2015-10-29 / News

St. Ignace, Mackinac Island Communities, Family and Friends Rally Around ‘Doc’

By Stephanie Fortino


The outpouring of love and support from the St. Ignace and Mackinac Island communities have overwhelmed Tim “Doc” and Melissa Dockry, since Mr. Dockry’s recent diagnosis with cancer. The couple is pictured outside their St. Ignace home Sunday, October 25. Mr. Dockry is shown holding his new magic-themed walking stick that was carved by Vic Price of Mackinac Island. The outpouring of love and support from the St. Ignace and Mackinac Island communities have overwhelmed Tim “Doc” and Melissa Dockry, since Mr. Dockry’s recent diagnosis with cancer. The couple is pictured outside their St. Ignace home Sunday, October 25. Mr. Dockry is shown holding his new magic-themed walking stick that was carved by Vic Price of Mackinac Island. For 15 years, Tim “Doc” Dockry of St. Ignace has been a fixture on Mackinac Island at Doc’s House of Magic on Main Street, but his absence there this fall has been noticeable. Mr. Dockry and his wife, Melissa, have been battling his recent diagnosis with stage four cancer since early September. He is now undergoing cancer treatment, and says that the support from the St. Ignace and Mackinac Island communities is helping him fight.

“The amount of love has been unbelievable,” he said. “Talk about humbling; it’s been so humbling.”

As an independent person by nature, Mr. Dockry has had to learn how to accept help from others during this difficult time. The response has been overwhelming, he said, as people in the community have offered countless gifts of kindness, including dropping off food, asking to walk their dogs, and giving car rides.

Cancer impacts more than just the patient, Mr. Dockry said, as his wife, family, and friends are affected, too. But after going through the initial stages of shock, despair, and questioning, Mr. Dockry was instilled with a resolve to fight the disease.

“There are two things you have to fight for,” he said. “One is your life, the other is your wife.”

The two just celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary, and were together for eight years before.

“My wife, Melissa, has been everything. I’m very lucky she’s by my side.”

Mrs. Dockry is a professor in the communications department at Lake Superior State University. Having grown up in St. Ignace, she is also known by many on the Island as she works at the Pink Pony during the summer.

In response to Mr. Dockry’s diagnosis, the Pink Pony and Chippewa Hotel held a benefit fundraiser Tuesday, October 20, where the Mackinac Island and St. Ignace communities came together. About 110 people were expected, Mr. Dockry said, but more than 300 people attended from the Island, St. Ignace, and elsewhere.

“I have never felt so much love in a single place, ever,” he said.

Helping to make the event a family affair, Mr. Dockry’s siblings and their families attended from elsewhere in Michigan and from all across his native Wisconsin. The group surprised him on the ferry to the Island. Friends, former Doc’s House of Magic employees, and old colleagues from his youth on the Island attended, as well. Several tourists were drawn in by the love, warmth, and sense of community, too, even though they didn’t know Mr. Dockry, and others looked into the crowded restaurant from the sidewalk outside.

“This was bigger than just humans getting together, friends getting together,” he said. “There was a divine hand in this and purpose, I really believe it.”

The Benser, Nephew, and Porter families donated the proceeds from the beverage and food sales to Mr. and Mrs. Dockry and offered a free buffet for fundraiser attendees. Star Line offered a free late-night ferry for those from St. Ignace who wanted to attend the fundraiser, and friend and Star Line Assistant CEO Mike North won the 50/50 raffle and donated all of the winnings to the Dockrys.

The night also featured Docthemed trivia, which included questions like the business he operated after hours in employee housing and the time he hit a bear while riding on his motorcycle.

Mr. Dockry was also surprised with a special gift made by Vic Price of Mackinac Island: a magic-themed walking stick made from a 100-year-old lilac branch. It is engraved with the Doc’s House of Magic logo, tricks from the store, and other magical items.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Mr. Dockry said of the walking stick, which he used throughout the fundraiser as he greeted people, shook hands, and hugged friends. “Cancer zaps your strength. It was so special to me; it saved me that night.”

There was barely room to move in the Pink Pony, and Mr. and Mrs. Dockry were overwhelmed by the response.

“I looked around and thought, ‘Did I really touch all these lives?’ It was humbling, and to accept the kindness of so many when you’re used to being self-sufficient is very humbling. It’s hard to do, but I can’t do this alone.”

Mr. Dockry first stepped off the ferry on Mackinac Island in 1978, when he moved here for his first summer job after his freshman year of college. He worked for the Chippewa Hotel, and after returning to college, finishing his philosophy degree, and trying to move away for a while, he was drawn back.

“It’s been in my heart ever since,” he said from his home in St. Ignace. “It’s a special place. There’s a real magic over there. Real magic. I just do the fake magic. Mackinac is the real magic.”

Watching dutifully over the magic shop since his diagnosis is Katie Vondoran, who is the reason the shop has continued to operate this fall.

“I pride myself that we have been a unique place where families come and children leave happy,” Mr. Dockry reflected. “I want that legacy to live on. I’ve put a lot of work into that place, and it’s got to live on. There are too many kids to share with, yet. There’s too much to do. I can’t let this cancer beat me. It won’t win. There’s too much to do.”

Mr. Dockry’s road to recovery will include chemotherapy, and he is determined to fight his hardest.

“I’m not the first guy to get sick and I won’t be the last. We need to find a cure,” he said. “It affects every community and every family, almost.

“I will be one of those miracles. I expect to walk through the doors of Doc’s House of Magic in the spring.”

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