GoFundMe raises $27,000 for grieving family of Aimee Shemwell

Aimee and Spencer Shemwell with their four children. Courtesy photo/Spencer Shemwell

Aimee Shemwell, 29, of Linden, died in a vehicle collision in Front Royal on Monday. Her husband, Spencer, and their four children survived, although she was pregnant at the time and the baby could not be saved.

A fellow member of their church, Woodstock author Jason Wright, did what he could to take the financial burden off the Shemwell family by launching a GoFundMe campaign to help cover funeral and medical expenses.

“(Spencer’s) going to have to get back out there, and get to work and provide, and get child care for kids,” Wright said. “The more help we get him, the longer he has to make decisions about his future and what it’s going to be like.”

After two days, the campaign raised upwards of $27,000 from more than 360 donors.

“I’ve just been in awe of the response for the GoFundMe,” said Bishop Randall Bartlett. “I can tell you that from conversations with the family, they are overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude. A little bewildered at how many desire to assist them.”

Bartlett has known Aimee since she joined his Front Royal church in December 2000. She served as president of the primary organization, worked with children ages 3 to 12. Bartlett described her as “fun, and at the same time very practical.”

“She was so self-deprecating in such a pleasant, fun way,” Bartlett said. “For example, she would say, ‘Well, you know that I look like a 14-year-old.’ But she’s a mom with four kids and already pregnant (again).”

Aimee was a stay-at-home-mom, caring for the children while Spencer ran his carpentry business. But the two didn’t operate separately — they made business decisions together.

“They were a team. They saw their business as being their business,” Bartlett said.

“He didn’t do anything without being linked up with her,” Wright said. “Every major decision, and jobs that they took and contracts, she was very intimately involved in the business. They were really kind of teammates and partners in every way you can imagine.”

In 2016, Wright was producing a book, “A Letter to Mary,” which took the form of an imagined letter from Jesus to Mary, and Wright needed models for the photos in the story.

He knew the Shemwells from church. They got to talking and Wright became convinced that he wanted Aimee’s expected baby, who would be named Bexley, to model baby Jesus, even though it meant delaying production by a month and a half.

Spencer was cast in the role of Joseph, and Wright’s daughter played Mary.

“Here’s this 17-year-old girl pretending to be married to Aimee’s husband. It was fun. Aimee was such a great sport, teasing her about it,” Wright recalled. “Aimee was just an incredibly trusting and faithful person.”

The first shoot took place in a barn just two and a half days after Bexley was born.

“We literally were walking through manure, and around chickens, and llamas, and alpacas, and lambs, ultimately, to take those photos when the baby was just a couple days old,” Wright said.

Since the crash, Wright announced he would rededicate the book to Aimee and donate future proceeds to the family.

“They just were the warmest, kindest, most just genuine and honest people you could imagine. Their marriage was like the most remarkable friendship,” Wright said. “I like the phrase ‘equally yoked.’ And that’s what they were. Just complete partners in everything they did.”

The funeral will be held 3 p.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at 7145 Browntown Road in Front Royal.

Those wishing to contribute to the Shemwell GoFundMe campaign can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/aimee-shemwell-memorial-fund.