Hero, icon, pioneer, philanthropist, visionary, legend, legacy. All of these describe Daryl K. Doc Seaman.
“Doc was an example for all of us to live by. He was a true visionary and because of his generosity, wisdom and commitment, our lives are better,” said Harvey Weingarten, president and vice-chancellor, University of Calgary. “His passing is a tremendous loss to our community.”
Seaman was well known in Calgary for his philanthropy. Along with his brothers, B.J. (Byron) and Don, Doc provided $2 million in funding for the establishment of the Seaman Family MR Research Centre at the Calgary Health Region/University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine. His ongoing support through capital, contacts, experience and time, helped the centre became home to the neuroArm, the world’s first MRI-compatible surgical robot, in 2007.
“Doc’s honesty, integrity, support for the community and enthusiasm were evident in everything he did. By example, he passed these attributes to the many people he met, greatly influencing them,” said Dr. Garnette Sutherland, professor of neurosurgery, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine and the Calgary Health Region. “He was the most generous and supportive person that I have had the pleasure to be associated with.”
Seaman’s other gifts to the U of C included support for various student awards, most recently $500,000 to fund scholarships for student athletes in football, hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer and women’s field hockey. He was a student-athlete at the University of Saskatchewan and credited much of his success to his years playing sports.
He was also one of the first to step forward with a $5-million donation to support the Southern Alberta Urology Centre, through Reach!, a joint fundraising initiative of the Calgary Health Region and University of Calgary. Seaman, who suffered from prostate cancer, led the challenge with fellow survivor and philanthropist Brett Wilson, to raise funds for the $25-million project, entirely funded by donors.
Born in Rouleau, Saskatchewan, Seaman earned his BSc in mechanical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. He is said to have earned the nickname Doc while playing baseball during the summers off from school. He carried his baseball gear to games in a black satchel that looked like an old country doctor’s medical bag.
Following university, he served five years during the Second World War as a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot and flew combat missions in Africa and Italy.
After the war he settled in Calgary, and became a prominent figure in Canada’s oil and gas industry. He founded Bow Valley Industries, a successful international oil and gas company, which he ran until 1992. He was a director of numerous public companies, an Officer of the Order of Canada, part-owner of the Calgary Flames Hockey Club, and held Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary and the University of Saskatchewan. Seaman was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1993 and received the Alberta Order of Excellence last year.
A list of Seaman’s accomplishments would not be complete without his connection to the Calgary Flames. As one of the original owners of the team, he was instrumental in bringing the National Hockey League to Calgary in 1980. In 2007, he was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame together with his brother Byron and Harley Hotchkiss, as builders who brought the Flames here from Atlanta.
While Doc’s presence will be deeply missed, his legacy will live on in the many projects he supported, in the awards he funded, in the many companies he helped create, and through the many people he met, influenced and supported.
The University of Calgary expresses condolences to the family and friends of Doc Seaman.