David Robert Wetzell died at age 80 in December 2014 in Urbana.
His will left specific guidelines for establishing an animal shelter. It would be modeled after the Animal Welfare League of Clark County in Springfield, Ronald Tompkins, executor of Wetzell’s estate, told the Springfield News Sun.
Wetzell wanted the shelter to be established at a secluded farm in Champaign County, and also wanted it to be used as a pet cemetery, dog training facility, and rehabilitation home for unwanted pets.
According to his obituary, Wetzell “was an animal advocate” who also loved gardening, flowers, and antique cars.
“He thought about it and that was something that was greatly on his mind,” Tompkins said.
The shelter was later established on a secluded, 72-acre farm in the east part of the county.
“On this property there will be a preserve, a cemetery to spread ashes of lost pets, a training and rehabilitation facility as well as a main adoption facility. The property will also be accessible for members and will have trails, dog parks, and ponds where families, individuals and their pets can enjoy the secluded acreage and scenic views. There will also be picnic areas for members to enjoy a full days experience,” according to the website of the county’s Animal Welfare League.
“The dreams and visions of Mr. David Robert Wetzell are being brought to life and will be continued on for many years to come….”
Mona Willour Newcomer, who said she volunteers at the shelter, said that it’s a beautiful place.
“The animals are well cared for and neutered and fully vetted before they can be adopted,” she said via Facebook. “This shelter is an amazing legacy for a man who cared and put his money where his mouth is.”