Dakota "Doc" Woodard Memorial Scholarship

Dakota "Doc" James Woodard ('15 DVM)

January 17, 2020

Dakota James “Doc” Woodard, a resident of Dorris, California, a veterinarian and lover of animals and life, unexpectedly went to be with his Savior on January 17, 2020 while doing what he loved on his ranch. He was 31 years old.

Doc was born to Scott and Cathy (Fuhrman) Woodard in Alamogordo, New Mexico on February 1, 1988. He graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Washington State University. Doc went on to found Broken W Cattle and Quarter Horses, and owned his veterinary practice with his wife, traveling to provide the best care for animals and their families. He will be remembered by all for his life-giving humor, his compassionate heart, his wit, and his unapologetic approach to living life to its fullest.

Doc is survived by his parents, his wife Kelsey (Ericson) Woodard, whom he married on September 14, 2019, his sister Joscyln (Jonathan) Patrick, grandmother Penny Woodard, and his niece and nephews Addisyn and Truxton Patrick who miss their “Dodo,” in addition to many other relatives who adored him. He is preceded by maternal and paternal great grandparents, maternal grandparents James and Mary Fuhrman, and paternal grandfather Ronald Woodard, and aunt Brenda Peeler.

Dakota’s life will be celebrated by all who loved him with two services. The first is February 22, 2020 at 2:00 PM at the Dorris Community Center. The second service will be in Ruidoso, New Mexico at Angus Church of the Nazarene on February 29, 2020 at noon. A scholarship is being set up in his honor at the Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine as well as for the LaPine Rodeo. You will be missed, cowboy- but we are thankful that by His grace we have the hope that we will see you again, soon.

Eulogy by Miguel Inzunza - "Half-Smile Half-Smirk"

I doubt many people know this. The first time I met Dakota was at NMSU on a visit to recruit prospective veterinary students for WSU Vetmed. It was early fall 2010. I had the coolest job traveling the country helping students figure out how to improve their chances at getting admitted to veterinary school. My job was to share information about WSU Vetmed but more importantly, my job was to look for the very best student. I took notes and I highlighted the top prospects. The students with 4.0 GPA’s and the ones with extraordinary veterinary experience and those who gave back to the community and those who were leaders.

Dr. Wenzel, NMSU faculty/State Veterinarian, set up my visit where I gave an hour-long presentation to the vet club. This was followed by a college fair set up, then followed by one-on-one meetings with students. Now it’s important to note, that the one-on-one meeting with students, are not official interviews to get admitted to vet school but rather a time for me to gather intelligence to report back to the “mothership” – WSU Vetmed.

There I was, sitting in a conference room at NMSU Department of Animal and Range Sciences with a list of students scheduled at 30 minute increments. Names like Sarah Lopez (now Loya), Katie Owens, Katie Gutierrez, and Dakota Woodard amongst others filled my list.

I can still see the nervous faces of the students as they walked in to meet with me. Some had sweaty hands, some dressed to impress, and some stumbled on a simple hello giving away their nervousness.

Then I met Dakota. A smile, a firm handshake, a look straight in the eye, and a hello with unequivocal confidence. I looked him up and down and noticed the western attire (a nod in the right direction for my taste) I noticed the clean cut, tidy haircut, and a notebook/folder at the ready. Then I looked down and noticed the boots. Yes those boots. What did I see? I saw a poor attempt to wipe off the mud, cow pies and horse shit. His boots were crusty with streaks of smoothness where I could tell he hastily wiped. When I looked back up I was received with that Dakota half-smile half-smirk we all have grown to love. We were now ready for our meeting.

Our conversation started with his grades. A’s and B’s. Solid. We moved to vet experience. Solid. The conversation moved smooth and fast. With every passing minute I was more and more impressed with this young man.

What I did not write in my notes was that the “interview” got high-jacked and we ended talking about hunting, fishing, football, family, beer drinking, horses, kids, and family. What I did write in my notes was YES! We want him! Words like genuine, kind, smart, likable, good with people, and stud filled my notes. This was my first impression of Dakota.

Our meeting lasted way over the allotted 30 minutes. In these meetings, I typically give students time to ask me questions about vet school admissions. Or whatever they wish. Most students ask questions pertaining to veterinary medicine. Dakota did the same but he took an interest in me and had a pile of questions about me personally. He wanted to know how long I worked at WSU, did I like my job, what hotel I was staying while in Las Cruces, had I been to La Cruces before, he offered advice on best places to eat. He continued to ask questions about me and my family.

In the end, he had me buttered up. He moved in and asked, “So what do you think my chances are of getting admitted to vet school?” I thought wow this guy is straight to the point. He wanted to know and had the guts to ask. I looked up from my notes and gave him the same smile smirk he gave me earlier. He responded in kind.
In that one hour I felt a kinship with Dakota. It felt genuine and I felt as if I knew him my entire life. That’s the kinds of person he was. Genuine, Kind, and likable.

