Michelle "Shelly" Van Huffel Witherspoon was born on April 24, 1957 to Harold E. "Mike" Van Huffel, Jr. and Mary Gertrude Palmer Sampson in Warren, Ohio. She passed away October 2 in Akron, Ohio.|
Shelly graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1975 and attended Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. An opportunity at Sea World-where her duties included swimming with dolphins, feeding sharks, diving for pearls, assisting with orca whales and acting in the Super-Friends water-ski show--led her back to Ohio and eventually to Orlando, Florida where she settled and spent many years.
Prior to her passing, Shelly was studying veterinary medicine. She was dedicated to this work and it was a natural extension of her passion for animals. It's no exaggeration to state that she saved countless dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, possums, rats, raccoons, worms, and everything in between from untimely ends.
She saved people too. Michelle was recently recognized by the American Red Cross for donating 50 gallons of blood in her lifetime.
Michelle was an avid swimmer, spirited Notre Dame fan and cherished her summers at Diamond Lake, Michigan. Often heard humming a tune or singing a song, music figured heavily into her life. Her musical tastes were broad and impeccable and greatly influenced her six younger siblings.
Shelly possessed an exuberant personality, a perfect smile, and an infectious laugh that will always be remembered and forever missed.
She had a quiet but tenacious faith in the Lord that would sometimes lead her to speak profound words of encouragement to her family and friends alike. She was a very gifted writer, creating beautiful poems, letters, and short stories. Shelly's gratefulness for even the simplest kindness was a hallmark of her sweet spirit which she so often reciprocated, bringing joy, laughter, and comfort to many souls in her journey through this life.
She is survived by her mother, Mary Sampson and step-father, Don Sampson of Akron, Ohio; her six siblings, Valerie (Van Huffel) Bloom, William Sampson, Victoria Sampson of Akron, Michael Van Huffel and Regan (Van Huffel) Botsford of San Francisco, California and Dennis Van Huffel of Austin, Texas. She leaves behind four nephews, Christopher Bloom, Hutton Van Huffel, Penn Van Huffel, and Henry Botsford. Preceding her in death is her father, Harold E. "Mike" Van Huffel.
Two memorial services will be held in her memory. The first service will be on Wednesday, October 10th. at 11 a.m. at Victory Life Church in Stow, Ohio. The second service will be on Thursday, October 11th. at 11 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament in Warren, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her name to the American Red Cross, Humane Society, or American Veterinary Foundation. Additionally, any assistance re-homing her beloved cats, Mr. Paws,Tinkerbell, Scooter, Tulip, Pansy, Gizmo, Gato, Princess, Spook1, Spook2, and Torti, would be greatly appreciated.
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Oct. 7, 2012