Remembering Lance Gorrindo
December 29, 1976 — April 4, 2016
At the age of 39, LanceGorrindo tragically died on April 4, 2016. He lives on in the stories he left us with, the laughs he brought us, and in the many ways — large and small — that we live differently for having shared our lives with him.
Lance played so many parts in the lives of so many people. We can best honor Lance by remembering him for who he was and how he affected us in small and large ways. You can honor Lance by sharing a few words describing who Lance was to you — perhaps an epic adventure that you shared with him, or just a short memory of something he once said to you that has stuck with you and still today you hear his voice — and add your remembrance to the growing collection below.
Additionally, a scholarship in Lance’s name is being established at his alma mater, Santa Clara University. Further details regarding how you can contribute to this scholarship will be posted here in the near future.
Sharing Your Stories
Lance was many things to so many people. Share your memories and photos of Lance here — as a loyal friend, a compassionate and excellent veterinarian, a relentless prankster, a diligent scholar, a lifelong athlete, an eager explorer, a lover of the wilderness.
The following eulogies and remembrances were spoken at Lance’s memorial service by some of Lance’s closest and most loved friends and family members.
Today we are all here to celebrate Lance’s life and how special a person he was.
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Early in my medical practice in Carson City I took care of Lance’s grandfather in the hospital, and that was my introduction to the Gorrindo clan.
I first met Lance when he and Tristan were about 2 years old. As pre-schoolers, I remember Lance and twin brother Tristan making the most of their office visits, effortlessly distracting Lyn and myself, exploiting the exam room as a newfound toy while the other was being examined, and then reversing the process.
Over the years they changed as kids do, they would come in and we would talk about what they were doing, what 4H project they had (it was always about the sheep) and how they were adjusting to a new brother and then a new sister.
We had family trips with the Gorrindo’s, a most notable one to La Paz, Mexico, where Lance, Tristan and my son Toby were playing and controlling the elevator at our hotel for long periods of time — and the management considered moving us to a new location.
I remember the kids doing laps in the home on Mottsville lane where they would run around the kitchen, halls, and dining room — Lance chasing Tristan until one of the doors magically shut after Tristan and Lance scored a bullseye on the door knob.
At an early age Lance enjoyed life out of doors and had a BB gun. Their German shorthair dog was harassing the neighbor’s stock and was shot. Lance and Brooks McManus retaliated with shots at the neighbor’s windows. Their success was blunted by Judge Gamble, who provided them a direct pathway to Elko if they were brought to his court again.
Several years later, there were some issues at the high school and Lance was questioned about his involvement, to which he replied “I’m not going to Elko for anyone.”
Lance enjoyed luring friends and family into his fun, and lighting them up with pranks and dares, deriving pleasure from those antics. He enjoyed competition, challenges and the “what’s next” attitude in life.
His parents looked for a university where his pushing-the-boundary routines could be modified. The Jesuits at Santa Clara University were the chosen ones. There, Lance thrived, and succeeded in making two lists: The Dean’s academic list and the list of students who might be asked not to return next quarter.
Not sure of his future path after college, he took a job in a lab at Genentech in the Santa Clara Valley. When visiting Lance there, he graciously gave us his bed and crashed on the couch amid the typically wonderful bachelor scenery of clutter, dishes and cold beer.
He decided to go to veterinary school following in his dad’s footsteps. While attending veterinary school in Colorado, his passion for hunting and fishing was enhanced.
Having completed veterinary school, he considered working in Alaska. If given the chance, he probably would have loved to have become a bush pilot and guide trips into the Alaskan wilderness. But he had more to offer.
Home for a visit, he asked about openings at the Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital. He had the desire to return to Carson Valley and work with his dad, enjoying side-by-side mentoring, discussing difficult cases and laughing out loud.
Lance had an infectious smile and an engaging personality and a caring attitude. Lance carried this and a vigilant work ethic into his successful veterinary practice. It was always good to catch up with Lance at the Gorrindo home or gatherings and hear about his plans in the wild, with work or family.
He and his wife Courtney were raising two children, Savannah and Bridger. One of Lance’s regrets was not having children earlier in his life, raising a buddy to do those out of door activities so important to Lance’s soul.
