Neil Francis Doherty of West Chatham died peacefully at his home on January 21, 2014. He was 86 and had lived with Alzheimer's Disease for several years.
Neil was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on April 12, 1927, the youngest of six children, to Neil and Julia (Tobin) Doherty. In 1943 he joined the Marine Corps and served as a radio operator in the Pacific theatre. After his discharge he studied briefly at the Maryknoll Junior Seminary in Pennsylvania, an experience he valued for the rest of his life. In 1946 he attended Merrimack College in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated in 1952.
In that same year Neil married Elizabeth (Betty) Burke Doherty. They had met in 1948 at the home of her cousin Jim who had served with him in the Marine Corps. They moved to Washington, D. C. where he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. He spent most of his working life in the Washington, D.C. area with additional assignments in Utica, NY, Williamsburg, VA, Vietnam, and South Korea. During the Vietnam War he was assigned to Saigon and served at the U.S. Embassy during the Tet Offensive. He retired in 1976 as Chief of Recruitment.
Neil was next employed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C. Prior to his retirement in 1986 he was Manager of the Consulting and Management Search Division. He continued his association with NRECA as an outside consultant. During this time the family moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
In 1993 Neil and Betty moved to Cape Cod. Neil was active in local Democratic politics and served for a time as the Chatham representative on the Cape Light Compact.
Throughout his life Neil's active participation in civil rights issues reflected his deep sense of social justice. While living in Maryland he actively supported the desegregation of housing. One of the highlights of his life was to be present at the March on Washington to hear Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Nothing was more important to Neil than his Catholic faith and his family. His generous nature was consistently expressed by "What can we do?" He was an enthusiastic world traveler and a life-long student of history. He was a voracious reader. Over the years Neil acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of American politics.
He is survived by his wife Betty, to whom he was married for 61 years, six children and nine grandchildren-- Christopher, his wife Jodi Mandel and children Mollie and Anna; Mary; Julie Reilly and children Neil and Erin; Neil and his wife Mary Connelly and son Kal; Therese and children Dennis and Rachel; and James and his wife Jill Sanderson and their children Pearce and Scott. In addition he is survived by a brother John as well as many nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on January 24 at the Nickerson Funeral Home, 87 Crowell Road in Chatham. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at the Holy Redeemer Church on Highland Avenue in Chatham on January 25 at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow in People's Cemetery in Chatham.
At his request donations may be made in Neil's name to the St. Vincent de Paul Society c/o Holy Redeemer Church, 57 Highland Ave., Chatham, MA 02633.