and brought them to dinners with his admiring wife by his side. While he was parading his family around showing everyone how proud he was of us all, we were so proud to be the family of such a loving, kind and hardworking man! Phil’s passion for the veterinary industry has and will always live within us. He had such a big heart and always expressed his love. We were always proud of how many people loved and respected him and valued his opinions. He was a mentor to many and a friend to even more.

During the following years, we observed Phil’s enthusiasm as he grew and expanded the FVMA to heights and success that many did not think was possible. Phil may have been the face of the FVMA, but Janet was also always in his corner, supporting every dream and courageous idea he shared. The FVMA was part of their daily routine.

but also his work family. Although he was still healing from surgery and needed to rest, he asked his wife to drive him to the office to see the staff he missed so much. Work was a second home to him—he had missed home. He was greeted with smiles and cheers, and it meant so much as he witnessed their love and support.

Unfortunately, our hearts were shattered when our dad, the best papa there ever was and our mom’s soulmate, passed away very unexpectedly. It has left an indescribable void in our family. We have enjoyed hearing all the stories of the impact Phil has had on the veterinary community and we could not be prouder of his accomplishments and the relationships he built. We feel so blessed to have been part of the FVMA and are thankful for all the amazing support we have received from each of you. The FVMA has been part of our family for over 34 years and we pray Phil’s legacy and passion will live on with the same success he dreamed of and envisioned. Any present and future success will honor his hard work and loyalty to the FVMA, an organization he so passionately believed in.

While Phil was having tremendous success at work and had a beautiful family life, he was also a warrior battling cancer. He was first diagnosed in 2014. He endured multiple surgeries, procedures, chemotherapy and treatments. Regardless of the amount of procedures, chemotherapy treatments, travel, quarantining, fatigue and side effects, Philip Hinkle never stopped. He always showed up to work. It did not matter what he was facing in his personal life, he was always devoted to the success of his career and veterinary medicine. God placed Phil in this profession to be a dedicated leader, an advocate, a warrior and a role model for whoever crossed his path. He never complained about how he felt. When asked his response was always the same: “I am a blessed man!” After several years of treatments that included many ups and downs, Phil was more determined than ever to beat cancer. With his wife by his side, they sought out specialized care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York. There he received innovative treatments and procedures. Thank you for being part of our lives and supporting Phil and Janet through all their endeavors. We appreciate all your love, support and prayers as we navigate our new normal— without our beloved husband, father and papa. May he always be a reminder of faith, family, love, dedication and passion for the veterinary community.

With his most recent surgery at MSKCC, we received amazing news. The oncologist and surgeon deemed him cancer free. He did it! Phil could not wait to get home to celebrate this huge victory with not only his family but also his work family. Although he was still healing from surgery and needed to rest, he asked his wife to drive him to the office to see the staff he missed so much. Work was a second home to him—he had missed home. He was greeted with smiles and cheers, and it meant so much as he witnessed their love and support.

Unfortunately, our hearts were shattered when our dad, the best papa there ever was and our mom’s soulmate, passed away very unexpectedly. It has left an indescribable void in our family. We have enjoyed hearing all the stories of the impact Phil has had on the veterinary community and we could not be prouder of his accomplishments and the relationships he built. We feel so blessed to have been part of the FVMA and are thankful for all the amazing support we have received from each of you. The FVMA has been part of our family for over 34 years and we pray Phil’s legacy and passion will live on with the same success he dreamed of and envisioned. Any present and future success will honor his hard work and loyalty to the FVMA, an organization he so passionately believed in.

Thank you for being part of our lives and supporting Phil and Janet through all their endeavors. We appreciate all your love, support and prayers as we navigate our new normal— without our beloved husband, father and papa. May he always be a reminder of faith, family, love, dedication and passion for the veterinary community.

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