Every now and then, an individual comes into our life who makes a real impact. These select few, at least for me, are those whose lives are filled with integrity, humility, and especially authenticity. A few days ago, quite unexpectedly, the Davis & Elkins College community lost one of those people whom I place in that selective category. The loss is profound for many of us.

Pete Dougherty was a very proud 1975 alumnus of Davis & Elkins College. During his collegiate days he served as class president and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Later, he was a founding member of the College’s National Alumni Council and a long-serving member of the Board of Trustees.  It was through his Board service that I came to know and truly respect Pete. I have been reflecting upon the life of my kind-hearted friend over the past few days, and particularly while attending his memorial service.

Pete loved people and was committed to making a difference, as was evident through both his professional and volunteer work. Much of his career was devoted to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs where, among other assignments, he served as the first national director of Homeless Veterans’ programs. He also served two terms as Jefferson County Sheriff in his beloved West Virginia. Pete’s professional and volunteer service were not tasks to be completed, rather they were a calling to be fulfilled.

Pete had a soft spot in his heart for students. Two and a half decades of service as a member of the Jefferson County School Board, including 21 years as president, says it all. When it came to his beloved Davis & Elkins College, Pete chaired the Student Life Committee of the Board and worked closely with Sigma Phi Epsilon. His overarching concern was making the collegiate experience the best it could possibly be for every student setting foot on the hallowed grounds of this campus. Because D&E was transformative for Pete’s life, he wanted to make sure today’s students had an equally powerful experience. How appropriate that Pete’s family has asked that donations made in his memory be directed to a scholarship at Davis & Elkins for a student from Jefferson County, thus combining two of his passions.

As I reflect on a well-lived life of one of God’s servants, perhaps it is best to simply say Pete Dougherty was quite simply a class act. He was a true Christian gentleman who made others feel valued, lived with humility, and consistently offered insight and positivity to any group or gathering with which he engaged. I always knew I could count on Pete’s support for anything that was helpful to Davis & Elkins College.

I will miss Pete Dougherty … his smile, his wisdom, his passion, his support, his humility, and his heart.  His earthly life ended on September 12 at the age of 68. Pete made the most of his earthly journey, touching so many lives along the way. My faith, like Pete’s faith, tells me that his eternal life and his caring touch for others has only just begun. How grateful I am that for Pete, and for all of us, the journey continues.

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College