Dave Dougherty, a true philanthropist of the heart

The long­time youth ment­or and pres­id­ent of the Fishtown Ath­let­ic Club passed away sud­denly last week at the age of 53.


Dave Dougherty, pres­id­ent and ath­let­ic dir­ect­or of the Fishtown Ath­let­ic Club, passed away sud­denly on Oct. 13 at the age of 53.

His wife, Mary, and chil­dren Dani­elle, Dav­id and Mat­thew sur­vive him. His me­mori­al ser­vice was held Tues­day at Burns Fu­ner­al Home on Columbia Av­en­ue.

The fol­low­ing is a trib­ute from the thou­sands of boys and girls, par­ents, coaches and vo­lun­teers of Fishtown A.C.

Time.  By any meas­ure, it is a man’s most pre­cious re­source, but more of­ten it is the gift most squandered.

In any com­munity, it is those in­di­vidu­als who take their time and mul­tiply it to make those things that mat­ter most pos­sible. It is the time put in by those sin­gu­lar vo­lun­teers that is the bed­rock of all that makes a neigh­bor­hood great. 

Here in Fishtown, Dave Dougherty and his dec­ades of ser­vice were the found­a­tion of the great­ness of a gen­er­a­tion of young people, some who are now giv­ing life to a new gen­er­a­tion touched by the im­pact of his count­less hours spent or­gan­iz­ing and man­aging a pro­gram whose motto he lived. 

He be­lieved that those kids who had the op­por­tun­ity to play, to be a part of a team, to stay act­ive and be a part of something lar­ger than them­selves would be suc­cess­ful. His be­lief was con­firmed and his ef­forts re­war­ded by his own chil­dren and by the thou­sands of oth­er kids who kicked a ball, roun­ded second base, swished a free throw or simply walked up to a bat­ting tee for the first time with all of their par­ents hopes and dreams stand­ing si­lently right be­hind them.

His skill and ded­ic­a­tion was a stal­wart force against a chan­ging tide in our city — a tide that swept dozens of oth­er youth or­gan­iz­a­tions away.  Against that tide, Dave stood, and, of­ten with just a few to help him, en­sured that the leg­acy of youth achieve­ment in our com­munity would not die out on his watch.  The trans­form­a­tion of the fields at Shissler and Het­zells, the vi­brancy of our pro­grams at Fishtown A.C. and the un­bridled hope for the fu­ture are the most re­cent ex­amples of the fruits of his ef­forts to give the kids around here the same chance to play and to be kids as those kids in any oth­er part of the city. 

The true phil­an­throp­ists among us are those like Dave Dougherty, those who prac­tice the highest form of al­tru­ism — acts of put­ting the good of oth­ers above one­self and sac­ri­fi­cing for that great­er good even if it means giv­ing all of our most pre­cious re­source. In Amer­ica, the great phil­an­throp­ists put their names on build­ings, mostly be­cause they give large sums of money to­ward their con­struc­tion. Phil­an­throp­ists like Dave Dougherty have their names in­scribed not on build­ings or on statues of them­selves, but on the char­ac­ter of count­less young boys and girls whose suc­cess in life proves to be a more-last­ing monu­ment to their gifts.  Build­ings de­cay and will even­tu­ally be re­placed, but the in­delible mark left on the lives of the kids of Fishtown through the ef­forts of Dave Dougherty will nev­er fade.

Since his gift of his time was from the heart and was his most pre­cious re­source, it will be passed down, like all true gifts, from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion and will al­ways live as a test­a­ment to his un­matched ded­ic­a­tion, un­waver­ing com­mit­ment to the youth of our com­munity and his spir­it as a true Fishtown­er.•• 

You can reach at star@bsmphilly.com.

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