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Ransom Adrian “Doc” Wilcox was born in Taber, Alberta, Canada, in 1907 to David Adrian and Agnes Southworth Wilcox. He was the sixth of seven children. Because Rance was sickly, the family moved to the warmer climate of California. The family was part of a group of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) that bought land in Vina, north of Chico.
Financial hardship forced the Wilcox family to move often in search of work. The family lived in Vacaville, Pope Valley, Gridley, Ukiah, Redwood Valley, Sebastopol, and Oakland. They farmed and tended sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, turkeys, and hens. They cured ham in a smokehouse and did a lot of hunting and fishing. Once, to escape a charging boar, Wilcox stuck a pole he was carrying into the ground and climbed up! One season the family lived in a tent while the men worked cutting hay. Every year at harvest time, all the family members picked apples. Wilcox joined his father and brothers for a year in Arizona, building a school on an American Indian reservation.
In 1935, Wilcox married and began studying to be a chiropractor. But the Great Depression put his studies on hold. He tried several enterprises to support his family. Most failed. So did his marriage.
In 1943, Wilcox enlisted in the army. Because of his hunting background, his superiors had him train soldiers in gunnery and target practice. Just before his unit was to go fight overseas, Wilcox got the flu. He missed the boat—literally—and was honorably discharged.
Between more failed marriages, Wilcox completed his studies and opened a chiropractic practice just off Union Square in San Francisco. He took his kids to see Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Seal Rock, Smuggler’s Cove, the Presidio, Fleishhacker Zoo, and football games at Kezar Stadium. Later he moved to Hayward and opened a practice on B Street.
For the most part, Wilcox’s stories are autobiographical. His friends called him Ray (for R. A.) or Doc. Besides writing, Wilcox was an excellent dancer. He enjoyed singing and was good with his hands. He loved to walk in the great outdoors.
Near the end of his life, Wilcox joked about leaving his body to science. “I’m sure they can use my brain. It’s in perfect condition—never been used.” In a letter to his daughter, he wrote, “In my heart I have no hatred or dislike for anyone. In my career I have eased many a person’s pain and suffering.”
Wilcox died of cancer in 1992 and is buried in Ukiah, California. His novel, To Provoke the Eyes of His Glory, will be out in 2014.