R.I.P. Ralph H. Daugherty, 91
The longtime Collingswood resident was a decorated veteran, Boy Scout leader, and led the charge to erect a monument to those lost in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
On Dec. 19, Collingswood lost one of its most decorated citizens and a man who will be remembered for his three-year campaign to memorialize the war dead in the borough.
Son of the late R. Harry and Irene Daugherty (nee Eckstein) and predeceased by his older sister, Mildred Goldsmith (Robert), he graduated Collingswood High School in 1939 and went to work for RCA-Victor in Camden.
In October 1942, Daugherty enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. As a radio operator and aerial gunner on a B-24 liberator, Daugherty served on 40 bombing missions in the World War II Pacific theater, mostly over Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the air medal with seven oak leaf clusters.
Daugherty was recalled into active duty by the U.S. Air Force in June 1951 to serve as a Communications Center Supervisor in Japan and Korea, and again in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In February 1959, Daugherty was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a Captain at the Willow Grove Air Reserve Facility working as an Air Reserve Technician. He was Commander of the 913th Communications Flight until his retirement as a Lt. Colonel from the Air Force Reserve in 1975.
Daugherty joined the Tatem-Shields Post #17 American Legion, Collingswood in 1945, and was named Commander of the Post on eight different occasions. In 1988-89, he spearheaded a drive to bring a Korean and Vietnam War Memorial to Knight Park.
For 30 years, he presided over Collingswood Celebrations, Inc., and chaired its Bicentennial Committee in 1976.
In an entry on his blog on the borough website, Collingswood Mayor James Maley remembered Daugherty as "the face of the American Legion here in Collingswood" and "one of my favorite people."
Ralph was probably best known for running the 4th of July Show here in town for—well, forever. Years ago the show was in the daytime, included animal acts, and ended with a concert and fireworks. That was Ralph's baby for decades. He was a hero for his country and served his town faithfully for years. Fare thee well, Ralph Daugherty—I'm sure he's been greeted with the best fireworks show ever.
Since 1947, Daugherty was also associated with Camden County Boy Scouts of America, and was a member of the Order of the Arrow, Lekau Lodge, making several trips to the Philmont Scout Ranch headquarters in Cimarron, NM.
In 1992, Lt. Colonel Daugherty received the Military Order of the World Wars Patrick Henry Silver Medallion for Patriotic Achievement. In May 1998, he was awarded the highest military honor in New Jersey: the Distinguished Service Medal. He was a guest lecturer at Collingswood High School, recalling his experiences in World War II during American Wars Classes, and was named to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ralph was a life member of Tatem-Shields Post #17 American Legion, of the Military Order of World Wars and of the Reserve Officers Association. He was also a member of the Air Force Association, the Retired Military Officers Association of America, Past President of Collingswood-Newton Colony Historical Society, the Audubon-Parkside Lodge #218 F&AM, the Scottish Rite Consistory of Collingswood and the Crescent Temple Shrine.
Daugherty is survived by his sister, Thelma, of Collingswood; nephew, Russell (Mary) Goldsmith; niece, Nancy (Albert) Campana; great-nieces, Jane (Leon) Rapuano, Julie Campana and Shelley Goldsmith; great-nephews, Russell (Sharon) Goldsmith Jr. and Thomas (Shannon) Goldsmith; great-great-nieces, Brenda and Carly Goldsmith and a great-great-nephew, Colin Goldsmith.
Daugherty was interred Dec. 22. Contributions in his honor may be made to the Tatem-Shields Post #17 American Legion, 622 Atlantic Ave., Collingswood, NJ 08108.