Categorized | Obituaries

Nancy Decker Dougherty

Posted on 15 February 2013

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Nancy Decker Dougherty passed away peacefully on February 6, 2013 at her home on Tuthill’s Hill, Shelter Island, after a 13-year battle with Alzheimers Disease.

Mrs. Dougherty was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, the daughter of a college professor and went on to Radcliffe College, graduating in 1961.

She was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year at Radcliffe and upon graduation accepted President Bunting’s offer to tour the country for a year with classmate Lucy Tuchman, daughter of author Barbara Tuchman, extolling the virtues of Radcliffe to high school girls.

She then studied for her master’s degree and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mrs. Dougherty moved back east in 1971, marrying Jim Doughterty, Shelter Island Town Supervisor since 2008, and taking up residence in Manhattan.

She was a very active Co-Chair of the Literary Committee of the National Arts Club in New York City for many years.

In 1976 the Doughertys bought the John Tuthill house, built in 1852 and owned by the Tuthill family for exactly 100 years, using it as a weekend getaway until 2001 when they moved to the island permanently.

Mrs. Dougherty was a film critic and writer of biographies. She was honored by PEN America in 1987 with the PEN Girard Award for best non-fiction work by a previously unpublished female author.

On Shelter Island, in addition to spending glorious days writing, reading, swimming and playing tennis, she was very active with local literary groups and in the environment, serving for many years on the Mashomack Preserve Board of Trustees.

Mrs. Dougherty is survived by her husband, Jim,  brother Jack and sister in law Linda of Hawaii, niece Sarah, Jim’s nephew Terence and her four wonderful caregivers and loving friends of the past seven years,  Germaine, Lita, Maka and Tamar.

There will be a private family service, and a memorial celebration of Mrs. Dougherty’s life planned for her birthday, June 30 or thereabouts.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The MacDowell  Colony, Peterborough, NH, where she was a writer in residence, to the Mashomack Preserve or to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.


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