AKRON - Michelle "Shelly" Van Huffel Witherspoon, 55, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Akron.
She was born April 24, 1957, in Warren, to Harold E. "Mike" Van Huffel Jr. and Mary Gertrude Palmer Sampson.
Shelly graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1975 and attended Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind.
An opportunity at Sea World - where her duties included swimming with dolphins, feeding sharks, diving for pearls, assisting with orcas and performing in the Super-Friends water-ski show - led her back to Ohio and eventually to Orlando, Fla., 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, Mich. Often heard humming a tune or singing a song, music figured heavily into her life. Her musical tastes were broad, 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 is survived by her mother, Mrs. Mary (Don) Sampson of Akron; six siblings, Valerie Van Huffel Bloom, William Sampson and Victoria Sampson of Akron, Michael Van Huffel and Regan Van Huffel Botsford of San Francisco, and Dennis Van Huffel of Austin, Texas. She also leaves behind four nephews, Christopher Bloom, Hutton Van Huffel, Penn Van Huffel and Henry Botsford.
Preceding her in death was her father, Harold E. "Mike" Van Huffel.
Services will be held in her memory at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Victory Light Church in Stow and 11 a.m. Thursday at Blessed Sacrament Church in Warren.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests considering a donation in her name to the American Red Cross or the American Veterinary Foundation.
Arrangements were handled by the Gordon-Flury Memorial Home in Akron.