Dr. Dee Thornell untold truth: Family tragedy opened veterinary doors.

Coming from the time when women were supposed to become housewives, Dr. Dee Thornell went on to choose a professional path as veterinarian. Many years later now she is firmly established and owns an animal health care facility in Fairbanks Alaska. She also starred in two seasons of the reality television show ” Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet.” In this article, we will explore the unheard facts of Dr. Dee Thornell.

Family tragedy opened veterinary doors

Dr. Dee Thornell was close to her older brother Richard “Dickie” Thornell who became the source of inspiration for her veterinarian career. The family patriarch and her father Leonard Thornell wanted to see his only son as a veterinary doctor. Like a good son, Richard showed interest in veterinary medicine and would often spend time by the veterinary clinic on the way to his school. Although keen to pursue he was not good in his studies, especially in maths. Later when the country came calling his former marine father encouraged Richard to join the army. What returned was misery and the sad truth, the death of his only son. Richard died in the Vietnam war in 1967, at the young age of 20.

Dr Dee Thornell
Alaska-based veterinarian Dr. Dee Thornell

The little sister, who had nothing but love for her brother, life turned upside down. One thing positive that came out of tragedy was a wish to fulfill her brother’s dream. She said in an interview; “After he died it was something unspeakable that pulled me to the field of veterinary medicine.”

After the tragedy, Dr. Thornell was raised in the country setting of Benzonia, Michigan. There she grew her affinity towards horses as her father would buy her horses or any animals as long as she pursued veterinary studies.

Dr. Dee Thornell married for the second time.

Dr. Thornell’s first husband is Chuck Sanderson. The two were married for seven years and had a son Jesse Sanderson. She learned about hunting from Chuck and would involve in different outdoor activities. She would also help him with animals on his ranch.

Dr Dee Thornell Alaska Vet Husband
Dr. Dee Thornell and her husband, Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenneth R. Rodriguez is her second husband. They met in 2005 and two years later the couple took the marriage vows in 2007. Kenneth is very supportive and has been part of her adventure in veterinary remote calls.

Ken is also a licensed pilot and convinced Dr. Thornell to take flying lessons. She finally learned how to fly planes and took her solo flight on December 7, 2013. In addition to professional endeavors, the pair likes to spend time in outdoors. Together they built a log cabin in the Hills of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Age is just the number for the lovers

Dr. Dee Thornell was born on July 29, 1958. The birthdate makes her 64 years of age. As the appearance suggests, Kenneth is younger in age. If we dwell on the facts, Kenneth is 13 years younger than Dr. Thornell. Kenneth was born on February 11, 1972.

Dr Dee Thornell and her husband Kenneth Rodriguez
Dr.Dee Thornell and her husband Kenneth Rodriguez

Dr. Dee came to Alaska with a boyfriend.

Dr. Dee Thornell graduated from the Michigan State University of Veterinary Medicine in 1981. After graduation she worked at Waverly Animal Hospital in Lansing, Michigan where her then boyfriend, an emergency room doctor was doing his residency. After completion, he started practice in Fairbanks, Alaska, and asked if Dee wanted to go along with him, which she did and came to Alaska in 1982. Eventually the pair separated while her ex-boyfriend returned she ended up staying. Dr. Dee eventually opened her Animal health practice. Currently, she owns and runs an 11,000 square-foot facility which includes Animal House Veterinary Hospital, Noah’s Ark, and Muttessori School for Dogs.

More Facts on Dr. Dee Thornell

  • She was born Deanna Thornell in Ohio, U.S.
  • She is the youngest of four siblings from her parents
  • When she was ten years of age, she moved from Kalamazoo to Beulah, Michigan with her family.
  • Her first horse wass Tuffy after passing she buried on her family farm.
  • She attended Benzie Central High School
  • She was Couples Champion for bodybuilding in 1995 and Ms. Alaska in 1996.

Wiki/Bio Facts:

Full nameDeanna Thornell
Age64 years old
Date of BirthJuly 29, 1958
Place of BirthOhio, United States
High SchoolBenzie Central High School
CollegeMichigan State University of Veterinary Medicine
ProfessionTelevision Personality, Veterinarian
Net worth$2.5 million
Marital StatusMarrie
HusbandKenneth Rodriguez (m.2007-present)
Ex-husbandChuck Sanderson
Children Jesse James Sanderson
Zodiac SignLeo
ParentsLeonard Thornell and Geraldine Thornell
SiblingsJerrie, Pam, and Richard Thornell. 


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