Shani Alena Williams (née Gilbert), age 33, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 7th at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL. The events that led to her passing were sudden and unexpected. Shani had lived in Gainesville with her spouse, Jason L. Williams, and two cats for four years, but is originally from Wilmington, DE. She was born in Newark, DE to Ellen and Ralph Gilbert on December 30th, 1986. Shani had been in a loving partnership with Jason since April 27th, 2008, and they were married on April 27th, 2018—exactly 10 years later—in Gainesville.
Shani earned a B.S. in Conservation and Wildlife Management from Delaware Valley University (Doylestown, PA) in 2009. She had a way with animals and loved them all dearly, especially birds and cats. From 2008 to 2010, she volunteered and worked at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research (Newark, DE). In 2012, she became a veterinary technician at Hockessin Animal Hospital. She later decided to leave her Hockessin family in 2016 to move with Jason to Gainesville and support him through his PhD program at University of Florida. Upon arriving in Gainesville, she immediately found a vet tech position at Millhopper Veterinary Hospital and became a part of the Millhopper family until her death. She was loved and respected by co-workers and clients at both Hockessin and Millhopper.
Shani is survived by her spouse (Jason L. Williams), mother (Ellen Gilbert), sister (Kalila Gilbert), brother (Rafi Gilbert), and two cats (Isis and Maisie). She was preceded in death by her father (Ralph Gilbert), who passed away in 1994.
A virtual memorial service will be held Wednesday October 14, 2020 from 12:00 Noon until 3:00 pm to celebrate her life and the positive impact she had on the lives of others. Her Millhopper family is planting a crepe myrtle in front of Millhopper Veterinary Medical Center in her honor and memory. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark, Delaware in her honor.
In 2016, a Southeast Asian species of ant was named Prenolepis shanialena in her honor by Jason. Shani saved three lives through organ donation.