Träume sind dazu da, um verwirklicht zu werden.
– Dreams are there to be realized.
It is with deep sadness that we report that Dr. Wencke du Plessis passed away unexpectedly on June 3, 2020. Family and friends alike find it hard to believe that someone with such enthusiasm for life could be gone so suddenly but she will live on in the hearts of all who knew her.
Wencke will be remembered as a wonderful, kind, and loving person; a devoted mother to Abigail and Vincent and wife to Albert; and an outstanding veterinarian and teacher. With unending enthusiasm for her work, strong opinions, and a contagious smile, she grabbed every opportunity and had a big heart for friends, family, colleagues, and students alike. Her passion for diagnostic imaging, traveling, and teachingresulted in many accomplishments and she left her mark across three continents.
Wencke was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. She obtained her Veterinary Medicine degree from the Free University of Berlin and early on spread her wings beyond Germany as an exchange student.A scholarship enabled her to obtain her German doctoral dissertation (Dr. med. vet.) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where she also continued her specialization and became a South African [MMedVet (Diagnostic Imaging)] & European imaging specialist (DipECVDI) in 2003.
She worked as an Associate Professor in Diagnostic Imaging at the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science as well as in private practice. In South Africa she was able to indulge her long-standing interest in nondomestic species, publishing papers on exotic species such as ostriches, red pandas, lions, cheetahs, and common marmosets.
In 2010, Wencke moved with her family to St Kitts to set up the Diagnostic Imaging Department at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Wencke’s impassionate and dynamic style was greatly appreciated by the hundreds of students she taught and the colleagues and other veterinarians she encountered. She inspired many of them with her expertise, commitment, and love for diagnostic imaging. She stayed connected with the German veterinary world and authored the book “Sono-Grundkurs für Tiermediziner” in 2014. This book reflects her passion for ultrasonography and her eagerness to teach and inspire veterinarians.
At work, Wencke was happiest when she was working with exotic animals performing diagnostic imaging procedures. Her presentations on studies about exotic animals and teaching at several EVDI/IVRA meetings were not only scientifically of a high standard but also always entertaining. She was an associate editor of the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. She finished her PhD on CT of the thorax and abdomen of the common marmoset in 2015.
In 2019, she accepted a new challenge starting as an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada and enjoyed helping with imaging at Calgary Zoo.
Whether watching wildlife in the South African bush or exploring the north American wilderness, Wencke loved being outdoors. She was always physically active, and she successfully completed several marathons and even an Ironman. She loved hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and skiing as well as traveling with Albert and their wonderful children. She was in her element when she was outdoors, exposing family, friends, and colleagues to the wonders of the world. She was also a gifted artist but never too busy to dedicate time to her children and Albert. She was an amazing mother and so proud of Abigail and Vincent. She would literally beam when talking about them with that contagious smile and the twinkle in her eyes.
Whether in her academic, sporting, or personal life, Wencke achieved at the highest levels, and was truly an inspiration to many. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her both privately and professionally. A memorial website has been set up where Wencke’s colleagues and friends can find more information and leave a tribute.
H. Mark Saunders