Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sherry Van Wagoner, Horse Warrior

It is with a very sad heart that I have to relay the news of the passing of one of our own. Sherry Van Wagoner of Apache Junction, one of our founding members, passed away late last week. She had been battling leukemia for several years.
Sherry, along with several other "Fans of Barbaro" first helped to organize this Arizona chapter of horse advocacy.

Sherry was a friend to ALL animals, but especially a voice for our horses.
She was a true "Horse Warrior," fighting for horse legislation as well as supporting many rescue causes, truly unselfish when it came to opening her wallet.

Several of her rescues included Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary here in Phoenix and TB Friends in California
, among others.

I have been thinking about what to say about Sherry when I saw a message from Daryl Smoliak about her. I have decoded to defer to him,  let him explain a little more, and mention the memorial for Sherry.

I want to give a sincere thanks to everyone who showed love & support for Sherry. Your e-mails, cards & posts were incredible. Sherry's sister Lois never understood the connection between Sherry, Barbaro & this "Famblee." She does now! She has been deeply moved.
Sherry was a giver. I saw acts of kindness  the whole time I knew her. She was relentless. She was passionate. America's horses meant so much to her. She never gave up the fight. Tough as it is, she never gave up. On our trip to DC in the summer of 2007, after 4 days of lobbying we went to dinner with the people we were staying with. She broke down, said she couldn't do this anymore. We had met aides that were mean, aides that lied, aides that couldn't get a job as a greeter at Wal Mart. We ran into a world that we knew nothing about....but we were quickly educated on the evils of DC. She cried for about 5 minutes and said I can't do this. One hour later she was plotting the next day's agenda on her march into the halls of congress. I'll never forget how she stood up to a Chief of Staff when that person, a woman, said that her boss and many congressmen, look at the horse slaughter issue as one headed by over-emotional women. Mount St. Helens erupted there. Sherry said she had just spent a whole week showing aides she was educated, emotions were in the back pocket and she had presented all information in a professional manner. She asked the COS if she had done so, been professional. The COS said yes then Sherry said to her, "Okay, tell your boss you met a woman who knew the bill inside & out, was extremely educated and professional.........and there are thousands more like me! And tell him he would know this if he met personally with women constituents who are supoporting this bill. And his attitude, and other congressmen's attitude about emotional women is condescending and you should be embarrassed as a woman to hear this from him." The COS had no response other than wide eyes and a gaping jaw. LOL! Yup, that's the Sherry who stood up for the horses.
I am still getting queries from people about Sherry's poodle and two horses and what is to become of them. Amigo her poodle is going with her ex-husband Bill. He is a great guy and after their divorce he continued to help her in many ways. When they were married they picked Amigo from the litter. He loves Amigo. The two horses, Warpaint & Dakota, are going to Minnesota with me in March. They will be re-united with Gunner, the horse Sherry adopted two years ago. After she got sick she sent Gunner to me. He is boarded at an incredible facilty. 200 acres with ponds, trees, prairie grasses, huge indoor arena. My two co-owners, Margaret & Janelle, have done incredible things for Gunner. They have totally invested themselves in Gunner's well being and will do so for Warpaint & Dakota. They will never be our horses. They will always be Sherry's horses. Margaret, Janelle & I will be their caretakers.
Many people have asked what they can do for me. I thank all who have asked. Thank you for your support. And yes, there are three things that you can do for me.
1. Never quit the fight to end horse slaughter and free America's wild horses &  burros. Sherry never quit. To honor her....continue the fight.
2. Continue to support Joe & Cathy at TB Friends and Jim at Tierra Madre. These facilities and the above mentioned people were so deeply embedded in Sherry's heart. How many times she referred to them as, "Heroes!" Yes they are.
3. This holiday season let's celebrate the life of one of Barbaro's greatest gifts to us: Sherry Van Wagoner!
Lois has decided to hold a gathering at Sherry's house on January 17. How about we designate that day as "Donation Day!" and everyone send $5.00 (or more if you llike) to TB Friends and $5.00 to Tierra Madre.
Once again, heartfelt thanks for showing the love & support for this wonderful woman.
Sherry Van Wagoner, you will always be loved!


  1. Thank You AAHS for remembering Sherry Van Wagoner on your blog here!! I'd really thought that ABR would post something on the main comments, and when they didn't,.... it felt so wrong! Sherry and CJ were so very hopeful and inspirational! It's nice to see that Sherry, and CJ have been mentioned and so honored by this org. whose done so much on behalf of the horses! I thank you so much for this tribute!! For these words of remembrance. and respect, it means a lot.

    Smile,'ll give your face something to do!\
    lj (jock4hire)

  2. Sherry and CJ will both me sadly and greatly missed.