She lived amongst us as an angel on Earth, but she left us on May 28th, to fulfill her calling at the highest level.
This is a remembrance; a love letter penned on behalf of all who knew Diane, and loved her, which was much the same. For those she helped: two-footed or four, feathered or furred, her philanthropy was hands-on and decidedly spirit-driven.
Being a vet is no easy job as it requires dealing with animals and people. Also, you see far more sick patients than healthy and have to deal with countless losses. Diane was always able to cope and keep her head up, never letting anything get her down. She cared more about others’ well-being than her own. She was selfless to the end.
Diane spent her life as an advocate for conservation and the environment; she was able to find her calling with animals – especially a love of wildlife.
It’s said to have begun in a pick-up truck bouncing down gravel roads. As a newly minted vet, she accompanied an older, rural vet as he drove from farm to farm. Any time he saw an injured animal or bird, he would stop his truck, rescue it, and take it back to the office for care.
Shortly after achieving her vet degree, Diane received her first wildlife patient. “I got a fawn who had been hit by a hay mower. I had to amputate part of her back leg and then found a sanctuary for that little deer once it grew up, and that kind of got me started.”
Over her career, Diane worked at Vets To Cats, Mill Mt Zoo, SWVA Wildlife Center, and many other vet practices. Over the course of her practice she treated just about every critter under the sun – from from big cats to small reptiles.
After years of veterinary work, Diane came to volunteer at Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke, and in so doing, allowed us to be designated as a wildlife veterinary hospital, one of three in the state of Virginia. Diane was responsible for rehabilitating thousands of injured or orphaned animals of all kinds.
Diane and husband John funded several missions in Kenya. Those missions included organizations to help take boys and girls off the streets and provide them a safe environment. They also provided medical funds to help individuals in need and supported some students through grade school and college.
Diane went to Kenya approximately 8 times over a period of 15 years. The trips were to see the programs first-hand and meet the individuals in charge of these programs to make sure the funds were being used properly. She had an expertise in raising and caring for chickens and taught many impoverished people of Africa those same skills.
Among her myriad of accomplishments was her work with large cats – including performing dentistry on jaguars at the Belize Zoo. She served as a veterinarian for Pet Peace of Mind, where she cared for pets of hospice patients. At Second Helpings, Diane volunteered to help sort and price clothing, work in their kitchen, and help with the Drumstick Dash fundraiser every Thanksgiving. https://www.facebook.com/wsls10/videos/10153461913612176/
“This devastating loss to humanity and animals alike, shouldn’t be met with sadness but rather admiration because Dr. Diane spent her life helping and that’s how she would want to be remembered,” said dear friend, Sabrina Leonard-Garvin, director of Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke. “She worked in Africa and the US to help an innumerable number of underprivileged people, especially children. Her thousands of volunteer hours over several decades helped save the lives of thousands of wildlife and domestic patients. She left indelible marks on everyone that her angelic spirit encountered.”
There was a serenity about Diane which seemed to embrace those nearby be they human or animal patients; a tranquility which remained with her until her passing. As Heaven watched her go about her life’s business, I’m sure she set a smile upon the Face above.
One would need to live several lifetimes to once again encounter such a heart as Diane’s.
The beacon guiding her life might well have been: Love isn’t love until you give it away…
Lucky and Sabrina Garvin