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Remembering Kathryn “Kate” Defenbaugh

August 18, 2015

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Kate (right) and her mom Diane Defenbaugh.


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Kate (right) in the anesthesia lab while at school.

August 18, 2015

We were saddened to learn of the death last week of Kathryn “Kate” Defenbaugh, Class of 2013, and her mother Diane Defenbaugh, DVM (University of Illinois). They were killed in a tragic car accident in Chula Vista, California.
“This is huge blow to our veterinary community with far reaching ripples throughout the profession and our society,” Dean Lairmore said. “On behalf of our school’s faculty, staff and students, our heartfelt condolences go out to her family, friends and classmates.”

Kate graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2009 before coming to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. During her time at the school, she received a Theodora Peigh Endowed Scholarship, a George & Helen Bailey Scholarship and Floyd Tuition Support Scholarship.

She completed the rigors of a demanding program of 104 weeks of didactic coursework and 57 weeks of clinical experiences. The curriculum at UC Davis integrates normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology centered on body systems rather than disciplines -- while emphasizing critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-directed learning to maximize their opportunities for life-long success. Kate put those hard-earned skills to work in San Diego following graduation where she could be near her mom again, whose footsteps she had followed into veterinary medicine.
She joined the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association and landed an internship at Pet Emergency and Specialty Center. She recently accepted a position at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Chula Vista.
According to the SDCVMA, on the day of the accident, mother and daughter were on their way to celebrate Kate’s 29th birthday and swim with the dolphins at Sea World.

A few of Kate’s closest friends in vet school—Sharon Ostermann, Maggie Loomer and Stephanie Rogers—offer these remembrances:

You would know Kate if you saw her. Kate was the most fashionable veterinarian you will ever meet, adorning bright and bold colors paired with high heels, even while walking her beloved UC Davis colony dogs and examining patients—a habit of her mother’s (also a veterinarian) that she fully embraced.

Most people know that Kate loved to crochet stuffed animals, a hobby she would often partake in during veterinary school lectures. Kate would gift her final creations to friends and family, or sell them at the craft fair at St. James Catholic Church and donate the proceeds to charity. Her heart was truly kind and selfless. Her smile was contagious and would light up a room.

Those who knew her best knew that Kate loved to surf and was gregarious and talkative, filled with life and love. She always maintained a positive attitude and saw the good in everyone. She tutored classmates and was active in the Veterinary Business Management Association Club. Kate competed, often in a skirt, on a bowling team with her friends in the Vet Med Bowling League; they even took first place one year. Her friends will always remember the intricately planned thematic dinner parties thrown by Kate. She took pride in being the perfect host and planned even the most minute details to fit with the theme, including red colored heart shaped ice cubes at Valentine’s Day.

Kate always looked up to her mother, Diane. Kate worked hard and was proud to follow in her mother’s footsteps, becoming an incredible veterinarian. The two of them were inseparable and shared a stronger bond than most mother-daughter pairs. They went to London together every Christmas, a trip that Kate looked forward to all year long. Nothing made them happier than being together, experiencing all the joys of life. The veterinary community lost two amazing veterinarians in one fell swoop, and they will both be greatly missed by all who knew them.

The Defenbaugh family will host a "Celebration of Life" memorial in San Diego before they return home to the Chicago area on:
Friday, August 21st
Saint Patrick Catholic Parish
3585 30th Street, San Diego, 92104
(Directly across from VCA Angel Animal Hospital)

Condolences to the Defenbaugh family can be sent to the VCA Angel Animal Hospital which will ensure their delivery:

Defenbaugh Family
c/o VCA Angel Animal Hospital
3537 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104