52 Ancestors #29 Walter Lyle Dougherty 1919- 2010

My mother had two brothers Robert Edwin Dougherty who I wrote about in week 23 and Walter Lyle Dougherty.

Walter Lyle Dougherty
Walter Lyle Dougherty

Walter was the youngest, being born on 24 November 1919 in Davis, California to J. E. and Ada (Heap)Dougherty. When Walter was born the family was still living on ‘A’ Street across from the university. Soon after the ranch off Russell Blvd was built by his dad. Walter grew up mostly knowing the ranch as his home. His father was a Poultry Husbandry professor at UC Davis and his mother was very active in the community. His mother, Ada taught piano and Walter was one of her star pupils. He also loved building and flying his model planes along with his brother.

Walters model plan
Walters model plane

When the family went to Madison Wisconsin for J. E.’s sabbatical to work on his PHD, Walter was only about 10. Then the banks closed and they had to make the trip back to California and the ranch in the middle of winter. It was probably a little scary suddenly being uprooted again and the news and talk about loss of money, jobs and all their savings.

Back in Davis things sort of got back to normal. He was most likely the class clown.

Walter Dougherty circa. 1930
Walter Dougherty
circa. 1930


Walter continued to developed his talent with the piano. As a young man he tried his hand at writing music and published one of his compositions.

He attended Davis schools were he was active in many clubs including journalism, choir, and the yearbook. Upon graduation he attended San Francisco State in 1939 where he was active in the Little Theater.

1940 US Census
1940 US Census

The 1940 Census finds him on the Davis Ranch with his bother and sister-in law. Their parents were living in San Francisco at the time. Walter transferred to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. He was quite the man on campus. Active in the Men’s Glee Club, Swordsmen, Gamma Phi Delta, Poultry Club and Student Government.

Cal Poly Fencing Team Walter Dougherty third from the right
Cal Poly  Mustang Swordsmen 1941
Harvey Hutton, Walt Porter, Tom Galli, Doc Bowls, Walter Dougherty, Jack Aboudara, Warren Gin

In 1941-42 he was student body president.

Then World War II came along and instead of completing his college education he enlisted in the Army, and was attached to the Signal Corps.

Walter Dougherty Dec. 1943
Walter Dougherty
Dec. 1943

His father was not happy with either of his sons for going off to war when he felt they were more valuable at home on the poultry ranch. Walter recounted that most of his time was spent in New Guinea.

Native Village \New Guinea Jan. 1945
Native Village \New Guinea
Jan. 1945

Upon the close of the war Walter met and married Aimee Kesterson,  on 27 December 1947 in Woodland California.

Water and Aimee Dougherty
Water and Aimee Dougherty

Aimee had two daughters from an earlier marriage. I always thought they were twins because Madeleine and I often got their hand-me-downs. They were really cute outfits that were exactly alike accept in color.
In 1948 Walter and Aimee welcomed their son.

12 July 1957 Walter married Iris G. (Croft) Dickey. Iris had two daughters from an earlier marriage to Robert Dickey.

Iris and Walter Dougherty
Iris and Walter Dougherty

Walter had many talents one of his talents was inventing equipment. He had built an egg cleaning machine for the family poultry ranch. While working for George Croft, his father-in-law, he developed several parts for the family (Croft Trailers) industry. He managed the production and shop half of the family business in Kansas City, eventually Iris’ younger daughter went to work along side Walter being groomed to take the helm of the business.
One of Walters passions was playing the organ. He would have loved to have had his musical compositions published. An active Shriner, he was also a drum major for the Shriners for many years.

Walter Dougherty  Shriner Drum Major Kansas City, MO
Walter Dougherty
Shriner Drum Major
Kansas City, MO

As Walter aged he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, but he remained active. He was an avid reader, fiction and non fiction alike. He continued to play the organ and piano on occasion. His wife Iris died in 2000.

Walter then married Helen (Dumphey) O’Donnell, a women he had meet when he was going through his training during WWII. They had each moved on and married others. Helen had raised 5 children.  After Walter and Helen married, Walter ended up moving to Springfield, Mass. where Helen had lived for much of her adult life. Helen died in 2009.  After Helen’s passing her adult children continued to provide loving care for Walt. I truly appreciate all they did for him.

Walter L. Dougherty 2007
Walter L. Dougherty

I really miss my Uncle Walt. He was tall and slim like his father. He had a very expressive face. When ever I was around he was always easy going.   He loved to read, and he played the organ to relax. His interest were varied and I found him easy to talk with. He was a happy reminder of my mother. Walter died April 1, 2010?