Longtime California Vet Dr. William "Bill" Nissen Passes Away
RELEASE: April 17, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By West Coast Active Riders
Occasionally a story comes along that is worth telling, no matter how many tears it takes to write it. This is one of those stories, dear to our heart and the hearts of thousands of show jumping enthusiasts on the West Coast, as well as across this nation. It is information that people who loved this man would want to know and the family has asked for it to be sent along.
Dr. William “Bill” Nissen passed away on Sunday night at his ranch in Sheridan, CA, after spending one of ‘those’ days that, to a horseman, was just as he would want it at the end of his life—peaceful and doing what he loved the best.
Eighty-one years old, Bill got up Sunday morning and did what he loved doing the very best—he went to the racetrack! His attention was focused on a seven-year-old Thoroughbred named Touchdown, USC, that he watched gallop and work that morning. He did that just about every morning that he could and Sunday was a delightful, beautiful California spring day, perfect for a horseman to watch his horses gallop.
This particular morning, Bill also went to the Stewards Office at Bay Meadows and finished the requirements for the California Thoroughbred Associations RaceTrack Vet License. Planning on working at the track, he was excited that his license was granted, opening the way for him to be ‘official.’ Never one to sit idle, he was thrilled to get back to work at the track. Even though he had been practicing veterinary medicine in Northern California, his wish was to get back to the track.
He returned to his family ranch in Sheridan, CA, where he had his favorite dinner, including artichokes and a dessert of his favorite strawberries and cream. The evening was spent watching his favorite TV series, CSI Miami
, and he read the rule manual for the California Racing Association vets, cover to cover. Off and on, he snoozed but would wake up occasionally, as usual, and talk to his oldest daughter, Corby, who was staying with him, and herself snoozing on the couch. A typical Sunday evening.
Normally this evening ritual would end when Dr. Nissen would wake up and nudge Corby to help him to bed. Tonight he just sat in his favorite chair and watched CSI
and read his manual. At about 4:15 a.m. on Monday, Corby woke up and looked at her dad who was peacefully sitting in his chair with the manual still on his lap. She realized he was gone.
Right up to the end, Bill was out doing what he loved, injecting hocks last week, looking at a lameness, checking on clients and friends horses. Going to the racetrack, eating what he loved and being surrounded by his family on the ranch in Northern California that had been in the family for over 125 years. Bill was raised there, his father was raised there and his grandfather was raised there. His daughter, Lindsey, has her training business there, and Corby lives on the place.
He died peacefully in his sleep of congestive heart failure after spending a day doing all of the things he loved best. He is survived by his wife, Twinkie; his children Corby, Lindsey, Karine and Brian. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter Wendy.
Services will be Monday, April 21, at noon at the Lincoln Funeral Home in Lincoln, CA, and then a celebration of all of Dr. William ‘Bill’ Nissen’s dreams will be held at the family ranch in Sheridan. The memorial service and the get-together at the ranch will be themed ‘Bill’s final Run for the Roses.’ The Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln is the closest hotel for those wishing to attend, and the family ranch is only seven miles from there.
The Bill Nissen Fund, in care of the family, has been set up in his honor and will be earmarked for the American Heart Association, to help defray the final costs of his life and to get that racehorse to its first return race, Bill’s dream. Bill called this horse ‘The Come Back Kid’ and wanted to live long enough to see it