With Lance’s death there is a void for us. We feel this loss but let’s focus on those times when we laughed, did things with him we should not have, enjoyed a brew or a yarn on a hot summer day, a soccer game where he used penalty kick moves to gain advantage, a cast in a river, a hiking trip in Yellowstone and for many, his caring way. This wonderful giving person was also a Son, Brother, Hunter, Scholar, Athlete, Veterinarian, Husband and Father.
We honor his tenacity, his toughness, his embodiment of the Basque culture that propelled him to accomplish his tasks at hand. There was also his search to find a balance, a path, a hunt which eluded him, a star out of his reach. Let’s wish him well on his next journey.
– Robert Basta
I’ve known Lance for over 40 years. How is that possible even though he is only 39? We shared the same cramped space for many months prior to meeting our mom and dad. I’m Tristan, his twin brother.
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I’ve struggled to figure out exactly what to say here today. Trying to make sense of his life and his death seems like too tall a task. And truth be told, we haven’t been as close in the last 20 years as we were in the first 20. Luckily there are many here today that will try to put that part of his life in perspective.
Having spent almost every minute together for the first 20 years of our lives, it’s hard to know how to put all of that into words. So, I’m not going to try to. Instead I’m going to walk you through a day in our childhood. His love of adventure, animals, and family were all a part of him, even back then.
So, close your eyes and imagine this. It’s 1988. We are living in a big wooden house off of Mottsville lane. It’s a school day and Lance’s alarm clock goes off at 630am. “Beep, beep, beep,” I can hear it through the wall that separates our rooms. It’s my alarm clock too apparently. After taking my shower, I return to my room and “beep, beep, beep,” his alarm is still ringing. I go into his room. “Wake up. We’re going to be late.” He’s tired. It’s the end of ewing season and he’s been out to the barn several times to check on lambs and sheep in labor. He might be exhausted from and occasionally tube tube feeding struggling lambs or warming them over night in our shower.
After devouring a chocolate chip costco muffin, it’s off to the bus. Now many of you may remember the rusty red tandem bike that lance and I rode around town during that time, but a bicycle would never get us to the bus in time. Out the door we dash and hop on our steed — a 4 wheeler quad. Brooks McManus was often in the driveway waiting to race us to the bus stop down the ½ mile dusty dirt road. Now this wasn’t just two 12 year olds on a quad, it was two 12 year olds, a golden retriever seeing eye dog in training, and a giant saxophone case. We’d both sit on the case, I’d hold the dog, lance would drive, and off we would race. He loved the thrill of racing the bus has it came over the hill from the Kolbe’s and we dashed to the end of the long dirt road.
Our school day was pretty typical. Lance was an amazing student, and although known for his life as a scientist and vet, few know that he was also a gifted writer. It was in middle school that he first learned to break the hearts of what would be a long line of girlfriends. He had that gorgeous smile even back then. I don’t know if Ashley Wright is here today, but she was the first crush. After school day, the day may have been filled with soccer practice, a walk down to GES to see my mom’s classroom, or more likely heading home to get in all sorts of trouble.
Over the years that trouble took a couple of different forms: jumping off the our upstair balcony on the trampoline in the backyard; building a new jump for the 4-wheeler out of mud and plywood, shooting clay pigeons, or watching hours of the Joan Rivers show and Geraldo Rivera. This last one was particularly problematic as Lance and I loved TV often at the expense of all our sheep related chores. We were so bad at exercising our 4-H sheep that my dad had a sheep treadmill built (yes you heard that correctly). In a 3 minute commercial break, we could load up the sheep (sometime two at a time), flip switch to start the treadmill, and get back to couch and double-stuff oreos (a favorite). The problem came 45 minutes later when it would dawn on us that neither of us had gotten up to get the sheep off the treadmill. Out we’d run to set them free. Let’s just say we had very muscular sheep that year.
Dinner was ritualized. Lance and I had the same assigned seats at the dinner table for 18 years. Me on the left, him on the right. Often a friend was at the table too — Brooks McManus, Ryan Derby Talbot, Justin Kolbe, Ethan Petite to name a few. Tuna casserole, 3 layer jello, or another 80s dish dejour was always on the menu. Dinner usually involved some some sort of sibling antagonism. Kicking under the table and even the occasional food fight. Lance always used a meal as an opportunity to bring up an embarrassing comment about you, putting it all out on the table. “I heard you got caught passing a note in pre-algebra” or “I heard your dog took a dump in band class today” or something of the like. He had a way of giving voice to the things you never wanted to talk about, but ultimately should have discussed and laughed about as a family.
