True grit: Barbara Dougherty, mother of Morristown mayor, held together family of nine

Barbara Dougherty, 1929-2018
Barbara Dougherty, 1929-2018.
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For a time, she was a familiar sight in Morristown, smiling beside Mayor Tim Dougherty and First Lady Mary Dougherty at events all over town.

This week family and friends will say goodbye to Barbara Ann Dougherty. The Mayor’s mother passed away Sunday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 89.

Barbara Dougherty and her son, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, at Anthony's Pizza in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Barbara Dougherty and her son, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, at Anthony’s Pizza in Morristown in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“She was someone you could always count on. I knew no matter how tough things got, or how much despair was in my life, she was always there,” said the Mayor, remembering a strong, resourceful woman who held together a family of nine children after his father died in 1981.

“She worked very hard. I have no idea how she made ends meet,” he said, crediting his work ethic to her.

Mary Dougherty lost her mother a few years before meeting Barbara, who quickly accepted her as a daughter.

“She was my best friend for a long time,” Mary Dougherty said, fondly recalling day trips to the Shore together in Barbara’s later years. “She was very, very welcoming.”

Morristown First Lady Mary Dougherty dances with mother-in-law Barbara Dougherty, at the 2016 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Morristown First Lady Mary Dougherty dances with mother-in-law Barbara Dougherty, at the 2016 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Mary described her mother-in-law as a quick-witted lady and legendary cook, who loved singing Andrews Sisters and Clancy Brothers songs at family gatherings and dancing to the music of Frank Sinatra and ’40s Big Bands.

Barbara’s Irish heritage and Roman Catholic faith were central, the Doughertys said, and her devotion to family was paramount: Barbara had 25 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Born on Aug. 16, 1929, in Troy, N.Y., Barbara was the daughter of Willard Arnold Kavanaugh and Kathryn (Kay) Fallon Kavanaugh.  Barbara married Cornelius Bernard Dougherty Jr., in 1951.

After her husband died, she went back to work for Liberty Mutual, rising from mail clerk to supervisor, the Mayor said.  Six children still lived at home at the time, he said.

Barbara lived in West Orange–where she was a member of the Holy Rosary Society, and an alto with Our Lady of the Valley’s church choir–until her retirement, when she moved to the Greenbriar community in Brick, NJ. In addition to her large family, she treasured her dog, Buck, and her cats.

Mayor Tim Dougherty and First Lady Mary Dougherty with Tim's mom, Barbara, on Memorial Day 2016. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Mayor Tim Dougherty and First Lady Mary Dougherty with
Tim’s mom, Barbara, on Memorial Day 2016. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

More recently, she lived with Tim and Mary in Morristown, until her illness required continuous care. During her brief stay at the Morris View nursing home, Morris County privatized the facility. Concerns about declining service prompted Mary Dougherty to run for Morris County freeholder this fall.

It’s been a hard month for the Mayor, who also lost a close friend, planning board member Tim Murphy, who had been battling cancer.

State Sen. Anthony Bucco and Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco with Barbara Dougherty, Memorial Day 2016. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
State Sen. Anthony Bucco and Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco with Barbara Dougherty, Memorial Day 2016. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Describing his mother as a great woman, Tim Dougherty said he is grateful for the closeness they shared in her final years, which included family vacations in North Carolina.

“She was there when I needed her most,” he said. “I hope I was there for her.”

A wake for Barbara is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, at the Doyle Funeral Home, 106 Maple Ave., Morristown, from 4 to 8 p.m.  Her funeral Mass will follow on Friday at 10 am at The Church of the Assumption, across the street from the funeral home.

Bill Byrne chats with Barbara Dougherty at Revolutionary Times Weekend on the Morristown Green, July 4, 2016. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bill Byrne chats with Barbara Dougherty at Revolutionary Times Weekend on the Morristown Green, July 4, 2016. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Barbara is survived by her children and their families, Dennis and Rong of Belvidere, N.J.; Matthew and Nancy of Silver Spring, Md.; Cornelius Bernard III and Diane of Nazareth, Pa.; Patricia and Charles Kinney of North Plainfield, N.J.; Timothy and Mary of Morristown; Danny and Lisa of Bradley Beach, N.J.; John of Leesport, Pa.; Barbara of Toms River, N.J., and Margaret and Dean Calderwood.

Her brothers Jack and Paul (Billy) Kavanaugh, and her sister, Patricia Collins, predeceased her. She is survived by a sister, Kathleen Smith, of Loveland, Colo.

In lieu of flowers, donations made be made in Barbara’s memory to the Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center, 36 South St., Morristown, 07960.
 

Barbara Dougherty, third from left, with Kendra Arnold, Mary Dougherty, and Mayor Tim Dougherty at opening of b.jones organic spa, September 2015. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Barbara Dougherty, third from left, with Kendra Arnold, Mary Dougherty, and Mayor Tim Dougherty at opening of b.jones organic spa, September 2015. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Barbara Dougherty was a dear sweet lady and it was a joy to have the opportunity to meet her and share in the joy she felt in Tim and Mary’s company.

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