I think I mentioned this was fall of 2010. Admissions to vet school is January and February. About 900 students apply and only about 90 get admitted. There are other variables in those numbers but I mention it because vet school is hard to get accepted into. Some say it is harder to get admitted to veterinary school than it is to medical school. A testament to Dakota’s academic prowess. Yes, he was smart!

Early spring of 2011, I saw Dakotas name on the “Congratulations! You have been admitted to WSU vet school” list. Soon after he received his letter, I received an email from Dakota thanking me and then he promptly reminded me that (in his own words) he was going to set the Vet World on fire! He did that and more.

My memories of Dakota are many. Like many of you, I am sure our stories all hold some of the same Dakota traits. Probably a story or two in there about a prank. Perhaps a few stories about an adventure. Most definitely we share stories of Dakota making us laugh. And probably a few more stories that are almost unbelievable unless you were there. So I will share one of those unbelievable stories…

…Summers on my place means river fun, rodeos, putting up hay, camp fires, family/friends, grilling, music, and cold beers. It was Summer of 2013. Dakota just finished 2nd year of vet school. And like previous summers, Dakota was once again first inline to help me with fencing, riding green horses, putting up hay, or whatever else needed done.

This time I called Dakota and asked him for help moving 800 small square bales of hay (60lbs bales). First question from Dakota was asking if they were grass or alfalfa bales of which I replied they were alfalfa so make sure you wear sleeves. Dakota shows up in shorts, a tang top, a big ol’ sun hat, and those boots!

No dummy, Dakota shows up with help. Jimmy Jurgielwicz. Fellow vet student. I fondly called these two Heckle and Jeckle after the cartoon about the two mischievous crows. No, Dakota didn’t work in his beach attire. He did that just to get a laugh and make things fun. He loved a good laugh and never missed the chance at a prank.

He promptly dressed up for hay and we got to work. This was early morning and about noon the temp was touching the century mark. 20 bales to go. Everything is moving along just fine until Dakota decides to use his head to push up a bale of which he misses and smashes his head on the top of his black gooseneck horse trailer.
Instant blood and pain. A big open gash. But no amount of blood and pain stopped Dakota from finishing up the last 20 bales. He was the epitome of a hard tough working guy of which I admired.

Stay with me, this story gets better…We hose down Dakota’s head to take a better look and realize he needs stitches. So what does an aspiring 3rd year vet student out of New Mexico carry in his pick up? Besides his pistol, knives, tools, used socks, oil, ammo….Yup, he is packing a suturing kit! (I don’t think he was allowed to have that outside of the vet school😀) Who needs a hospital when your fellow classmate can stitch ya right up?

It happened there on my deck in Lewiston, ID. Dakota reminded Jimmy that he better do a good job and that he needed three stitches. Not two but three. Jimmy told him he might change his mind after the first one.

Both Jimmy and Dakota then promptly started laughing because Jimmy had just failed suturing class and was on his second attempt at passing it. They both laughed hysterically. Picture this… Dakota sitting shirtless on my deck, my wife spotlighting Dakotas head helping Jimmy see better, Jimmy wearing a big sun hat with suturing kit in hand, Dakota biting down on a towel mumbling something, my kids running in and out of the house in disbelief, and me? What do I do? I crack open a cold one, fire up the grill and get burgers on. This is now a party!

Not 1 but 3 beautiful stitches later, along with some name calling from the patient, we were eating burgers. We went boating and swimming on the Snake River that afternoon. We swam and laughed. Dakota was so much fun to be around.

I failed to mention that Dakota was allergic to alfalfa. He never complained nor did he quit me nor did he let me know he was allergic. Tough, dedicated, loyal, great friend.

The legend of Dakota will forever live with me, with my children, and wife. In the Inzunza household we call it Dakota Tough! I coach my son’s hockey team and when someone fails to get up after a check to the board, internally I say, “C’mon now ya gotta be Dakota Tough!”

I have more stories…like the time he befriended a transient homeless fella on his way to the ski slopes. Or the time he messed with the entire vet administrators about his math class. Or the time he gave a speech in vet school and some were not too happy with him. Or the countless times he fished while at the same time studied for finals. Or the time he changed the fuel filter in my diesel 1 ton in the vetmed parking lot. Or the time…there are countless stories.

I lost touch with Dakota for a few years after he earned his DVM. Life takes us in different paths as we navigate this thing called life. No fault of his or mine. We reconnected a few years back. In these past years we had the most wonderful talks about all things life. I listened to a young man who above all loved his family, friends, community, kids, and his animals.

Love ya like a son Dakota. Forever with me. Dakota Tough!

Half-smile half-smirk,

~Miguel Inzunza

Questions about giving? Contact Lynne Haley or 509-335-5021.

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