A longtime Seaside doctor was found dead after he was reported missing last Monday while snowboarding in Washington state.
Dr. Ben Cockcroft, 62, who practiced medicine at Providence Seaside Hospital for nearly 30 years, was located by a King County search and rescue team on Wednesday at Stevens Pass.
“He has cared for multiple generations — grandparents to babies — and is well-known and loved by all,” the hospital said in a statement. “He also loved his patients and community, saying in a profile article, ‘In a sense, I feel I have thousands of friends here.’ And indeed he does.
“He also had a spirit of service, both in North Coast communities and also in taking time to share his medical expertise and bring much-needed supplies to Oaxaca, Mexico.
“Dr. Cockcroft was a loving father and husband. He and his wife, Lindy, have been at the heart of so much in the community. Many people here have watched their three children — April, Travis and Lucas — grow up, playing and learning in school, sports and activities. He and his family loved traveling, winter sports and being outdoors. Dr. Cockcroft also had a passion for surfing contests and loved playing and spending time with dogs.
“The Cockcroft family expresses deep gratitude to Detective Ed Christian and the team at King County search and rescue for their heroic efforts, as well as the team of volunteers from surrounding counties. They endured severe weather during the search and always took time to listen to the family.”
Cockcroft is the past president of the Clatsop County Medical Society and a former chief of staff at Providence Seaside.
He attended the University of California, Santa Cruz before earning his medical degree from the University of California, Irvine. He completed an internship in Fresno, California, and a family practice residency at San Pedro Peninsula Hospital before moving to Seaside.
Dr. Dominique Greco, the medical director for primary care at Providence North Coast Clinic, said, “There are no words to express our deep sorrow. Only that he is loved and will be terribly missed.”
Colleagues, patients and friends have shared memories and tributes online at Forever Missed, including Dr. Sharyl Magnuson Boyle, who joined the clinic in 2019.
“Practicing with Ben, I got to know his style, and grew to really respect his way of practice,” Magnuson Boyle said. “When he decided to go half time, I took on several of his patients. With these patients, my respect for Ben grew. He practiced at a level one rarely sees outside of an academic setting.
“Diagnosing and managing complicated and rare conditions seemed to be no problem for Ben, just taken in stride. He was a gem. I don’t think that the practice really realized the quality of physician they had in Dr. Cockcroft because he was a pretty humble guy. Sharing patients with Ben, I do know his quality, and I regret not having had the opportunity to let him know how much I respected his talents and abilities.
“We always think there will be time to thank a colleague, to recognize him, to let him know how he is valued — and then there is no more time. I hope his family will know from me that he was an exceptional physician. He had rare skills and insights. His patients will really miss him. I will miss him.”
Janis Cerelli, a longtime patient of Cockcroft’s, said she affectionately called him “Dr. Bambino” since meeting him more than 20 years ago.
“My grandmother was in the hospital at Seaside and he walked in and he said ‘Hi’ to my grandmother and went to the bed next door and drew the curtain,” Cerelli said. “And I said in Italian to my grandmother, ‘Who is that?’ And she said in Italian, ‘He’s a doctor.’
“ ... I said, in Italian, ‘But nana, he has a face like a baby.’ So then he opened up the curtain and delightedly said, ‘Hi, I’m Dr. Bambino.’
“I mean, he’s just a sweetheart, and he was just a great guy,” Cerelli said. “I have deep affection for him and I’m so sorry for him and his family.”
Dennis Smith, the owner of Seaside Surf Shop, said Cockcroft was a friend and his doctor for 25 years.
“You can’t be a surfer in this community and not know the Cockcrofts,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for a lot of people.
“He lived right there,” Smith said, referring to Sunset Boulevard in the Cove, known as the hub of Seaside’s surf scene. “He was at the epicenter every day. He saw the comings and goings and everybody knew him.”
He said Cockcroft helped clear rocks and sand out of a little trail that goes down to the beach after big winter storms to make it more accessible for older surfers and others who had difficulty getting over the rocks. Smith said it is a big job every year.
“It goes back to his deep love for the beach and this little pocket of the community,” he said.