June 12, 1953-Aug. 31, 2019

Ennis, Montana

On Saturday, August 31, 2019, John “Doc” Alan Dochnahl, loving husband and father of two, passed away at the age of 66.

John was born on June 12, 1953, in Madison, WI, to Joan and William Dochnahl. He was the third of five siblings and the first big eater of the family; “Give it to John; he’ll eat it.” He received his forestry degree from the University of Wisconsin, and fled west for quiet spaces and fire lines with the Forest Service. Doc landed in Dubois, ID, where he met Janet Bean. On June 17, 1978, they married and moved north to the big city of Ennis, MT, where they raised two children, Jesse and Megan -- whom Doc loved, enjoyed, and admired so greatly -- along with numerous burros, thousands of chickens, and a garden worthy of annual neighborhood envy. With his pregnant wife doing the heavy lifting, Doc dug out a full basement from underneath their already-built log home, one five gallon bucket at a time.

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After his tenure as a timber specialist, wildland fire sawyer, and lumber yard manager, Doc found his calling when he hung out his shingle for Doc’s General Service. He became the expert for everything under the Madison Valley’s wind-blown sun, from growing potatoes, building and renovating houses, running shirtless miles in daringly short shorts, launching a youth soccer league, earning a Taekwon-Do black belt alongside Jesse, knowing the daily Wall Street reports, dressing an elk in subzero temps in a creek, packing burros and children into the mountains, maintaining an ice rink, and attempting to outsmart urban deer raiding the garden. All of these were a testament to how hard he worked at being the best father and provider he could possibly be. Less about being a father and more about expressing his uniqueness, he also flaunted every “hot” color of lycra tights he could get his hands on. Doc took fashion cues from no one.

Doc was a master teacher and collaborator who shared his profound riches of curiosity, creativity, frugality, intense caring, and pragmatism. We were fortunate to learn many valuable lessons, among them: never throw away anything, especially old socks, they will be good for something. We also learned that “a poke in the eye with a sharp stick” was not actually on the menu, and that we “didn’t lick that off the grass.” Don’t leave home without your trusty fanny pack stocked with a peanut butter sandwich, an emergency blanket, a map of the Cook Islands, and a pair of old socks. Rarely has anyone dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s for work, love, and joy as reliably as Doc. The world is a better place thanks to his passion for family, sustainability, wild places; his impressive tool collection; and his devotion and attention to his elder neighbors and clients. To them he gave the most valuable gift of all: his time.

Doc’s love and energy is carried on by his wife, Janet; son Jesse (Caitlin) of Missoula; daughter Megan (Jon) Beard and their children Addison and new little Carver of Polson; siblings Marie, Mark, Mike, Jim, and Annie; several nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless friends.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Madison Valley Medical Center.

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