On Thursday, October 5, Dr. Aimee Witherspoon of Clark County suffered an irrecoverable brain injury as a result of a fall from her horse, and she never regained consciousness. She passed away peacefully on Sunday, Oct. 8 with her four children by her side.
Though she was wearing a helmet, as was her constant practice, the nature of the impact caused an injury that was not preventable. Witherspoon was riding alone in a field at her home, but her fall was witnessed by neighbors and she received immediate assistance.
Witherspoon was well known in Clark County and the larger region for her veterinary acupuncture practice with both small and large animals. Her many clients share stories which sound much alike, of animals healed after hope had been lost. She was a passionate animal lover, and she dedicated her work life to making animal’s lives better and healthier.
She was also an avid and accomplished competitor in the equestrian sport of three day eventing. She was known among friends for her bravery, her passion, and for her wisdom and friendship. She was especially drawn to the eventing community by the friends she made there, and loved having a glass of wine and a weekend of fun together.
But along with the fun, Witherspoon was an avid competitor. She always wanted to be challenged, and she was described as tough and determined. Witherspoon rode in her first intermediate level competition, which features 3-feet, 9-inch jumps and second level dressage, at the age of 56.
Witherspoon was also described as a friend and a mentor to many. She was a voracious reader and collector of facts, and could offer her knowledge on almost any subject. She inspired many younger riders and role-modeled a positive and determined attitude. She was known to say, “If you set your mind to it you can do anything.”
Aimee was a hard worker, which her children learned meant “going to mom’s house meant she wanted us to work, too.” She loved the outdoors — hiking, camping, going to the coast and especially waterfalls. And she loved to help others, with her knowledge and her caring.
Witherspoon was born Aimee Willa Snyder on Jan. 21, 1954 in Ritzville, Washington, to William and Barbara Snyder. She was the fourth of five children, and grew up on a 10,000-acre cattle ranch called the Bar U Ranch.
She lost her sister in 1957 in a drowning accident, and her father in 1959 in a small aircraft accident. She was close to her paternal grandparents, Grandsir and Granny Snyder, who watched over her for many years.
In 1961, Witherspoon moved with her family to Spokane, Washington, where she attended Hamblin and Fatima Grade School. She graduated in 1970 from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane.
Witherspoon was an equestrian from an early age. She claimed to have taken her first fall from a horse at the age of 6 months. She loved horses, and spent hours riding the fields and trails of the cattle ranch where she grew up.
As a teenager, Witherspoon began riding hunters and jumpers. In 1970 she won Washington State Champion Hunter and Top Jumper with her $200 horse, Big Valley, culminating a season with over 30 first place wins.
Aimee attended Arizona State University and graduated from Whitman College with honors in 1975. There she met her husband, Jud Witherspoon, who she married that same year.
Witherspoon graduated with a doctor of veterinary medicine from Washington State University in 1979. Her first daughter, Erica, was born in 1978, and her second daughter, Jessica, was born in 1980.
In 1983 Witherspoon opened East Mill Plain Animal Hospital in Vancouver, Washington. For the next 20 years she balanced her busy veterinary practice with raising her family, which grew to include Billy in 1989 and Daniel in 1992.
While her passion for horses continued and she owned a horse continuously during these years, they took a back burner to her other commitments.
After the end of her marriage in 2003, with her children increasingly independent, Witherspoon began a new course in her work and her riding life. She completed training in veterinary acupuncture at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and began treating both large and small animals from a home-based veterinary practice, as well as teaching veterinary acupuncture.
With her newfound time and flexibility, Witherspoon began pursuing her most-loved passion, the equestrian sport of three day eventing. Here she found a cohort of kindred spirits and a sport which engaged her love for horses, her bold nature, and her penchant for detail and mastery.
Dr. Aimee Witherspoon is survived by her four children, Erica Witherspoon, Jessica Lee (husband Shawn), Billy Witherspoon, and Daniel Witherspoon, and one granddaughter, Autumn Lee.
A fund has been established in her memory at youcaring.com/aimeewitherspoonmemorialfund-986529
fund-986529. The fund will be used to provide awards, scholarships and charitable donations that benefit the welfare of others and to provide opportunities for advancement that may not otherwise be achieved.