Evening were filled with homework, playing duck hunt on our nintendo, wrestling, or getting into yet more trouble with friends. Lance loved to make prank phone calls — the Valley Bar on Hwy 88 being a favorite target. Don’t ask me why. This was before caller id. Had it been today, every business in the valley would have known not to pick up a call from 702-782-8858.
By 9pm, it was time to settle in for bed. Both back to each side of the wall the separated our rooms. I don’t even know that my parents know this, but I was afraid a lot in those days. I don’t really know.why, but I would often go into his room and curl up on the floor so as not to be alone. He’d tell me I didn’t need to be afraid and sometimes even come down and sleep on the floor with me. He was my knight in shining armour those days; keeping me safe from the terrible things in the world. Now it’s our turn to care for him. Keep him in your hearts. Remember his smile, his mischievousness, his sense of adventure, his love of family and animals. Remember Lance.
– Tristan Gorrindo
I have known the Gorrindos for over 30 years, and a large majority of my memories and experiences I had growing up in Gardnerville involve Lance.
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When I learned about this incident I was asked to tell a story about Lance. I have so many, whether it was playing sports, flying remote control airplanes, or float-tubing the slough behind his house chasing ducks or geese around with our shotguns.
But I couldn’t think of one that I thought would be appropriate for today. So instead I want to share a life lesson Lance recently taught me. If anyone here is like me, you know that most of the remembered “life lessons” are learned because you screwed something up. So this one really stands out for me.
Lance was an avid hunter and for last 6 or 7 years, Lance has been trying to get me out on one of his wild adventure hunts — everything from a race up north to chase a mountain lion around, to elaborate drop hunts into the Alaskan wilderness.
But like most things, life got in the way. And I just never could commit to one of these hunts, I thought my life was too busy and I didn’t think I could find the time.
Lance wouldn’t give up; every time I would turn him down, he would always finish our conversation with, “next year?” — never taking no for an answer. And of course I would always tell him “yep, next year,” thinking the next year things would slow down enough. But eventually several years passed and I still couldn’t get out of life’s way.
Last fall I was back in town visiting my parents, and Lance, Courtney, Savannah and Bridger came over for dinner. Right away my old man and Lance started in on me about this Alaskan bush hunt for moose, the hunt of a lifetime, and of course Lance extended the invitation, asking me if this would be the year I could go.
During dinner, I overheard Courtney and my wife talking, and Courtney mentioned that she was going to take Bridger on a walk down by the river to catch frogs, and wondered if my sons Max and Mason would like to go.
This reminded me of one summer when Brooks McManus, Lance and I were hanging out by the slough behind their house. We saw these large bullfrogs that would climb out of the water and sit up on the bank. We tried sneaking up on these frogs to catch them, but the willows were so overgrown that when we would get close, the noise and movement of the bending brush would scare them and they would jump back into the water. Not willing to give up, Lance came up with this idea to use a fishing pole with a fishing fly on the end of it that we could slide between the brush, keeping us at a distance. We would bob these flies right over the frog and when the frog grabbed onto the fly, we would real them in.
After catching what we thought were the biggest frogs in the slough we took them back over to a watering trough behind Brooks’s house and we started having frog races, making them jump from a fence into the trough to get momentum and watch them race to the other side.
After this memory filled my mind I thought to myself how great it was that Bridger and my sons would be doing the same things Lance, Brooks and I did. I remember sitting there thinking how long ago that was and how quickly the time had passed.
Not wanting any more time to pass, I committed to Lance and my old man that I was finally in for the Alaskan hunt. We were scheduled to go this September, just 5 months away.
I cannot help but wonder if 6 or 7 years ago, if I would have realized the importance of this life lesson and committed to Lance, would a hunt, a conversation with an old friend, or a great experience have changed this outcome?
I let this opportunity pass by, missing it by just 5 short months.
Courtney, Savanah, Bridger, Bob, Lyn, Tristian, Phil, and Katie I am very sorry for everything you are going through and I’m very sorry this happened.
