Ponoka Stampede’s Gary ‘Doc’ Harbin passed away after a losing battle with cancer. Doc died peacefully in his home surrounded by friends and family. Facebook photo

Ponoka Stampede’s Gary ‘Doc’ Harbin passes away

Doc lost his five year battle with cancer but was surrounded by friends and family

In the early morning hours of March 9, Ponoka Stampede director Gary ‘Doc’ Harbin passed away at the age of 73 peacefully in his Ponoka home among family and friends after a five year battle with colorectal cancer.

Outpourings of support have flowed to the family, explained son Bruce Harbin.

“It was a long hard battle,” said Bruce.

“He was able to find peace at home and he was kind of sleeping for the last few days. And he just fell off.”

His passing comes just weeks after being inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, something Bruce is grateful his father was able to witness and speak to.

The response from friends and residents has been overwhelming, said Bruce, which he attributes to Doc being a genuine man of his words.

“He’s a cowboy. And he’s fair and honest and he lives by the code of the west.”

Indeed, Doc dedicated his life to the promotion of Ponoka’s biggest stage, the Ponoka Stampede, and his hard work helped put the town and the rodeo on the international map. Ponoka is considered a prime stop on the rodeo circuit in North America.

In August 2014 Doc was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. In January 2015 Doc underwent surgery to remove a portion of his colon. However, the cancer then spread to his liver. The next January Doc had an additional surgery to remove the mass from his liver.

There was a lot of hope after that, said Bruce as Doc was taking chemotherapy treatment every three weeks. The cancer wasn’t going away but it wasn’t getting ahead of him either.

Things were going well until a heart attack hit Doc in August 2018.

Bruce remembers that day like it was yesterday. It was the Friday morning of the August long-weekend. Bruce was at the Olds Hospital being prepped for a shoulder surgery to be scheduled later on.

He then was on his way home at around noon when he received a call from Doc asking how his morning went. Bruce told him and then Doc explained how his day went. “He said, ‘I have one better story.’”

Doc went out that morning to feed the horses some oats when he had serious heart pains and was clutching his chest. The next thing he knew Doc was being taken to the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre to be taken by STARS Air Ambulance for surgery.

Doc woke up with two stents in him to deal with the heart attack. Bruce will never forget what Doc said next.

“In that classic Doc Harbin chuckle with that shit-eating grin and he says, ‘You do me a favour. You tell that Joe Dodds that I got more work done before lunch than he ever will,’” stated Bruce. “That’s how Doc told me about his heart attack”

This is exactly how Doc lived his life but for Bruce it’s bitter sweet. “I think the heart troubles did him in. It was a dirty trick.”

For now the family is dealing with the loss of a father and brother.

“It’s all pretty fresh but my dad and I were really close and we had a good father son relationship,” said Bruce.

“I’ve always been able to hear his voice in the back of my head on every decision I make.”

One thing the entire family is grateful for is the strong outpouring of support. “He’s going to be missed by lots of people and probably no more than me and my sister.”

 

Ponoka Stampede’s Gary ‘Doc’ Harbin passed away after a losing battle with cancer. Doc died peacefully in his home surrounded by friends and family. File photo

Ponoka Stampede’s Gary ‘Doc’ Harbin passed away after a losing battle with cancer. Doc died peacefully in his home surrounded by friends and family. File photo

Just Posted

Central Alberta livestock spring farm forecast

Alberta spring beef market looks steady, producers faring well

Supporters rally for Jason Kenney as UCP leader stops in Red Deer

Kenney promises equalization reform, stopping ‘Trudeau-Notley’ payroll hike, trade, economic mobility

The Millet Curling Club dates back to 1925

By 1936 Millet needed a bigger curling rink

Pecan Slice an easy and tasty dessert treat

If you like Italian, you’ll love Easy Manicotti

Encompass Credit Union AGM includes generous community donations

Credit union donations topped $25K in Wetaskiwin region

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Most Read