James Dougherty

Obituary of James Timothy Dougherty

James Timothy Dougherty was born on December 6th, 1958, on Tripler Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was welcomed by his excited and loving parents Richard and Geraldine Dougherty and his three older siblings: brothers, Patrick and Michael, and his sister, Sharon. The family moved from Hawaii to California, before settling in Fort Walton Beach in the early 70s, where Jim lived most of his life until his sudden passing on August 8th, 2023. 

Jim‘s personality was effervescent and larger than life. He developed a passion for the outdoors as a young child, spending much of his youth fishing, sailing, surfing, and landscaping. He was also very creative and artistically talented. After high school, he moved to south Florida and attended art school. He loved to paint and was very inspired by abstract artists. He also loved music and spent much of his life listening to various genres, collecting records, and attending live shows.

He returned to Fort Walton Beach in his early 20s where his love of fishing and surfing grew, becoming an avid fisherman and exceptional deckhand on the Destin harbor. His knowledge about fishing and the sea was expansive, and Jim was always patient enough to share his knowledge with anyone who would listen. He became a successful department manager of Delchamps in his mid-20s. After that he went on to own his own successful Pepperidge Farm truck route where he delivered bread to local stores for many of the following years. 

In his late 20’s he reconnected and wed his high school sweetheart, Paula Evanko Dougherty.  After three miscarriages, they eagerly welcomed their miracle, Ryan Timothy Dougherty, into the world on April 23rd , 1991. They separated a few years later but remained loving co-parents and close friends.

Jim was a remarkably doting father. He was joyfully present and supportive through each moment possible in Ryan’s life, teaching him everything from surfing, fishing, t-ball, soccer, and more. They spent many days joyfully embraced on the beautiful beaches of Okaloosa Island, on fishing boats deep in the Gulf of Mexico, or playing miniature golf, and watching Nascar together. Jim’s life mission was to instill a deep love of family into his son, and to be an example of that love each moment of his life. Each person who knows Jim knows he loved his son more deeply than words can be expressed. Their bond wasn’t defined by bodies, but they were truly two souls sharing one heart.

Jim’s love of adventure lasted well into his adulthood. He traveled frequently to Costa Rica to surf with his lifelong friend, Dave Brown, and had many adventures with he and their friend John Pearson, surfing the beaches and enjoying John’s fishing charter boat. After he sold his bread business, he became a licensed Barge Engineer where he worked on major inland rivers delivering hazardous chemicals to different ports.

In 2014, he reconnected with his childhood friend, Terry Rudder’s sister, Mary Rudder. They instantly fell in love and became life partners. Jim loved Mary more than life itself. Her introduction to his life brought intense happiness and fun. When Mary was diagnosed with cancer shortly after falling in love, Jim was by her side every single day. Jim loved Mary’s children, Chloe and Jessie, like they were his own. He was excited to be a “Pow-Pow” and cherished his time with Chloe’s children, whom he considered his grandchildren, Raleigh, Adalai and Alcide.

Jim’s heart grew even larger when his son, Ryan, married Haley, and they welcomed his grandson, Cameron into the world. Jim was a beyond doting grandfather. Patient, loving, gentle, and kind don't begin to describe Jim as a grandfather.  He was fun-loving and silly, always cracking a joke and making them laugh.  He loved to play in the yard, patiently teaching Cameron the rules of every sport.  He gushed with pride when his grandaughter, Delilah was born.  He often remarked that he had "waited his entire life for her."  Their love was mutual, Cameron and Delilah were enamored with their Pow-Pow and will forever miss his love.

Jim was frequently referred to as a “salt of the earth” type of person, and that described him completely. People with the character traits of Jim Dougherty are difficult to come by. He cared about others completely, helping anyone and everyone in need. He was compassionate, and gentle, with a kind heart he wore on his sleeve. When he greeted you, he looked into your eyes with an energy you could feel. He was soft spoken and tender, always listening and supporting others in need. He never said goodbye quickly, preferring to walk you out the door and down the driveway, hanging onto your every word, loving you and making you feel like you were the most important person in the world. The emptiness that’s left in his wake will not ever be filled, and we will spend the rest of our lives grieving the loss of this truly remarkable and indescribably good man.

Jim is preceded in death by his father, Richard Patrick Dougherty; Mother, Geraldine Marion Dougherty;  sister, Sharon Dougherty; and his ex-wife, Paula Ann Dougherty.

He is survived by his son, Ryan Dougherty; daughter-in-law, Haley Dougherty;  life partner, Mary Rudder; brothers, Michael and Patrick Dougherty;  daughter-in-love, Chloe Finley; son-in-love, Jessie Cooley; and his grandchildren, Cameron Timothy Dougherty, Delilah Ann Dougherty, Raeleigh Mabel Ann, Adalai Tallulah, and Alcide Deewayne.

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, September 15th, 2023 at 5PM, Docie’s Dock in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


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