Mother and daughter veterinarians killed instantly in a head-on accident last week are being remembered as kind and compassionate and willing to help anyone.
Diane Defenbaugh, 61, and her daughter Kate, 29, died after the driver of GMC Yukon lost control and drove across State Route 125 on Aug. 13. The pair was on the way to SeaWorld to celebrate Kate’s birthday.
Friends and family held a memorial Friday at St. Patrick’s Church in North Park in their honor.
“We were blessed to have the time that we spent with them, and we're always going to remember them in the best way possible,” said Diane’s brother-in-law Mark Malartsik. “One of the slogans Diane had was, ‘Ride the wave, feel the rush,’ and that's how she kind of embraced life.”
Malartsik said Diane moved to San Diego from Illinois 37 years ago to become a veterinarian. She worked at VCA Angel Animal Hospital in North Park.
Kate followed in her mother’s footsteps and was a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Chula Vista.
Malartsik said Diane Defenbaugh was always caring, always the one who remembered birthdays and anniversaries. He said her parents were both legally blind, and she was a matriarch of sorts for her three siblings.
Malartsik, his wife and three daughters had recently paid a visit to San Diego in July.
“I remember when I was leaving. I gave her a hug and said goodbye. I just said thanks for all you do for my family. That's who she was. She just always took care of everybody,” he said.
The family plans to bury the two in Illinois, near Diane’s parents.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Canine Companions for Independence.