Animal Lover

 Abby Gibson (Knoxville News Sentinel)The late Abby Gibson was in kindergarten when she set her sights on attending the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and spending her life caring for all animals, big and small, domestic and exotic, according to a recent article in the Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel.

While she loved all animals from cats to humpback whales, Abigail Elliott Gibson really, really loved horses, reporter Amy McRary emphasized in a story about Abby’s mother’s efforts to endow a UT vet school scholarship in Abby’s memory.

Abby, age 10, died June 3, 2010, from internal injuries she suffered when she fell from a horse, McRary explained. The horse she was riding stumbled and fell to its front knees after making a jump. Abby lost her balance and fell about two feet. . . . She was wearing a helmet and had no head injuries. But the impact lacerated her liver, ruptured her spleen and caused internal bleeding.

She was flown by helicopter to the UT Medical Center. So many family and friends gathered there hospital personnel found them a separate room in which to wait. Doctors and nurses tried to save Abby. They couldn't.

The obituary her family prepared said: She died doing what she loved most...riding horses.

The family asked that memorial donations be made to the Abby Gibson Veterinary Medicine Scholarship Endowment at the UT vet college.

Now the endowment holds $16,000, McRary wrote in the April 8 article. When $25,000 is raised, the sum will be invested by UT and the income earned go to annual scholarships. The money will go to a student who graduated from an East Tennessee high school.

A “Walk & Wag Dog Walk” will take place at 10 a.m. June 2 at Victor Ashe Park, 4901 Bradshaw Road, Knoxville, to raise money for the scholarship. Participants can register for $10 per dog before April 30 or $15 per canine after that date at or

Visit Abby’s Guest Book to leave condolences and comments.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.