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Doc Stocker dies at age 87 - Albia Newspapers: News

Doc Stocker dies at age 87

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Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 11:46 am

By DAVE PAXTON

Editor and Publisher

Dr. Dean Stocker never strayed too far from Monroe County, although Uncle Sam sent him to Korea and he and his wife, Mary, wintered in Florida in the last few years of his retirement. But his reach as a humanitarian stretched to all four corners of the earth. “Doc” Stocker died on Thursday morning at the age of 87, suffering from heart and kidney problems.

His funeral was Monday at Trinity United Methodist Church, a place that helped him reach from Albia into Africa with his support of the Heifer Project International, a mission outreach that brought breeding stock into desperately poor parts of African nations. In recent years, he and Mary had also embraced Rotary Club water projects in Africa.

However, his greatest world outreach was his involvement in Rotary Club’s Polio Plus project that effectively eradicated polio on the planet. A 50-year member of Rotary, Stocker was one of the earliest advocates of the program and had the Albia Rotary Club as one of the strongest contributors among clubs in Iowa.

At his funeral, led by Pastor Lynda Carlson (Trinity Pastor Roger George is on a mission trip), there was far more laughter than tears, remembering the country veterinarian.

Dean Stocker reached into many areas of the community, as a veterinarian for 33 years, as a Korean War veteran, as a Rotarian, as a school board member, as a member of the Monroe County Historical Society, as an Iowa State University alumni, as an avid supporter of the Welcome Home Soldier Memorial and as a lifetime member of the Iowa and American Veterinary Association.

He was named to the Albia Community School’s Wall of Fame, the Albia Hall of Fame and the Monroe County Farm Bureau Ag Hall of Fame, one of only a handful of people to be honored by all three groups.

The one thing often missing from his resume was “Master Story Teller.” The fact that there wasn’t a farmer in Monroe County Doc didn’t know, or that he came from one of the most eclectic families in the county, or the fact that he knew almost everyone else in Albia because of his association with Trinity UMC, Rotary, the school board or had treated a family dog or cat, gave him enough material to spin yarns all day.

The fact that he used a lariat rope in the middle of a pasture to do the work that modern vets save for hydraulic chutes in custom built barns, created a background of a man viewing agriculture from horse-drawn plows through the Green Revolution and cross breeding livestock for vigor into the farm crisis of the 80’s and beyond.

“This old boy,” Doc would begin as he weaved a tale of farmer, a stray pig and a neighbor’s fence. Pretty soon he would have whoever was listening in tears. His stories of raising two teenage boys behind three daughters, often times with oldest son, Dan, grinning next to him, could have been assembled and published into a parenting self-help book.

The last living of five brothers, Doc would always refer to his siblings like they were part of a monastery…Brother Daryl…Brother C.J….Brother Paul….Brother Floyd. None, not even Doc, was a member of a monastery.

And there are those who would chip in with stories about Doc, particularly as Albia’s number one cheerleader when Dan and Norm played together on a couple of great Blue Demon basketball teams in the mid-80s, or as witnesses to his brute strength in handling an ornery bull. And then there were his Subaru station wagons he used in his vet practice instead of a traditional 4WD pick-up with a specialized veterinarian’s bed. If you saw a maroon Subaru coming down a gravel road in Monroe County, covered in a cloud of dust you could absolutely bet it wasn’t a yuppie visitor from Seattle. It was Doc getting someplace fast to fix a prolapsed uterus on a cow.

The voice, the gap-tooth grin, the Red Skelton laugh at himself is gone. But the stories Dean Stocker told and his life well lived will go on for years to come.

© 2017 Albia Newspapers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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