William J. Doherty, Sr., of Millsboro, DE, and Jensen Beach, FL, passed away peacefully at home with his wife by his side, on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at the age of 89, a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday. What a fulfilling life it had been.
Bill was born in Wilmington, one of 5 children of the late John and Anna (Green) Doherty. He attended St. Elizabeth Grade School, Salesianum School, and was a 1948 graduate of Conrad High School. Upon graduation, he served honorably in the US Navy aboard the destroyer, USS Brownson in the Mediterranean Theatre.
Having worked in his great-uncle's funeral business, JJ Doherty Undertakers, Bill decided to pursue a career in funeral service. He went on to graduate from Eckels College of Mortuary Science and obtain his funeral director’s license. In 1957, Bill opened Doherty Brothers Funeral Home, located at 1900 Delaware Avenue in the 40 acres neighborhood of Wilmington. In 1958, he was elected New Castle County Coroner and served for several years before playing an integral role in helping establish the current Medical Examiner system in Delaware. In 1974, Bill opened his second facility at 3200 Limestone Road, in Pike Creek and was very proud of the success of the business, which was a direct result of his vision and hard work.
Bill was actively involved in the community throughout his professional career, and was always willing to give freely of his time and talents. He was appointed by then-Governor Carvel to chair the Wilmington Civic Center office building commission, which was tasked with constructing what is now the Carvel State Office Building at 9th and French Streets; He also served as chairman of the Wilmington Parking Authority, which developed and constructed many of the off-street parking garages in the City of Wilmington. Bill served as chairman of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce; served on the advisory boards of Padua Academy and the Benedectine School for Exceptional Children; he was past-president of the Kirkwood Rotary Club (now the Christiana Rotary Club) and the Fairfax Optimist Club. A devout Catholic, Bill was a former active member of St. Ann and St. John the Beloved Parishes, and most recently attended Mary Mother of Peace Church. Over the years he served the Diocese in various capacities including as chairman of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. He was a former member of the Knights of Columbus, the Wilmington Serra Club (now the Diocesan Vocations Guild) and was one of the “Men of Malvern”.
While Bill remained modest in regard to his professional accomplishments, he always made a point to outwardly show the pride he had for his family. He would say that marrying Janice, raising 7 children and having the opportunity to see his family grow to include 15 grandchildren, their spouses, and 8 great-grandchildren, would have been his proudest achievement. He retired early, and began the next chapter of his life, which was full of adventure. Bill and Janice traveled the world and enjoyed many friendships forged along the way, especially in the Nettles Island community in Jensen Beach, FL. Bill was one of “Betty’s Boys” in the men’s chorus, and was a member of the theater guild and the original High Tides Yacht Club.
Bill will be remembered for his professional compassion and his gregarious personality. His children and grandchildren will cherish the example he set of always putting family first and they will never forget his razor-sharp wit.
In addition to his beloved wife of 63 years, Janice (Underhill), he is survived by his children, Mary Doherty, Diane Plumley (Ralph), Bill (Dana), Teresa Schick, Susan McDevitt, Amy Doherty Sipmeier (Richard), Christine Boughton (Larry); his 15 grandchildren; and 8 great-grandchildren.
The Doherty family would like to especially thank Bill’s caregivers, Scott, Fran, and Renee, and the nurses and aides of Delaware Hospice for the kindness and care rendered in his final months, weeks, and days. Your assistance was truly a blessing.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, services and burial will be held privately with his family.
Contributions in Bill’s memory can be made to Delaware Hospice, 16 Polly Drummond Center, 2nd Floor, Newark, DE, 19711.
16 Polly Drummond Center, 2nd Floor, Newark DE 19711