Kaitlyn Snell

Obituary of Kaitlyn Snell

Kaitlyn Ryann Snell, age 12 of Saucier, our blessing, our mystery, our beautiful girl was born on her great-grandmother’s birthday, December 14, 2005, and left her earthly journey on July 6, 2018.


She was preceded in death by her maternal great-grandparents, RH “Pop/Bill” and Verna Mae “Bunny” Dambrino, Sr. of Gulfport, MS, and Clifford and Velma Spivey of Biloxi, MS; her paternal great-grandparents, Wendell and Virginia Moore of Texas and David A. Snell of Echo, AL.; honorary uncle, Darrel R. Spivey of Gulfport, MS; and Master Oogway of China, from the movie Kung Fu Panda.


Kaitlyn is survived by her parents, James and Theresa Snell; her sister, Samantha Snell; her nephew, Greyson James; and her dog, “Pepper Ann.”  On her maternal side, she is survived by her grandparents, Paul and Connie Spivey; her aunts and uncles, Tony Spivey, Dawn Spivey, and Paula and Chris Lacoste; her fur cousins; and cousins, Logan and Morgan. On her paternal side, she is survived by her great-grandmother, Suzie Snell ; her grandparents, Roger and Louise Snell; her aunts and uncles, Tina and Chris Penick and Thomas and Tiffani Snell; and cousins, Christina, Christian, and Chandler Snell, Ashlee Pennick and Gregg Mann and  their 5 children; and Jessica L. Penick. Kaitlyn is also survived by her animated family, Po and the Furious Five; honorary family, her Godfather, Ryan Robinson; and Kathi Goodwin and Tami Hudson, our angels on earth.


Kaitlyn’s entire life has been about therapies, doctor appointments, tests, blood work, surgeries, IV’s, and lots of boring car rides.  Through it all, except the long car rides that she did not like, she was a warrior and did amazing.  We never really knew what she was thinking because she couldn’t talk, but we probably didn’t want to know.  Through all of the trials and tribulations including the long rides, late nights, hospital stays, and too many other obstacles to mention, there was always this big guy and his five furious friends to make her laugh. 


For the last ten years of her life, Kaitlyn continuously watched the movie, “Kung Fu Panda.”  She would laugh at the same parts every time, year after year, even after watching the movie hundreds of times.  We have always wondered if she’s laughing because she remembers that part or if it’s her seeing it for the first time. “Po” over the years became what we like to say and think was her BFF. She LOVED that Panda! He could comfort her when we couldn’t, wake her from a sound sleep in fits of giggles (yes I’m serious). We head out the door, normal routine “Diapers, wipes, rescue meds, extra clothes, Kung Fu Panda!”


There are so many unanswered questions with our precious girl.  How much of what we said did she comprehend and understand?  She was able to communicate some of her needs and wants.  When she was uncomfortable or agitated, she would grunt… so loud you could hear her through the house.  When she cried or whined and tears were involved, we knew she was in pain “somewhere” but many times didn’t know where on her little body that it hurt. We knew that she enjoyed having her hand rubbed because she would raise her hand up, expecting it to be rubbed.  She enjoyed receiving sugars and having sweet words whispered into her ear.  Because she had so many lines coming from her body, she couldn’t take a typical bath, but boy did she love having her hair washed in the little plastic, blow-up hair basin.  It usually soothed her… you could almost hear her purring with contentment. 


Along with our own personal unanswered questions, her many complicated and complex health situations contributed to challenging her many doctors, including those at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.  The complexity of her many issues warranted many meetings between her team of doctors to try to create a plan of care that would meet all of her needs.  Several of the doctors have commented by saying that she was one of their most difficult cases. Hopefully, the knowledge that they gained in working with Kaitlyn will help them treat children similar to her in the future.


We can’t mention the medical staff in our sweet girl’s life without bringing up Kaitlyn’s nurses, both in the hospital and at home. The care that a patient receives from a nurse can greatly impact the experience that you have in a hospital and in our case, at home.  We have been fortunate enough that Kaitlyn has been treated by kind, knowledgeable, and cooperative nurses, mostly.  The nurses on the third floor at NOLA Children’s Hospital provided as good of an environment as we could have wanted in the situation that we were in with our girl.  We were like family with them.  It didn’t take long for them to acclimate to Kaitlyn’s mom’s humorous/crazy ways and her dad’s expectations.  Many nights were spent with silly jokes and shenanigans, just to make the most of what was, on many occasions, a very scary and exhausting stay.  I repaid these wonderful caregivers by providing pizza and wearing fun t-shirts that they could enjoy reading. The nurses were not only friendly and fun-loving but very skilled at their job.  They had to be to take care of our girl… she definitely kept them on their toes!


Not only have the nurses at the hospital made a huge impact on our lives, but our latest nurse, Tami, has basically been Kaitlyn’s other mom for the last year.  Tami has taken excellent care of Kaitlyn and is a superb example of how documentation should be handled.  She has helped and relieved so many of the everyday stresses that go with taking care of a severely disabled child and loved Kaitlyn as though she were her own.


There are too many people to thank for all of the love and support that Kaitlyn has received on this amazing journey of her life.  We want to first thank our family and many friends for the continued support throughout Kaitlyn’s life.  We’d also like to thank the staff at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, the Nebraska Transplant Center, members of 85th Engineering Installation Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base and our home health nurse, Tami.  Ainsley’s Angels deserves a big shout-out for giving our girl an opportunity to be a part of something so incredibly special.  She was able to “run” her first race because of your program. Thank you to all of the organizers and runners that dedicate their time to give opportunities to those with special needs. A big thanks goes out to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for building a wonderful playground for Kaitlyn many years ago. Thank you to Gateway United Methodist Church for letting us have our funeral service and reception at their church. We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Riemann Family Funeral Home for the kindness and compassion expressed through the loss of our precious angel, from their gentleness of picking her up at our house to accommodating our wishes for Kaitlyn’s burial decisions.



In lieu of flowers, the family ask that donations be made to Ainsley’s Angels at crowdrise.com or mailed to Ainsley’s Angels at P.O. Box 177, Ocean Springs, MS, 39566.


A celebration of Kaitlyn’s life will be at 4PM on Thursday, July 12, 2018, at Gateway United Methodist Church on Highway 49 in Lyman with a visitation for family and friends from 2PM until the service.  A reception will be held after the service in the fellowship hall.


RIEMANN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, 11280 Three Rivers Road, Gulfport, is serving the family. An online obituary may be viewed and condolences and photos shared at www.riemannfamily.com