Paint horse pioneer dies at 89

Dr. Lyle “Doc” Wonderlich
Dr. Lyle “Doc” Wonderlich

Paint horse pioneer Dr. Lyle “Doc” Wonderlich, of Twin Falls, Idaho, has died at the age of 89.

Wonderlich lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease on Sunday, December 30.

A longtime member, national director and the 1989 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, Doc and his wife, Wilma June “Butch,” were both inducted into the American Paint Horse Association Hall of Fame in October.

In 2011 A prominent hallway in the APHA headquarters was designated the Wonderlich Hallway, honoring Doc and Butch Wonderlich.

Devoted to the Paint Horse community, Doc and Butch have been mainstays in APHA since the association’s founding in 1962. Together, the couple operated Roseacre Farm; owned and showed top horses like Nightwatcher, APHA’s first Supreme Champion gelding; and raised seven children. Their dedication to APHA regional clubs included numerous service positions, and Butch served as the association’s first female president in 1980.

He is a past President and director of the Idaho Paint Horse Association, as well as past Vice-President of the Idaho Quarter Horse Association, director of the Idaho Horse Council and a member of the Back Country Horsemen.

Doc’s passion for Paint Horses extended to the Youth Development Fund and Heritage Foundation (now the American Paint Horse Foundation).

Doc was born February 24, 1923 in Kansas. He attended school in a one-room rural school house during grades one through eight, riding his pony to school during the lower grades and later his horse, Molly. He graduated from the Alton Kansas High School as Valedictorian of his class in 1941. He received his pre-medical education at the University of Kansas and Yale University.

He served in the Army Medical Corps from 1943-1945, and graduated from the University of Kansas Medical School in 1947.

He married Butch on June 17, 1947, and they travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Doc was to serve a rotating internship at the University of Utah.

After completing his internship, Doc and Butch set up a general practice in Osborne, Kansas. He also enlisted in the US Army Air Force Medical Corps in 1951, and served as Chief of the Anesthesia Department at Keesler Air Force Base Hospital, Biloxi, Mississippi, until 1952.

The couple later moved to Twin Falls, Idaho, where Doc practiced anesthesiology. He received his certification from the American College of Anesthesia in 1955. He became a Diplomat of the American Board of Anesthesiology in 1957.

He retired from anesthesiology in 1995 at the age of 72.

Doc was a Master Mason in Twin Falls Lodge #45. He became a 33° Inspector General Honorary November 3, 2007, in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Orient of Idaho. He was active in the Southern Idaho Learning Center of the Scottish Rite, serving for 18 years on the Management Board.

He was also an active member of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension for 58 years, serving as a Lay Reader and Eucharistic Minister.

Doc is survived by his wife, Butch, seven children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 5, at 2pm at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Twin Falls, Idaho.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Paint Horse Heritage Foundation (P. O. Box 961023, Ft. Worth, TX 76161) or Church of the Ascension Altar Guild (371 Eastland Dr. N, Twin Falls, ID 83301).




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