– Andrew Pennucci
I have so many memories of Lance that I don’t know where to begin. The Gorrindo family was our closest neighbor when I was growing up, so we were always together. I think there were many times they thought they had four sons. The family treated me like one of their own.
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Lance and I became fast friends and did all kinds of things together. We were on the same soccer teams all through middle school and high school. We rode our quads up and down the dirt road and through all the fields. Tearing everything up and getting yelled at, but it was always worth it. We would hunt and fish and build rockets and remote-controlled airplanes. We worked at the Hone Ranch for several summers. We worked for a landscaping company together one summer and butchered a lot of lawns in the valley. We worked at Genoa Lakes golf course and got free golf and had a lot of laughs and good times.
We went our separate ways for college and beyond, but whenever we got together it was like the conversation started back up right where we left off the last time we saw each other. For about the last five years I got to see more of Lance. Mostly at the hospital where we would catch up over the loud mouth breathing of my bulldog, but we also got to see each other outside of his work. We had dinner and picons together at the JT and got to spend some time together this past Christmas Eve. He had a great smile and a funny laugh that always made me join in.
A big piece of my life was gone for a while, but I’m glad I was able to get some of it back these past few years. We got to reconnect and tell some stories about when we were crazy kids and all the stupid, but fun, things we did and reminisce about great times in our lives.
There’s a hole in my heart that will never be filled. My friend, my brother, you will be greatly missed and I will never forget you.
– Brooks McManus
The last decision of Lance’s life was clearly his worst decision. As a man, he regularly made very good decisions and life choices. His judgment at home, at the hospital and in the field was always measured with careful and prudent reasoning. Yet his last decision, his last judgment relative to his life, was his worst. One that can’t be undone and one that will haunt each of us each time we reflect on Lance. As those who are left to pick up the pieces of his shattered family and friends, it would be understandable to be hurt and perhaps even angry with Lance’s last decision.
However, I choose not to allow the feelings as to the worst decision of his life to cloud the 30-plus years I’ve known Lance.
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You see, through these 30-plus years, I knew him as:
– A good athlete; particularly in soccer
– An exceptional student throughout his life
– A son every mother or father would be proud to call their own
– A great friend – I am very proud that he considered me a friend. It has been one of the great honors of my life that he considered me a friend
– A faithful and loving husband – he loved Courtney deeply
– A very proud father – He was so very proud of Bridger and loved Savanah as if she was his own.
– A dedicated and compassionate veterinarian, who cared deeply for his clients and their
– An avid conservationist. Some of you will continue to fail to reconcile in your mind how
on Sunday night he could compassionately care for your favorite pet, but by the following Tuesday he could be passionately pursuing a deer, or an elk, or the pelt of an unsuspecting fur-bearing creature!
I count myself to have been greatly privileged to have spent considerable time hunting with Lance. He was with me and walked every step during my Nevada elk hunt – memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. Dr. Steve and I were with him this past fall for a time while he was pursuing his Nevada elk – unfortunately, I couldn’t be there to see the joy and happiness when he harvested that great animal. Lance had organized an Alaska moose hunt for this coming September. I was so very excited when he invited Andy and me to go with him. It would have been a great time to spend 10 uninterrupted days in the Alaska wilderness with Lance and Andy together again.
These are the memories of Lance I will cling to. I will refuse to allow one very bad decision after a lifetime of great decisions and good character to define my great friend.
Obviously Lance struggled mightily with something, which he inexplicably chose not to share or seek help for. I regret, as all of you do, that he didn’t call on me or you as one of his family, friends, or a loved one for counsel, comfort and accountability. Because I have been forgiven for all of my sins, I can forgive Lance for not giving us a chance to help him as he has helped me. There is forgiveness through Jesus Christ for every manner of sin – no sin is beyond forgiveness. No matter how desperate things appear, through the God of all Creation there is a way of hope; for forgiveness and even reconciliation. I wish Lance would have afforded me the opportunity to share these facts with him. It has been one of my consistent prayers this week that each of us, particularly you, Courtney, Savannah, Bridger, Bob, Lyn, Tristan, Phillip and Katie – that each of us would find comfort, healing and forgiveness in and through the God of Comfort, the God of Healing and His Son, Jesus Christ. I pray that each of you will be surrounded by Christian men and women during the coming months, perhaps years; men and women who reverentially fear God that will consistently and lovingly remind you to find your solace and comfort in Christ, for there is forgiveness in Him.
