Dan Dougherty would be the first to tell you he has enjoyed a blessed life, one that has revolved around family, basketball and teaching.

He played hoops at St. Joseph's Prep and St. Joseph's College, gained his first head-coaching job at the ripe age of 23, met and married a fellow basketball fan, raised four sports-loving children - his three boys playing under him at Episcopal Academy - and became one of the area's all-time winningest high school coaches.

For Dougherty, who retired from coaching last week, it all started with a phone call from Dr. Jack Ramsay, his coach on Hawk Hill.

"He's the one who got me into coaching," Dougherty, 74, said. "I graduated from St. Joe's with a finance degree, was just out in the working world, and he called one night and asked me, 'Would you be interested in teaching math and coaching basketball at a small school in Pottstown?' "

His answer, of course, was yes. And it was quite the coaching start for "Doc" at St. Pius X. In the 1959-60 campaign, the Saints, competing in the Suburban Catholic League, opened with 22 straight victories en route to a 25-4 season and a second-place showing in the Pennsylvania Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association's Class B playoffs. Said Dougherty: "I said to myself during the win streak, 'Wow, this job is a piece of cake.' "

It wasn't all smooth sailing for Dougherty. Still, he stayed on the sideline for just shy of five decades. Now, that's endurance.

At the high school level, he coached at St. Pius X from 1958 to '61, Malvern Prep from 1961 to '66, Penncrest for the 1975-76 season, and Episcopal from 1976 to '97 and 2000 to 2010.

In 36 seasons at Malvern and Episcopal Dougherty compiled a 621-285 record (.685 winning percentage) and won 13 Inter-Ac League championships. The 1987-88 title was shared with Penn Charter.

On the college level, he guided Villanova's freshman squad (1966-69), was a varsity assistant for the Wildcats (1969-71), and was head coach at Army (1971-75).

The Villanova players he coached included Howard Porter, Tom Ingelsby, Chris Ford, Mike Daly, Ed Hastings, Clarence Smith and Hank Siemiontkowski. "I'm still fast friends with many of them to this day," said Dougherty, a math teacher at Episcopal.

Dougherty and his wife, Maryellen, have been married for 51 years. "Fortunately, I married a woman who loves basketball," he said. "She went to an awful lot of games over the years. She was probably more upset at the losses than me."

The Andorra couple's four children – Kathy, Dan, Mike and Brian – pursued sports with similar passion. Kathy was a softball player and swimmer at West Chester University; Dan excelled in football and was a fullback for Wake Forest; Mike played hoops at Moravian; and Brian was a standout lacrosse goalie at Maryland.

Three of the four have followed their father's career choice: Kathy is a crew coach at Hilton Head High (S.C.); Mike is a basketball coach at Charlotte Country Day School (N.C.); and Brian is an assistant lacrosse coach at Penn.

"Coaching my three boys in basketball at Episcopal was a great thing," Dougherty said. "I was able to drive them to school in the morning, and have them on the court in the afternoon."

Five current college coaches played for Dougherty at Episcopal: Jerome Allen (Penn), James "Bruiser" Flint (Drexel), Patrick Chambers (Boston University), Eugene Burroughs (Navy assistant), and Dan Leibovitz (Penn assistant). Fran Dunphy (Temple) played for him at Malvern, and Fran O'Hanlon (Lafayette) was on Villanova's freshman squad.

"It makes me feel great to see those guys go from being high school players to college players to college coaches," Dougherty said. "It's one of the best things about coaching for as long as I did. You get to see the progression of kids who have come through the program."

Dougherty first stepped down at Episcopal after the 1996-97 season. Three years later, when things didn't "work out" for replacement Jim Farrell, he scratched his "coaching itch" and returned to the Churchmen.

He promised school administrators to spend three years on the bench. It ended up being 10.

It was a broken promise that benefited many.