David Rick Farmer, the longtime owner of Durango Sports Club, a business that grew out of his passion for physical therapy, died Sept. 15 at home after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Farmer, 63, moved to Durango in 1982 from El Paso, Texas, with John Stoddard, a hiking buddy he had met in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. The men subsequently hiked the Weminuche Wilderness.
A native of Louisiana, Farmer enjoyed the mountains, and at the end of the Weminuche hike, he interviewed for a job as a physical therapist at what was then Mercy Hospital.
“He brought a tie along with him, and they asked him how he had a tie at the end of a hiking trip,” Stoddard said. “He told them he always tried to be prepared for whatever came his way, and that’s what convinced Mercy to hire him.”
Farmer asked Stoddard to move to Durango, and both men lived out of a mobile home in Hesperus as they built lives in Durango.
“From the first time I knew Dave, he was passionate about his physical therapy career. It was his first passion,” Stoddard said.
As a boy, Farmer worked on a ranch in Louisiana with a man who had lost a leg and who was helped by physical therapy. The experience set Farmer on his career choice, Stoddard said.
Durango was a hotbed of the new sport of mountain biking in the early 1980s, and the thrill of riding in the mountains had a convert in Farmer.
Based on his knowledge of human physiology as a physical therapist, Farmer was soon working with competitive mountain bikers to improve their performance.
He worked with several top competitive mountain bikers beginning in the 1980s and the 1990s, including Lisa Muhich and John Tomac.
Ned Overend, a six-time NORBA cross-country mountain bike national champion and winner of the inaugural UCI Mountain Bike World Championship in 1990 held in Durango, said advice from Farmer helped him.
“I learned from him to take a holistic approach. It’s not just about the training, but how important recovery is both from intensive training and racing,” Overend said. “It came from his physical therapy background. He emphasized a lot of cross-training in winter to make your whole body strong.”
Farmer was passionate about his pursuits from developing Durango Sport Club to working with mountain bikers and at the end of his life working with a friend who was a beekeeper in Hawaii, where he split his time.
“He was from Louisiana and he had a strong accent, which he never lost,” Overend said. “When you got him wound up, he was hard to understand.”
Lorelei Almond, Farmer’s partner and companion the past 10 years, said in the past five years Farmer had sold his interest in DSC and the related physical therapy clinic. He had opened DSC in the early 1990s.
Farmer bought an e-bike while he fought cancer so he could still enjoy cycling, Almond said.
“He enjoyed work. Physical therapy for him wasn’t work,” she said. “He enjoyed farming his property in Hawaii. He enjoyed getting out of the house and into the hills on a bicycle. Later on, he bought an e-bike so he could still ride. If he enjoyed something, he’d find a way.”
Farmer was born in Abbeville, Louisiana, on March 17, 1957, to Bobby Don Farmer Sr. and Patricia Cash Farmer Trahan.
Farmer served as medic in the U.S. Army and received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Louisiana State University Medical Center School of Allied Health Professionals in 1982.
A celebration of life was held at Farmer’s Durango home Sept. 19, and his ashes were spread at his homes in Durango and Hawaii.