Gary “Doc” Thrasher D.V.M. was awarded the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Lifetime Member Award at the 116th Summer Annual Convention in August 2020
Pictured below L - R : Dr. Thrasher, Ruth Evelyn Cowan, ACGA President Billy Elkins
Doc’s contributions to the cattle industry reach beyond the borders of Arizona and span five decades. His interest in cattle and horses developed at an early age while spending time with relatives who farmed and raised harness horses and cattle in the Amish communities of Geauga County, Ohio.
He was not what some considered “college material,” but he attended Parsons College on a football work study grant. It was there, he gained the confidence to continue his education. His football career was short lived after being hauled off the field unconscious a few times, but his football coach’s brother was a farm veterinarian. Both men encouraged Doc to pursue his veterinarian degree.
In 1965 Doc married Jean DaCosta and in 1967 he completed his undergraduate studies. Soon thereafter, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, destined for Viet Nam. However, he was accepted to vet school just a few weeks before he was to report for duty. He signed up for an early commissioning program that required him to serve as an Army Reserve Officer while attending veterinary school.
Doc and Jean fell in love with Arizona after a few visits to see her family. It was during those visits doing “ride-a-longs” and internships, that Doc knew he wanted to move to out West. When serving out his time for the Army, he was offered to remain stateside, because his brother was an active duty helicopter pilot. Doc knew where he wanted to be assigned, Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.
Doc, Jean, and their two kids arrived at Ft. Huachuca in October 1971 and have made Arizona their home base ever since. While at the Fort, Doc provided veterinary care through discounted non-appropriated funds for animals owned by both active duty and retired military people in the area. Later, Doc opened Coronado Veterinary Service, began leasing ranches, and eventually bought his own hardscrabble ranch. He became active in national, state, and county cattlemen’s organizations, was a director of the Arizona Simmental Cattle Association, and was a member American Assoc. of Bovine Practitioners and International Embryo Transfer Society. He also developed an innovative non-surgical cattle embryo technique that was later developed and used by progressive cattlemen.
Eventually, Doc sold his clinic and ranch and took a job to be the Executive Vice President of Nevada First Corporation. He moved his family to the Bullhead Ranch near Paradise Valley, Nevada. His youngest son, Jake, was born shortly before the move. He managed the operation for four years and was sent to Harvard University Business School’s Agribusiness Seminars for an emersion into agriculture. This was to prepare him to assume more executive responsibilities in the parent company’s agricultural enterprises, however, as a family, they decided against moving to Kansas for this opportunity.
Doc took a job in Texas for a short time, but returned to Arizona in 1985 and established Hereford Veterinary Service. He also began leasing ranches as Jicara Livestock Company. Located near the U.S./Mexico border, with licenses and USDA accreditation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, he also became heavily involved in the international cattle trade, facilitating the export of U.S. breeding stock to Mexico and feeder cattle from Mexico to the U.S. Before long, he had many herd health and ranch management consulting arrangements serving ranches on both sides of the border.