As I go through the remainder of my God‐allotted time here on earth, I will cherish my time I had with Lance; I will forever miss the times that I should have had with Lance.
– Rob Anderson
Lance was like a brother to me… he was a mentor, an advisor, a loyal, trusted friend. He called me Carmel (because he couldn’t understand why I would be named after my country), then started calling me Assman… that’s a long story.
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He was truly a kid at heart. He was one of the first people with whom I had a beer at Santa Clara… first week of school… I think it was actually a Zima. I shared a lot of good times with Lance, from classes, to labs, to studying in the flooded dungeon of the old SCU library, to parties, altercations and near-altercations, bean burritos after hours of studying, all his damn facial washes and cleansers… Lance and his acne stuff, man could he grow the best goatees too.
We shared more in common than uncommon. I would never have shot a black powder rifle without Lance, or learn how to drink for that matter, or use a beer bong. He was always fun to be around, and man he was a great prankster… some of us know what I am talking about, with our freshman RA and, well, the poop story. Exceptionally bright, hard-working as an ox, and loyal and tough as nails — he was always there when I needed him, with academics, relationship challenges, he always had my back. That kind of friend is hard to find. He was definitely an instigator too, daring me to taze a guy on the leg, betting on me to beat him in a fight, to mouthing off at a girlfriend’s ex, daring me to shave my head like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver.
He had a big heart. He would drop what he was doing when I needed to talk and advise me — mostly for the better. All of what I learned and experienced with Lance actually helped me mature. He was part of how I grew up — college would never have been the same without him, my life would be completely different… He helped me become more confident in myself, intellectually and socially. We shared some disciplinary challenges freshman year, studied a ton together sophomore year, he was there as a counselor on many occasions, he and Angie are solely responsible for bringing me and my wife together. I am eternally grateful for that and for them. We even lived together after college with Spinetta and those two white kittens, one of whom Dr. Bob saved after he got his paw stuck in a folding chair.
I remember so much about Lance as if it were just a year ago. So many memories of Lance. I can talk for hours… Star Wars fanatic, little Yoda figure on his desk while taking exams, Goldschlagger-drinking, St John’s garlic fries and burgers, lighting farts, throwing oranges at cars. Maybe Roberson started that tradition.
Who tape-records college science lectures and re-writes them??? Lance.
So much time studying, maybe too much time. I remember his two-door gray Honda Accord with tinted windows and a sweet stereo. We’d go to downtown San Jose and go “low riding” with music blasting. It was hilarious. There are so many more memories that only he and I shared, I won’t be able to recollect because he is gone, he is not here to reminisce with me.
So confusing, so sad… I only wish I had stayed more connected with him. I experienced Lance in his good times and bad times, his happy times and times of tears that broke my heart.
He knew he had enormous shoes to fill with his family. He was hard on himself at times, he had some amazing work ethic, hours and hours with no breaks in the library. This guy was superhuman, I’d fall asleep in front of an OChem text and he’d be plugging away with his perfect little handwriting in his perfectly organized lab book and his annoying sunflower seeds he’d chew on. He kept me going though, he made sure I didn’t quit.
I will always be grateful for him, for his time, his friendship, his guidance — he was an amazing soul and he will be dearly missed.
– Armen Agacanyan
My Name is Don Hemerson and Lance was my best friend, the brother I never had.
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Lance was always there when I needed him. Lance was hard-working, intelligent, and a very thoughtful person. He was close to his friends and had a lot of people that cared about him, as we can see, because Lance cared about people. Whether it was clients or his friends, Lance would go above and beyond to support and take care of them.
When I think about Lance, the first thing that comes to mind is: humor. From hiding a rotten salmon salad in my office that made it stink for weeks, to covering my car with bullet hole stickers, Lance loved to prank and joke with people. His comments and the way he viewed things would make you laugh for hours, like wearing his “Infidel” t-shirt, or seeing him sitting on a plane with a surgical mask on.
Some of us knew Lance as the enabler, we all have our stories of how Lance would get us to do something that we didn’t want to do, sometimes for good, like going to work out, and sometimes for the worse, like waking up with a hangover because Lance wanted you to have that one last drink.
