Gary A Ponder, DVM, known affectionately as Doc, died peacefully at home as the sun was rising on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. He was surrounded by his loved ones.
Gary was born on May 2, 1952, in Walnut Ridge. He graduated from Pocahontas High School 1970. After graduation, he served in the Navy for four years. When he was honorably discharged, he took a job as a wrangler on a horse ranch in Napa, Calif., where he met the love of his life, Antonette Kate Brajkovich (Toni). They shared a love for horses and courted on the horse trails in Napa. Toni and Gary were married in San Anselmo, Calif., on Oct. 24, 1976.
They moved back to Walnut Ridge and Gary began his studies, which led to his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Louisiana State University in 1985. After getting his license, Gary practiced in Russellville before opening the White River Veterinary Clinic, in Flippin. Gary and Toni raised three children, Clinton Russell, Tanya Leigh and Nicholas Joseph in Flippin.
Gary took care of his community’s farm animals and pets. He loved going out on farm calls, no matter the weather or time. You could expect to see his truck at the clinic at all hours to take care of clients and their beloved pets. Over the 34 years as Doc in Flippin, Gary found time for family and friends. He loved to fish on the White and Buffalo Rivers, deer hunt on his farm and elk hunt in Colorado. He always tried to attend his children’s soccer matches. Gary stayed in contact with his Navy buddies and they had reunions every two years in Maine, where one of the guys was a lobster fisherman – so they feasted on lobsters.
His sisters and brother lived nearby, and they enjoyed holidays, birthdays, graduations, and other special events together. Gary and Toni continued their love of riding horses. You could often find them camped along the Buffalo National River with friends. Erbie was Doc’s favorite place to camp. He loved his horse, Spook, because he was always a challenge to ride and he loved playing cowboy. During these last few years as his health was failing, you would find Gary at home reading his favorite book, Lonesome Dove, or watching the western channel. His second home was Northern California, he and Toni made sure they visited regularly. The children grew up close to Toni’s parents, Mimi and Poppy, and their Californian aunts, uncles and cousins.
Gary is survived by his wife, Toni; son, Clinton (Lauren Wayson); daughter, Tanya and son Nicholas; a sister, Janet Little (Mitch Little) of Hoxie; sister-in-law Susan Ponder Brown (Morgan Brown), of Imboden, AR; his sister-in-law, Patricia Brajkovich (John Nelson) of Windsor, Calif.; brother-in-law, Thomas Brajkovich (Rita) of Thousand Oaks, Calif.; father-in-law, Peter Joseph Brajkovich of Greenbrae, Calif.; nine nieces and nephews; and nine great-nieces and nephews.
Gary was pre-deceased by his parents, John A. Ponder (Junior) and Anna V. Morrison Ponder; his mother-in law, Gladys M. Brajkovich; his sister, Mary Ann Ponder; brothers, David L. Ponder and Terry E. Ponder; and nephew, David Scott Ponder.
Due to Covid concerns, a celebration of life will be held later. In-lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to ASU Foundation c/o Pre-Veterinarian Discretionary Fund in Memory of Gary Ponder P.O. Box 1990 State University, AR 72467; Hospice of the Ozarks; or Have a Heart Pet Shelter in Yellville.
An online guestbook is available at www.roller funeralhomes.com.