Daniel Wallace Doherty, Jr, MD, has passed on. And he’s irreplaceable.
Dan was born at the time of magnolia blooms in Crowley, Louisiana on April 14, 1943. He adored his parents Marion Guidry and Dan Doherty, Sr, his dear siblings George, Diane, and Marion, and his heart was touched by the acceptance he felt from his childhood best friends: his dog Sam, his monkey Chi Chi and his calf Bully. As a confident young explorer Dan often ventured out, whether it was into the woods to hunt squirrels or into the gulf coast rice fields looking for – and finding – purple gallinules to bring home for the menagerie, so exotic!
If life is a river, Dan’s was meandering and seasonal, influenced by his insatiable curiosity, commitment to passion and desire to experience life at its edges. He lived in the moment, loved hard, and would try to make you love those things just as hard as he loved them. He was born to reflect the beauty all around.
He was a father, a husband, a trailblazing surgeon, a backcountry mountain man, a hunter, a pilot, a horseman, a first-rate musician and poet. A man of a million questions. He knew how to navigate rugged wilderness terrain and how to make a proper camp, a talent not to be underestimated. He cared deeply about little birds and studied them for hours on end. He was a brilliant learner, a top-of-the-class student of the ways of nature.
Dan was profoundly influenced by the unseen force of love and sought relationship and connection everywhere – with places, ideas, stories, wild animals. And people. He was shaped by them all. He knew how to pay attention to nuance, expertly perceiving all the inputs, and no matter who you are, if you knew the good doctor, you were aware of his impact on you.
Dan and Sheila Matte were high school sweethearts in Jennings and then together they fell in love with Idaho, often exploring the primitive area on horseback. Boy do they have some stories! Experts in high adventure and true love, they married each other twice (!) totaling 30 years and with great attention to not breaking wild spirits, they raised their wild bunch of six Doherty children who proudly carry on the love of adventure and deep connection with Idaho.
Dan may have been born in Louisiana but a special place in Idaho called Slate Creek truly gave him life, so when he met his beloved Linda Chapman in Kansas it wasn’t long before he asked her to move to Idaho with him. He married Linda on January 1, 2002 on a point overlooking their farm on the river. Linda and Dan tenderly wove their lives together at Slate Creek, caring for each other and a variety of animals, including feral grandchildren who especially loved Slate Creek adventures.
We can’t tell you about Dan without mentioning his most special horse companions Flash, Tomboy, Blue, Dibbs, and his pal Lonesome Dove. We can’t not mention that Dan believed good music was as important as a good meal – and that the way you prepare it is everything. He was a high order storyteller and jokester and, if he wasn’t careful, could veer off into real son of a bitch territory at times. Dan could just as easily crack a bullwhip as a good joke with a wink, making you jump and laugh and forget yourself.
Dan is survived by Linda, his wife of 20 years, his sister Marion (Broussard) and brother George, former wife Sheila and their six children Dana (Mark Menlove), Daniel (Jennifer Conklin), Seth, Sariah (Stephen Horel), Jonas, and Juliana (Ben McLenna), and nine grandchildren.
Immense gratitude to each of you who were true friends to Dan over his 79 years. He loved you so and spoke of you often, know that.
Our love, our father, our grandfather, our inspiration for being led by curiosity and love, died peacefully on May 9, 2022 surrounded by loved ones at his home in Star, Idaho. But this flame won’t be extinguished. This is just the part where he is set free, ever-present, forevermore.
• We will celebrate his beautiful life and death with a wake on the Salmon River when the sun is high in August, and you can expect to see a headstone for him at John Day Cemetery north of Riggins, Idaho.