Lance’s and my friendship started when we got together at Cameron’s house 9 years ago. We made elk sausage and peppers, and for the first time played a videogame called “Call of Duty.” After that night, Lance and I were hooked on “Call of Duty.” I can still hear him yelling at the other players on the TV as we would play late into the evening.
One of the great things about being Lance’s friend was that it was like being a kid again. I remember when we went to the store and bought these stupid little airsoft guns. We spent hours running around his neighborhood and the park playing army, shooting each other and then looking at our welts like they were badges of honor.
Or the time when Cameron, Lance and I were having a meeting, and Lance abruptly jumped over my desk, feet in the air, flying at me like Superman, and tackled me in my chair, laughing so hard he could barely breathe.
I will miss our movie nights on Tuesdays. For those of you who don’t know, Lance and I found out that Tuesday night movies were discounted to $6 and that we could then take our movie tickets to Reds Grille for a free $8 beer. I think Lance and I took each other on more dates then we did our wives.
During the course of our friendship, we saw each other get married, have children, and moved Lance’s house many times.
I will miss our Starbucks breaks during work, our workouts at the gym, Lance asking me to bake him a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but most of all I will miss the conversations and the laughter.
Thanks to Lance, I am a better man than I was before I knew him. He taught me to say what I mean and not to worry about political correctness. He taught me to have fun and always laugh, and he taught me what it meant to be a true friend.
– Don Hemerson
I am deeply saddened to be so far away in Africa and unable to be with so many friends and colleagues who knew and loved Lance as I did and I still do.
My relationship with Lance goes back nearly to his birth. Our son Ryan was born within months of Lance and our kids grew up together. I followed his development over the years into the remarkable young man he became.
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When he became my colleague at the veterinary hospital, we became friends and over the years our friendship deepened. In the past 6 or 7 years we took many hunting trips together. We had lots of fun discussing and buying new gear for our next trip. He pushed me to get a trainer at the gym to be in better shape for our future hunting trips together. After my heart surgery, he always insisted on helping me carry some of my gear.
He was often the first person I greeted when I arrived at the hospital in the morning and I always looked forward to our catching-up conversations. We conferred on cases routinely and he would always stay to help out if appointments and surgery ran late.
When we had an emergency come into the hospital, the receptionists always knew that Lance would be willing to handle it, if needed. He would always go the extra mile to make sure all the animals got the care they needed.
In the future, when I need to sedate a challenging case at the hospital, I will forever be asking the techs, “what would Lance do?”
He was uncanny in training his assistants to help him work more efficiently. It made them happy as they were always learning new things. And, of course, he loved to harass the staff in a fun and teasing way whenever he got a chance.
Lance was an extraordinary human being and a brilliant veterinarian whose clients adored him. Our hospital, our community, and the world are poorer without Lance among us.
It is not what you say, it is who you are in life that makes a difference. That was who Lance was for the veterinary hospital: a super-star veterinarian and a wonderful, wonderful colleague and friend.
His passing has left a hole in my world and in the lives of so many of us here. Let us come together and console one another as we move forward in an altered world – a world without our friend Lance in our midst. It is not easy to celebrate a life that was cut too short and taken from us way too early. But let us honor his memory, grateful for the time we had with him, and by keeping him always in our hearts and our lives.
– Steve Talbot
Lance was a dear friend and amazing business partner to me. I met Lance when he was still in high school and over the last 20 years we developed a brotherly bond that I will always cherish.
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We had some amazing adventures over those years and the stories will be forever in my mind. I will never forget our low budget trips to Yellowstone and Alaska, our many hunting trips around the country, and our fishing and canoeing trips to Canada. Lance always made sure our trips were filled with excitement, practical jokes, and lasting memories. Lance’s magnetic personality always brought people together and forged friendships that will last lifetimes.
As a veterinarian, Lance was one of a kind. He was intelligent, talented, intuitive and extremely caring. Lance always wanted to learn more and was never satisfied with being average. He brought out the best in everyone at our hospital. The Valley was lucky to have such a special man take care of their pets. Lance made working fun for all our staff.
Lance was always there for me during the good and bad times. He has changed my life forever. I will miss you my friend.